Part 3: 2017
With the additions of Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Charlie Morton, and Josh Reddick to the squad, the Houston Astros are ready for a championship according to Henry. Before long, the team takes off and they win. While Henry takes a back seat and watches his teammates do well, he does offer contributions to the game.
He won’t make it to the All-Star Game, but he becomes a vital part of the Astros. Fans pick up on his story to affect his career for the benefit of staying with the Astros and they respect him. But what he soon discovers is a strength and resiliency on his hometown.
Harvey and a Promise to the City of Houston
When Hurricane Harvey hits, he is on a road trip with the team. His wife and kids are safe on the road as the house they live in is not damaged aside from a few inches of floodwater. But the surrounding neighborhoods don’t fare so well. Henry and the Astros return home and they spend a day with refugees trying to bring some happiness. He can see the refugees showing fear and concern about what their lives will bring on following the disaster. Now Henry is certain that there is a reason to win it all. He makes a promise to the City of Houston that the Astros will bring happiness to the team. He knows now that this is the year to get the job done and win the championship.
The Remainder of the Season
Like everyone else, Henry is welcoming of Justin Verlander, who makes a big impact with the team and the Astros win the division and are heading to the playoffs. Houston beats Boston and New York for the first two rounds of the playoffs with Henry playing sparingly but contributing to making the team fired up. Next thing he knows, the Astros are going to the World Series.
The World Series Games 1-4
Interestingly enough, Henry is matched up against is father-in-laws old team, the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Also interesting is that he and his wife are good friends with Clayton Kershaw and his family. The night before Game 1, they go out and have dinner at Clayton’s place where they chat about old times. When dinner is over, the friends say goodbye knowing this will be the last time they talk to each other until the World Series is done.
Kershaw beats Houston in Game 1 while the Astros bounce back to win an epic Game 2. In Game 3, Houston wins to take a 2-1 series lead. But this gets overshadowed by controversy from Yuli Gurriel, who made a bad decision to make a racial gesture against Yu Darvish. While Henry doesn’t agree with Gurriel’s mistake, he goes out of his way to convince others that Gurriel was not who they say he is. He apologizes for the Dodgers organization and it will take time before they forgive and move on. He even expresses his opinion, which is mostly accepted by everyone else that understands Yuli’s situation.
The Dodgers even the series in Game 4 setting up a dramatic Game 5. While the real score of Game 5 was 13-12, there was a moment that will define Henry Albright’s career.
Ninth Inning of Game 5
So instead of a game-tying single, Chris Taylor homers to put the Dodgers ahead 13-12 going to the bottom of the ninth. After two outs, Dodgers closer Kenley Jensen is set to pick up the final out. In comes Albright to pinch hit for Gurriel. The count goes 2-2 with Albright expecting a cutter. Henry makes a decision to swing on the next pitch regardless as Jensen pitches the ball. Henry swings and makes contact. The ball goes to deep center field and Henry runs. The ball misses going out of the ballpark, but it trickles away. Henry rounds second and heads for third as Yasiel Puig picks up the ball. Before long, Henry is close and a decision has to be made.
Does he stay at third or does he go home? Henry decides to go for broke. He rounds third and heads for home. Puig throws to the cutoff man who fires it to catcher Austin Barnes. It’s a close play at the plate, but Henry Albright is safe and the game is tied. The crowd is electric and loud and Henry is slow to get up. At 34 years of age, he goes back to the dugout without telling his teammates he bruised his ribs on the slide. Houston wins Game 5 in ten innings to lead the series.
LA wins Game 6, 3-1 to send the series to a seventh game. Houston jumps ahead 5-0 in Game 7. Clayton Kershaw is brought in to pitch and keeps LA in the game. In the sixth inning, the bases are loaded. Henry, who still hasn’t told his teammates about his bruised ribs, is asked to pinch hit. In pain and hurting, he walks up to face his friend Kershaw. Kershaw throws a few pitches by him. But he makes a mistake by throwing a curveball down the middle and Henry hits the ball over the fence for a home run.
As Henry rounds the bags in front of a stunned Dodger Stadium crowd, he knows he has done it. He knows now that the series is theirs. It’s over! He considers blowing a kiss of death to the crowd. But he decides against it. His teammates meet him in the dugout and they hung him. A tear is shown on his face and the game is won.
He celebrates by hugging his family and kissing his wife. He touches the trophy and soon meets his old teammates and tells them that he delivered on his promise.
Aftermath Pt. 1
At the championship parade, Henