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World Series

Astros gave their city 2017's greatest gift

Ballclub helped Houston heal from hurricane, both on and off field
MLB.com

The Houston Astros delivered something in 2017 that is as good as it gets in sports or pretty much anything else. This was something so magical and so emotional, something that touched so many people so deeply and seemed to unite an entire area of nearly 7 million people in a way that does not happen very often and may not happen again.

In the days after the Astros won Game 7 of the World Series, virtually everyone associated with the team -- every player, coach, executive and certainly manager A.J. Hinch -- continued to try and wrap their minds around the enormity of what they'd done.

The Houston Astros delivered something in 2017 that is as good as it gets in sports or pretty much anything else. This was something so magical and so emotional, something that touched so many people so deeply and seemed to unite an entire area of nearly 7 million people in a way that does not happen very often and may not happen again.

In the days after the Astros won Game 7 of the World Series, virtually everyone associated with the team -- every player, coach, executive and certainly manager A.J. Hinch -- continued to try and wrap their minds around the enormity of what they'd done.

When a championship is 55 years in the making, when a team's fans have spent their lives watching other teams hoist trophies and other cities hold parades, the party is going to last awhile.

Several weeks after the World Series, fans began lining up outside a Houston sporting goods store at midnight to get Jose Altuve's autograph the next morning. Some cried when they approached the American League MVP. Some simply wanted to say thanks and to tell him how they'd grown up going to games with their parents and how much this team would have meant to them.

One stunning image was of a family cheering in front of television in a home that had been gutted by Hurricane Harvey a few weeks earlier. Because of scenes like that one, the Astros know that nothing they ever do in their careers, no matter how many more championships they win, is likely to approach this one as far as the impact it had on a region.

As Hinch said, "We're always asking a city to rally around a team. But it's OK to ask a team to rally around a city."

Video: Astros celebrate World Series win with massive parade

And that's really where this story of the 2017 World Series winners begins. This is a story about baseball, but it's also about a city and its massive real-world problems. At a time when America's fourth-largest city had been brought to its knees by a storm that delivered 50 inches of rain in some areas and put a third of the area under water, the Astros did something important.

For a couple of hours each day, they gave Houstonians something else to focus on and cheer for. The Astros also rolled up their sleeves and did basic things like delivering meals, rescuing pets and cleaning out homes. But in the middle of a baseball season, there was only so much they could do.

And they understood that their play was not going to drain floodwaters or rebuild homes. When they visited the George R. Brown Convention Center, which had housed 7,000 displaced people at one point, the Astros came face to face with the pain and suffering.

When Hinch was asked how his players would put what they'd seen out of their minds to go out and play baseball, he said, "I don't want them to put it out of their minds. I want them to understand what's happening here and how people have been impacted."

Harvey rumbled into Houston on Saturday, Aug. 26, when the Astros were playing a series in Anaheim. They were scheduled to return home the next day and host the Rangers on Tuesday.

But because Harvey was still pounding the city, the series was relocated to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Astros were inundated by the images from back home on cable news. Outfielder George Springer did not know if his home had survived. Altuve's home was OK, but his wife and infant were inside and unable to leave because of floodwaters in their neighborhood.

"How long do I have to play with this on my heart?" Altuve asked Hinch at one point.

"I don't know," Hinch told him.

Video: Astros visit hurricane victims at Houston shelter

Hinch wept when he told reporters that his neighbors back home had rescued a baby that morning and that he wished he could be there helping them.

The Astros had planned to remain in Florida and play a scheduled weekend home series against the Mets. But team officials stayed in touch with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who had other ideas.

"You guys come home and play baseball," Turner told Astros president Reid Ryan. "This will be the beginning of our rebuild."

Later, Turner would say, "This is what we do in Houston. We help our neighbors out. We play ball."

The Astros flew home on Thursday, Aug. 31, and got their first look at the damage.

"I got texts from our guys asking, 'What can we do?'" Ryan said. "Tells you something about the kind of people we have on this team."

Video: Astros renovate a damaged Boys & Girls Club

And at the hour when the team plane landed, another drama was playing out. With his team having lost 17 of 27, general manager Jeff Luhnow was working furiously to pull off the trade that probably sealed the championship.

Although the Astros were in no danger of letting the AL West slip away, they did not look like a club capable of winning a championship.

That look changed dramatically minutes before midnight on Aug. 31, when Justin Verlander agreed to a trade that would send him to Houston, just beating the deadline for a player to be eligible for the postseason roster.

In that moment, everything changed. The Mets agreed to postpone the Friday home game and play a Saturday doubleheader, and the emotion inside Minute Maid Park was palpable, especially when Verlander showed up in the dugout and began greeting his new teammates.

Shortstop Carlos Correa and right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. returned from the disabled list around then, and led by Verlander winning all five of his starts and allowing more than one run just once, the Astros sprinted to the finish line, going 22-8 to finish 101-61.

When they trailed the Yankees three games to two in the AL Championship Series, they returned to Minute Maid Park and got seven shutout innings from Verlander to force a Game 7, which they won, 4-0, behind a combined three-hitter from Charlie Morton and McCullers.

Finally, the Astros' championship was within sight. They won a wild Game 2 -- the first World Series win in franchise history -- and another wild one in Game 5. And with Hinch maneuvering his pitching staff masterfully and Springer hitting .379, the Astros won Game 7, 5-1.

Video: Bregman on winning the World Series for Houston

"It's unbelievable, it's indescribable," said Springer, the World Series MVP. "For our team, our organization, our city, this is a great day."

Celebrate in style: Get Astros WS title gear

This championship was the fulfillment of the blueprint put in place when Houston businessman Jim Crane bought the team in 2011. From the beginning, he had a plan.

Crane said he was going to hire a general manager with a great track record in player development and that he was going to give that person the time and resources to tear down the franchise and rebuild it.

At the time, no owner had ever been so public in announcing there would be some tough years and that if fans would be patient, the payoff would be worth it.

He hired Luhnow from the Cardinals to be his general manager, and the Astros lost 107 games in 2012 and 111 in '13. And two years later, the franchise celebrated its first postseason appearance in a decade.

That 2015 success might have come more quickly than almost anyone imagined. But by 2017, the Astros were a surprise to no one.

That said, it was still magical, not just to win, but to win in those circumstances, with a city dealing with so much and an organization handling it all so beautifully.

"As you grow together as a group and you have a common belief system, and you're supported, it's amazing what you can do," Hinch said.

Indeed.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Houston Astros

Astros receive record postseason shares

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Almost a month after winning the World Series, the Astros are still feeling the riches -- literally.

Major League Baseball revealed Monday that the Astros will receive a $30,420,155.57 share of the players' pool for winning the World Series, with each full share valued at a record $438,901.57. The Astros voted to issue 60 full shares, 9.23 partial shares and four cash awards.

HOUSTON -- Almost a month after winning the World Series, the Astros are still feeling the riches -- literally.

Major League Baseball revealed Monday that the Astros will receive a $30,420,155.57 share of the players' pool for winning the World Series, with each full share valued at a record $438,901.57. The Astros voted to issue 60 full shares, 9.23 partial shares and four cash awards.

Most of the full shares go to the players, coaching staff and other support staff.

The previous record for each full share was $392,006.36 for the 2014 World Series champion Giants. Last year, the Cubs got full shares of $368,871.59 for winning the World Series. The Dodgers, who lost to the Astros in seven games in the Fall Classic, had a full share of $259,722.14.

The players' pool is formed from 50 percent of the gate receipts from the Wild Card Games; 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first three games of the Division Series; 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the League Championship Series; and 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the World Series.

The players' pool, which was divided among the 10 playoff clubs, was a record total of $84,500,432.15, eclipsing last year's $76,627,827.09. A full breakdown of postseason shares is below.

WORLD SERIES WINNER
Astros: Players' pool $30,420,155.57; value of each full share $438,901.57

NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS
Dodgers: Players' pool $20,280,103.72; full share $259,722.14

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES RUNNERS-UP
Cubs: Players' pool $10,140,051.86; full share $133,159.02

Yankees: Players' pool $10,140,051.86; full share $138,897.63

DIVISION SERIES RUNNERS-UP
D-backs: Players' pool $2,746,264.04; full share $40,976.78

Red Sox: Players' pool $2,746,264.04; full share $36,438.21

Indians: Players' pool $2,746,264.04; full share $36,782.68

Nationals: Players' pool $2,746,264.04; full share $36,868.74

WILD CARD GAME RUNNERS-UP
Rockies: Players' pool $1,267,506.48; full share $18,878.74

Twins: Players' pool $1,267,506.48; full share $18,990.36

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros

Morning Lineup podcast: Remembering Halladay

MLB.com

On the latest Morning Lineup podcast, Anthony Castrovince and Richard Justice share memories of former Blue Jays and Phillies starter Roy Halladay, with help from some of those who knew him best. Halladay passed away Tuesday at age 40.

LISTEN NOW: Morning Lineup podcast remembers Roy Halladay

On the latest Morning Lineup podcast, Anthony Castrovince and Richard Justice share memories of former Blue Jays and Phillies starter Roy Halladay, with help from some of those who knew him best. Halladay passed away Tuesday at age 40.

LISTEN NOW: Morning Lineup podcast remembers Roy Halladay

In addition to downloading today's podcast, you can subscribe with iTunes or have the podcast delivered to your RSS feed.

You can also listen to other MLB.com podcasts, featuring everything from Cut4 to the PosCast.

What a ride! Astros' remarkable run had it all

Club helped lift Houston's spirits after hurricane on way to title
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- The Astros capped a remarkable season by winning their first World Series last Wednesday, beating the Dodgers in a tremendous seven-game series to give the franchise its first championship in 56 years of existence.

Despite losing their entire starting rotation to injury at one point -- and later losing All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa for two months -- the Astros roared to the American League West title and won 101 games, one shy of the franchise record. They acquired Justin Verlander in late August and got everyone healthy in September, and then they charged through the postseason, taking out the Red Sox in four games in the AL Division Series and the Yankees in seven games in the AL Championship Series before toppling the Dodgers in the Fall Classic.

HOUSTON -- The Astros capped a remarkable season by winning their first World Series last Wednesday, beating the Dodgers in a tremendous seven-game series to give the franchise its first championship in 56 years of existence.

Despite losing their entire starting rotation to injury at one point -- and later losing All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa for two months -- the Astros roared to the American League West title and won 101 games, one shy of the franchise record. They acquired Justin Verlander in late August and got everyone healthy in September, and then they charged through the postseason, taking out the Red Sox in four games in the AL Division Series and the Yankees in seven games in the AL Championship Series before toppling the Dodgers in the Fall Classic.

Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

The Astros, who had six All-Stars, featured an explosive offense that led the Majors in runs, hits, doubles, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage while striking out fewer times than any other club. Houston was 53-28 on the road, 50-26 against the AL West and 15-5 in Interleague Play, and it finished the regular season by winning 14 of 17 games.

Video: Astros celebrate World Series win with massive parade

Here are five things worth remembering from the 2017 season:

1. In Game 5 of the World Series, the Astros trailed, 4-0, with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound, but they got game-tying homers from Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve and Willie Mays Most Valuable Player Award winner George Springer to tie the game at 8. After giving up a 12-9 lead in the ninth, Houston got a dramatic walk-off win, 13-12, when Alex Bregman's single scored pinch-runner Derek Fisher from second base, giving it a 3-2 series lead heading to Los Angeles for Games 6 and 7.

Video: Must C Clutch: Bregman wins wild Game 5 for Astros

2. The performance of Charlie Morton. Some scoffed when the Astros signed the often-injured veteran to a two-year, $14 million contract, but he started and won Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees and pitched the final four innings in relief to win Game 7 of the World Series against the Dodgers. He sent down the final nine batters he faced to lock down Game 7 for Houston.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Morton goes four innings, earns the win

3. After the Dodgers won Game 1 of the World Series, 3-1, they were three outs from taking control of the Series when they entered the ninth inning of Game 2 with a 3-2 lead (the Dodgers were 98-0 in 2017 to that point when leading after eight innings). The Series changed when Marwin Gonzalez led off the ninth with a game-tying homer off Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen, who had a postseason streak of 12 consecutive converted saves snapped. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa hit back-to-back homers in the 10th to give Houston a 5-3 lead, and -- after the Dodgers tied it in the bottom of the 10th -- Springer won it with a two-run homer in the 11th -- one of five World Series homers he hit.

Video: WS2017 Gm2: Astros win instant classic in Los Angeles

4. Altuve continued to cement his status as one of the game's top hitters by winning his third AL batting title, hitting .346 with 24 homers, 81 RBIs and 32 stolen bases en route to becoming an AL MVP Award finalist. He became the first player to lead the AL in hits outright in four consecutive seasons and was the fourth right-handed hitter in history to reach 200 hits in four consecutive seasons. Altuve hit seven home runs in the postseason and drove in 16 runs in 18 games across the ALDS, ALCS and World Series.

Video: Jose Altuve named an AL MVP finalist

5. The Astros were on the road in Anaheim in late August when Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas, dumping 51 inches of rain in parts of Houston. The storm caused massive flooding and dozens of deaths, and it forced the Astros to move a series against the Texas Rangers to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg from Minute Maid Park. The Astros, wearing a patch with the word "Strong" on their chests, were able to return home for a series against the Mets in early September, and they swept three games at Minute Park to provide a boost for the city. That started a strong finishing kick in which the Astros went 21-8 in September to won their first AL West title.

Video: Astros visit hurricane victims at Houston shelter

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Derek Fisher, Marwin Gonzalez, Charlie Morton, Justin Verlander

Grit, determination define Astros under Hinch

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Three years ago, when winning the World Series was still a distant dream for the Astros, new manager A.J. Hinch had two important conversations with second baseman Jose Altuve.

One was a get-to-know-you chat after Hinch's hiring following the 2014 season. It dealt with routine stuff. Only in attempting to change the culture of the Astros, nothing was routine.

HOUSTON -- Three years ago, when winning the World Series was still a distant dream for the Astros, new manager A.J. Hinch had two important conversations with second baseman Jose Altuve.

One was a get-to-know-you chat after Hinch's hiring following the 2014 season. It dealt with routine stuff. Only in attempting to change the culture of the Astros, nothing was routine.

Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

"We talked a lot about getting better," Hinch said. "We talked about the 100-loss seasons. We talked about the grind that had taken its toll. I asked him one question: 'Why don't we talk about winning?'"

Hinch steered every conversation with a player, coach or executive in that direction. In the end, everything had to be about that. By the time Houston won Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, those chats had come full circle.

"We had this little burn in us that never stopped, and that raises the bar even higher," Hinch said. "We're going to talk about winning a lot now. Obviously, as we go into next season, we're going to have to handle success equally as well, if not better, than we handled the failure. That for me is one of the most exciting challenges."

Hinch's other memorable talk with Altuve occurred after the Astros had been eliminated by the Royals in Game 5 of the American League Division Series in 2015.

"He walked into my office and said, 'This is on me. I feel it's my fault,'" Hinch remembered.

Hinch assured him the Astros get nowhere near the playoffs without the man who is now a three-time AL batting champion and favorite to win the 2017 AL Most Valuable Player Award.

Video: Correa, Altuve, Springer greeted by fans at parade

In four seasons (2011-14) before the '15 playoff appearance, Houston averaged 104 losses. To go from that low point to winning the franchise's first World Series will be remembered forever by the people who made it happen.

"Our players were really at the end of their gas tank [last week]," Hinch said. "This is a lot of baseball. There wasn't a single guy that felt good, including the coaching staff. We're all beat up at the end of this run because of the emotional roller coaster you go through, the physical grind that happens.

"To a man, these guys played through a lot of different things. But you'd have to rip these dudes off the field for them not to be able to play. I love how our guys posted at the end."

For Hinch, the joy -- both personal and professional -- is something he's still wrapping his mind around.

"That's the best feeling in the world as a coach," he said. "This was the biggest smiles, the best celebration, the best hugs you can possibly imagine on a baseball field. It's thrilling. There's nothing like it.

"To watch George Springer go from having to talk about strikeouts after the first game to winning the World Series MVP, there's a lot of emotion involved in that when you're in charge of leading 'em on the field.

"The moment that these guys run in the dog pile in the middle of the field, that first champagne that comes on after we get into the clubhouse, it's hard to describe because it's hard to get that feeling. I loved every second of it, and I want to do it again."

Among the hundreds of text messages Hinch received since Game 7 were those from former managers, coaches, players, etc. All of them offered advice. Actually, the same advice.

Video: Crane speaks to fans about Astros' World Series climb

"This is new for me, for all of us really," Hinch said. "The texts were telling me to soak up, to take a lot of pictures and videos, because at some point this thing passes and you move into the future and you want to enjoy this as much as you can. It does represent a lot of hard work and a lot of people spending years in this organization."

And there was this memory:

"Think about this picture," he said. "We have two televisions in the dugout to see each bullpen. I have Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander warming up in Game 7 of the World Series. Both as relievers. Both may be coming in for one out apiece to win the World Series.

"I'm looking out at Charlie Morton pitching his heart out. Our front office was steadfast that he was going to be a difference-maker on our team coming off an injury-riddled season.

"That never happens. Our two top pitchers warming up in case another one of our pitchers needs some help in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series. I'll forever remember that picture and that feeling as part of this process."

When Morton finally did get the last out, Hinch saw Astros legend Enos Cabell weeping on the field. He saw the two Hall of Famers -- Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell -- with the same joy the current players had. He saw the parents of players crying.

"I think that's what starts to resonate with players is how many people represented them and supported them," Hinch said, "and Astros alumni celebrating from around the world."

Even if Houston wins the World Series again -- or multiple times -- nothing is likely to be as meaningful as this first one. That's the part the Astros are still getting their minds around.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Houston Astros

Astros' World Series parade: In Real Life

MLB.com

The Astros celebrated their first World Series championship with their fans, and MLB.com was on the scene in downtown Houston.

Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

The Astros celebrated their first World Series championship with their fans, and MLB.com was on the scene in downtown Houston.

Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

5:24 p.m. ET: And that's a wrap
Astros owner Jim Crane, manager A.J. Hinch, World Series MVP George Springer, and teammates Dallas Keuchel and Josh Reddick addressed the fans, who turned out in droves to cheer for the champions.

Tweet from @BenDuBose: Confetti flies. #Astros #EarnedHistory pic.twitter.com/gpOhTOhXBO

Video: Correa, Altuve, Springer greeted by fans at parade

Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Reddick: "Wooston, we don't have a problem. We have a championship."And Reddick saves the day

5:11 p.m. ET: It's officially "Astros Day"
Mayor Sylvester Turner declared Nov. 3, 2017, as "Houston Astros Day" in the city of Houston, and Gov. Greg Abbott did the same for the state of Texas.

Tweet from @BenDuBose: George Springer alluding to Jansen���s quote: ���I was told before Game 7 we didn���t have a chance. How���d that work out?��� #Astros #EarnedHistory pic.twitter.com/AHIvORuR2d

Tweet from @brianmctaggart: "Hey Houston, we did it," Hinch tells the crowd"Don't forget where you were when they made the last out."

Video: Crane speaks to fans about Astros' World Series climb

Tweet from @MLBGIFs: Earned it. #WorldSeries pic.twitter.com/1cvxgOM9XF

Celebrate with the best moments from the Astros' victory parade

4:49 p.m. ET: Champs take the stage
The massive crowd outside City Hall erupted into cheers when the players arrived, after Orbit fired up the fans with a giant "World Series champions" flag as chants of "Let's go, Astros" broke out.

Tweet from @BenDuBose: Houston City Hall has a new look. #Astros #EarnedHistory pic.twitter.com/ffF6ndy0vv

Tweet from @richardjustice: pic.twitter.com/tH4lDU3bss

4:06 p.m. ET: Astros approaching final stage of parade
When the firetrucks arrive at City Hall, the World Series champions will take the stage in front of the throngs of fans packing the surrounding area.

Tweet from @Cut4: The city of Houston's throwing a really nice parade. https://t.co/QobumVgGL2 pic.twitter.com/k4AuaAeovs

Tweet from @MLBGIFs: #HowToBePopularIn4WordsWin the #WorldSeries. pic.twitter.com/ywTsa8fzn4

Tweet from @BenDuBose: #Astros fans cooling off in the water in front of City Hall, awaiting the team's arrival to the main stage. #AstrosParade #EarnedHistory pic.twitter.com/8eV5cFzWaU

3:43 p.m. ET: Magical ride to continue
Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa will be honored Saturday with a victory parade down Main Street U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom Park at Disney World.

Tweet from @DisneyParks: The stars of the Houston @Astros World Series championship team are ���going to Disney World��� on Saturday! Details: https://t.co/3T8ZXD9rdX

3:29 p.m. ET: Astros past and present
Reddick (wearing his title belt and giant orange hat) and Jake Marisnick are on the move, as were Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.

3:16 p.m. ET: Precious cargo
With an assist from the Houston Fire Department, the Commissioner's Trophy is being trucked into downtown Houston, along with the World Series champions.

Tweet from @BenDuBose: Carlos Correa throws up the H to raucous Houston fans. #Astros #EarnedHistory pic.twitter.com/HImYA5HVxg

2:46 p.m. ET: Houston showing Astros love
Fans were lining the streets, even into parking garages, to welcome the World Series champions as start time for the parade approached.

Tweet from @BenDuBose: These #Astros posters are being given out at City Hall. Pretty cool: pic.twitter.com/r3VjzIcGKx

2:23 p.m. ET: Top dog
Even Houston's finest K-9 was showing Astros pride.

Tweet from @BenDuBose: With one hour to go, here���s the folks awaiting the #Astros directly in front of the City Hall stage. Massive turnout. #EarnedHistory pic.twitter.com/nRtTORwbVB

1:28 p.m. ET: Seeing orange
The fans are catching the eyes of the Astros' players as they gather for the start of the parade.

Tweet from @brianmctaggart: "Sorry, I"m late. I was taking selfies with the best fans in baseball...in traffic," Bregman showing up to press conference.

Tweet from @brianmctaggart: "Driving through the city and seeing a bunch of orange everywhere is pretty special," Astros P Chris Devenski.

Tweet from @ABREG_1: Who's ready for this parade?????

12:26 p.m. ET: H-Town is hopping
Horns are honking everywhere as the fans clearly are amped with anticipation to greet their champs.

Tweet from @BenDuBose: Milam and Walker at 11 a.m. #Astros #EarnHistory pic.twitter.com/BYm7JavDyO

11:56 a.m. ET: What do you say, Joe?
Natalie Guerrero, who has been here since 8:30 a.m. CT, has a very important question for Astros right-hander Joe Musgrove.

11:39 a.m. ET: Early to rise
Fans hit the streets well before the parade started to celebrate a championship 56 seasons in the making.

Tweet from @alysonfooter: People lined up outside Astros team store at MMP hours before parade. pic.twitter.com/4pK4l6Cwu0

Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, Josh Reddick, George Springer

Astros parade today 56 years in the making!

Celebration begins 2 p.m. CT today in downtown Houston
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Who doesn't love a parade? Certainly not fans of the Astros, who will gather on the streets in downtown Houston this afternoon for what figures to be one of the biggest parades in the city's history to celebrate the 2017 World Series champions.

Dress like a champion for the parade! Get Astros World Series title gear

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Who doesn't love a parade? Certainly not fans of the Astros, who will gather on the streets in downtown Houston this afternoon for what figures to be one of the biggest parades in the city's history to celebrate the 2017 World Series champions.

Dress like a champion for the parade! Get Astros World Series title gear

View Full Game Coverage

The Astros, who beat the Dodgers, 5-1, in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium to win their first World Series championship after 56 seasons, will be paraded through the streets of downtown, beginning at 2 p.m. CT. Live coverage of the parade can be seen on MLB Network and MLB.com beginning at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT. MLB.com will also capture all of the excitement leading up to the parade with real-time photos and videos through its In Real Life coverage.

:: World Series presented by YouTube TV: Complete coverage ::

The parade begins and ends at City Hall, where Astros owner Jim Crane, manager A.J. Hinch, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner and members of the Astros will address the crowd following the parade on the steps of City Hall. The route begins at the corner of Smith and Lamar Streets just a couple blocks away from Sam Houston Park and will then proceed north on Smith Street before winding its way through downtown.

• 56 seasons to a title

"I exhaled and I was really thrilled for our team," Hinch said after Wednesday's game. "It won't hit us until we get home in front of our whole city and we celebrate and we bring the trophy home. … We played pretty deep this year so we'll soak all this up."

The Astros celebrated in their hotel in downtown Los Angeles late Wednesday before flying home to Houston on Thursday with the Commissioner's Trophy in tow -- though Jose Altuve took a detour to New York to appear on "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon." Astros fans will get their first look at the champoinship hardware during the parade. The Houston Independent School District canceled classes for the day, and some other area districts are allowing kids to skip school with an excused absence to honor the champs.

Springer tucks in trophy for flight

"They wanted everybody to be proud of us," Hinch said of the fans. "They wanted to win a championship as much as we did. They supported us in the good times. I know there were some lean years a few years back, but it will be long forgotten with a championship."

Video: Astros fans celebrate team's first World Series win

Indeed. The Astros lost at least 106 games in three consecutive seasons, bottoming out at 111 losses in 2013 -- their first year in the American League. As they continued to stockpile young talent through trades and the Draft, the wins started to come.

This year, Houston fans grew to love Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, Dallas Keuchel and, of course, Justin Verlander. It was the first World Series title for every player on the roster, and the first major sports title for the city of Houston since the NBA's Houston Rockets won back-to-back championship from 1994-95.

Video: Bregman on winning the World Series for Houston

The fans rallied around the Astros following the August devastation of Hurricane Harvey, which caused widespread flooding and damage and killed more than two dozen people in the area in August. The Astros began wearing a "Strong" patch on their chests, and a city and a baseball team were joined forever.

Fans celebrate at Minute Maid Park

After an unforgettable journey through October, Astros fans will get one final chance to cheer the champions on streets that will be filled with orange.

Tweet from @HoustonTX: City @astros #WorldSeries Championship Victory Parade info here https://t.co/uuEnrbbAmX #EarnHistory #HistoryEarned pic.twitter.com/Ik4EgZDSx3

"I don't think you can put it into words what it means to the people of Houston," Keuchel said. "We wear that patch and we wore it proudly. The people in Houston are never far from our minds. We know they're at Minute Maid watching, they're going crazy for us. … They deserve this as much as we do, man, and we're going to party hard."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Houston Astros

Hinch finds glory with style, substance

Astros manager builds relationships with players, shows faith in them
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, one of the first things manager Charlie Manuel did was look for a reporter from Cleveland.

"Tell 'em I did OK," Manuel said.

HOUSTON -- When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, one of the first things manager Charlie Manuel did was look for a reporter from Cleveland.

"Tell 'em I did OK," Manuel said.

Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

In the happiest hour of his professional life, Manuel still carried the sting of being fired by the Indians six years earlier.

Did Astros manager A.J. Hinch have something along those lines he would like to say?

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"Well ...," he said.

Hinch said he hadn't forgotten an opposing manager or two who'd given him a cold shoulder when the D-backs hired him.

Nor had Hinch forgotten the sting of being fired by Arizona after parts of two seasons in 2009 and '10.

Nor had Hinch forgotten that plenty of people did not think he deserved another job and were openly surprised that Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow hired him three years ago.

What goes around …

Today, Hinch, 43, is the prototype for what the modern Major League manager should be. He builds lasting relationships with players. He jokes with them and listens to them.

When outfielder George Springer struck out four times in Game 1 of the World Series, Hinch told the media the idea of benching Springer or dropping him in the lineup was silly.

"He's too important to what we do here," Hinch said. "Listen, my players are going to know I've got their back."

Hinch did not mention that he had texted Springer and told him to hang in there and that great things were going to happen for him in this World Series.

Springer revealed those text messages after the Astros won the World Series on Wednesday with a 5-1 victory over the Dodgers in Game 7. Springer was named the Most Valuable Player of the Series for batting .379 with five home runs.

"When someone has your back, that allows you to go play hard and take chances and not worry about the other stuff," Springer said.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Hinch on Springer's MVP performance

Hinch did the same sort of thing after third baseman Alex Bregman began his Major League career in 2016 with a deep confidence-shaking slump.

Rather than bench Bregman, Hinch moved him from sixth to second in the batting order.

"That reflects what the organization thinks of you and what I think of you," Hinch said.

Minutes after Game 7 ended, a representative of the Hall of Fame asked for Bregman's third baseman's glove.

"We have another glove from a World Series third baseman," Bregman was told. "That's Brooks Robinson."

"Brooks Robinson?" Bregman said. "My dad's favorite player."

Bregman's glove is on its way to Cooperstown.

This World Series was a coming out party for the Astros, for owner Jim Crane's leadership, Luhnow's blueprint and the individual greatness of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, etc.

It was a tribute to reborn players like Charlie Morton and Brad Peacock, to veterans like Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann, who have more yesterdays than tomorrows in this game.

But maybe the lasting impact of this World Series is that Hinch had one of the great World Series any manager has ever had.

That the Astros won the World Series is no surprise, since they have a roster that was been carefully built and smartly managed.

But to win a World Series when Hinch simply could not rely on many of the relievers that helped Houston win 101 regular-season games is astonishing.

Rather than try to coax his main guys back into the mix, Hinch came up with a brilliant Plan B on the fly.

One of his season's most reliable starters, Peacock, was invaluable in appearing in Games 1-3-5-7 as a reliever.

And Morton. He'd never pitched in relief prior to the World Series. But Morton was probably the key to the Astros winning Game 7 by pitching the final four innings to finish off the Dodgers.

Video: Astros' bullpen gets key outs in 2017 World Series

Morton is a tribute to Luhnow and his staff's ability to see things in players that others don't.

When Morton became a free agent last offseason, he was so frustrated with his career that he wondered if he'd even get a Major League deal.

The Astros were impressed enough to offer Morton two years, and he repaid them with two solid postseason starts -- five shutout innings in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series and 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in Game 4 of the World Series.

Then, working on three days' rest, Morton turned in a World Series performance he'll remember for the rest of his life.

In the end, Justin Verlander gave Houston two solid starts and Morton and Dallas Keuchel one apiece. Hinch had to scramble from there, and in Game 7, with starter Lance McCullers Jr. gone in the third inning, Peacock and Morton combined to go six innings.

Hinch called his bullpen management "a race to 27 outs." Without the usual late-inning guys lined up, he improvised.

And then when Morton got the 27th out in Game 7, a celebration filled with gratitude and elation began. Hinch's brilliant work was huge in getting the Astros where they hoped to be.

Hinch will be in downtown Houston on Friday to be honored with a championship parade that should be an outpouring of emotion and joy.

• Parade set for Friday in Houston

Not every manager gets a second chance. Hinch is grateful for his.

The Astros are even more grateful.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Houston Astros

Morning Lineup podcast: A remarkable postseason

MLB.com

It feels like just hours ago that Brian Dozier ushered in the 2017 postseason with a leadoff homer in the American League Wild Card Game. But World Series Game 7 is already in the rearview mirror, so it's time for MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince and Richard Justice to recap 10 of the most memorable moments from one of the wildest Octobers we've ever seen, on the latest Morning Lineup podcast.

LISTEN NOW: Morning Lineup podcast recaps 2017 postseason

It feels like just hours ago that Brian Dozier ushered in the 2017 postseason with a leadoff homer in the American League Wild Card Game. But World Series Game 7 is already in the rearview mirror, so it's time for MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince and Richard Justice to recap 10 of the most memorable moments from one of the wildest Octobers we've ever seen, on the latest Morning Lineup podcast.

LISTEN NOW: Morning Lineup podcast recaps 2017 postseason

In addition to downloading today's podcast, you can subscribe with iTunes or have the podcast delivered to your RSS feed.

You can also listen to other MLB.com podcasts, featuring everything from Cut4 to the PosCast.

Astros' World Series treasures headed to Hall

Bregman's glove, Morton's cap from Game 7 will be sent to Cooperstown
MLB.com

The 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros will live on in history. So will select memorabilia from their World Series run.

• Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

The 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros will live on in history. So will select memorabilia from their World Series run.

• Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

Several items from Houston's Series-clinching 5-1 win Wednesday night are headed to the Hall of Fame, including Alex Bregman's glove and Charlie Morton's cap.

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The jersey worn by Astros starter Justin Verlander in Game 6 will also be sent to Cooperstown.

Bregman, the second-year third baseman, was one of the breakout stars of this postseason. He notched the game-winning hit in Houston's dramatic Game 5 victory, and he made several highlight-reel defensive plays throughout the series.

Morton was wearing the cap Wednesday, when he threw four innings of relief to seal the Astros' Game 7 win. Morton ended up as the winning pitcher.

Verlander endured his only loss of the postseason in Game 6, but he was still integral to Houston's championship run, going 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in six postseason starts.

These and other artifacts, which will be announced in the coming weeks, from the 2017 postseason will be featured in the "Autumn Glory" exhibit, which will be on display through the '18 postseason.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com.

Houston Astros

Sarah's Take: 2017 Dodgers were special

Club will live in franchise lore despite coming up one win short in WS
MLB.com

In their 56th season in existence, the Houston Astros have won their first World Series championship.

Throughout the postseason, bolstered by a city that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Harvey in late August, the Astros proved that a franchise that builds from within and makes wise trades still can win a World Series within the current economic environment of baseball.

In their 56th season in existence, the Houston Astros have won their first World Series championship.

Throughout the postseason, bolstered by a city that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Harvey in late August, the Astros proved that a franchise that builds from within and makes wise trades still can win a World Series within the current economic environment of baseball.

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The 2017 World Series was a historic, hard-fought series, and either the Astros or the Los Angeles Dodgers could have taken home the Commissioner's Trophy.

Every time the Astros had a scoring opportunity, they seemed to take advantage of it. Coming into the World Series, their bullpen was in disarray, but somehow manager A.J. Hinch -- going against current analytics -- used the relievers he felt could do the job. George Springer, who had five home runs, earned the World Series MVP Award. Justin Verlander, who was acquired from the Tigers on Aug. 31, pitched brilliantly for the Astros, especially in the American League Championship Series, where he was named the series MVP.

In 2017, the Dodgers had the most wins since they moved to Los Angeles six decades earlier. Most nights during the regular season, Los Angeles provided thrilling victories with a different hero practically every game. The Dodgers either won or lost as a team, never blaming a teammate for a poor performance.

They breezed through the National League Division Series against the D-backs and the NLCS against the defending-champion Cubs. Then, competing in the World Series for the first time since 1988, the Dodgers battled valiantly, and they almost won it all.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Taylor reflects on Dodgers' 2017 season

Many times during the regular season, some so-called fans said if the Dodgers didn't win a World Series championship in 2017, they would call this season another failure. But I beg to differ. This version of the Dodgers gave us everything that we want from a baseball team. They never gave up on winning a game. No matter which role a player was asked to step in by manager Dave Roberts, he did it to the best of his ability without complaint.

The front office attempted to obtain the players needed to win a championship, but unfortunately for the Dodgers, half of the new players didn't perform up to the club's expectations. Getting Tony Watson from the Pirates and Tony Cingrani from the Reds was beneficial to the Dodgers, and they performed well in the World Series.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Darvish leaves after 1 2/3 innings

However, obtaining Yu Darvish from the Rangers did not end up being a good move. At the time of the headline-catching trade, Darvish had just had his poorest performance of his MLB career. Despite having a great Dodgers debut against the Mets, Darvish mostly struggled with L.A. He pitched well during the NLDS and the NLCS, but unfortunately for the Dodgers, in the World Series, he was a disaster. In two Fall Classic starts, Darvish lasted only a combined 3 1/3 innings with a 21.60 ERA.

In the middle of August, the Dodgers acquired Curtis Granderson from the Mets, because the front office desired his World Series experience. However, Granderson was never able to make consistent contact after joining Los Angeles, and he didn't earn a spot on the World Series roster. If the Dodgers had won the World Series, Joc Pederson -- the player the Dodgers wanted Granderson to replace -- likely would have won the World Series MVP Award.

Video: After World Series defeat, Dodgers look ahead to 2018

Since the Dodgers have a young nucleus and a productive Minor League system, their chances of returning to the World Series soon are good. However, we won't see another team like the 2017 Dodgers in most of our lifetimes. They were special!

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com.

Astros fulfill quest with first World Series title

Franchise began with 1962 National League expansion
MLB.com

Fifty-six seasons later, and the Astros are no longer a trivia question.

• Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

Fifty-six seasons later, and the Astros are no longer a trivia question.

• Dress like a champion! Get Astros World Series title gear

They are World Series champions, a 5-1 victory against the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night the finishing touch on a journey more known for oddities than success since their inception in the original National League expansion along with the Mets in 1962.

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When Jose Altuve fielded a ground ball off the bat of Corey Seager and threw to first base for the final out in Wednesday's game, the Astros left the Rangers as the only original expansion team yet to claim a World Series title.

The Angels celebrated in 2002, a seven-game World Series success against the Giants. The Mets, who came into existence with the Astros in the expansion of the NL from eight teams to 10 teams in 1962, were World Series champions in '69 and '86. That leaves Texas, which originally joined the American League as the expansion Senators in 1961, along with the Angles. The Rangers have advanced to the World Series twice, but they lost to the Giants in 2010 and the Cardinals in '11.

The Astros have come a long way from the franchise that was originally known as the Houston Colt .45s, had its player wearing boots and cowboy hats on road trips in the early days, and brought indoor stadiums and AstroTurf to the big leagues after the opening of the Astrodome in 1965.

It is the only franchise to have a pitcher be credited with appearing in a game despite never facing a hitter. Larry Yount, who is the older brother of Hall of Fame shortstop Robin Yount, came on in the ninth inning of a Sept. 15, 1971, game. He warmed up and then walked off the mound because of tightness in his elbow in his only Major League game.

Four years later, with a 40-69 career Minor League record and having never returned to the big leagues, Larry retired.

Astros' title 56 seasons in the making

The Astros' history includes the only player to have at least two at-bats and retire with a 1.000 batting average. John Paciorek, older brother of former big league outfielder Tom Paciorek, suffered what was described as a sciatic nerve injury during his pro debut in 1963. John, however, was still among seven players Houston called up at the end of that year to start in the season finale. He went 3-for-3 and never made it back to the big leagues before retiring in '69.

While their expansion cousin Mets won the World Series in 1969 and '86, the Astros didn't make their postseason debut until '80, when they were eliminated by the Phillies in five games in the NL Championsip Series. Houston advanced to the World Series for the first time in 2005 only to be swept by the Chicago White Sox.

It was 2011 before the Astros suffered the first 100-loss season in franchise history, which turned out to be the start of a three-year stretch of 100-loss seasons, capped off by a franchise-record 111 defeats in '13.

Five years later, though, the Astros are World Series champions, their seven-game World Series victory against the Dodgers coming at the end of a season in which they won 101 games -- one shy of the franchise record set in 1998 -- and then knocked off the Red Sox in four games in the AL Division Series and the Yankees in seven games in the ALCS.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Astros presented with World Series trophy

Their quest for credibility on the national stage may well have begun in 2015, when Houston not only claimed an AL Wild Card spot, but Craig Biggio became the first player inducted to the Hall of Fame as an Astro, only to be joined in Cooperstown this past July by his former teammate Jeff Bagwell.

Houston announces Friday parade for champs

And then, on Wednesday night, the Astros claimed their first World Series championship, with Game 7 ending in a seemingly fitting fashion with a ground ball to Altuve.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Altuve on Astros' first championship

Altuve is 18 games shy of appearing in 1,000 career contests with Houston, something that has been done by only 19 of the 846 players who have appeared in a game in franchise history. And the .316 career hitter is the only player in franchise history with at least 3,000 plate appearances to hit .300 or better.

With Altuve's contagious smile, he has become the face of a franchise -- one that after 56 years has become a World Series champion for the first time.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.

Houston Astros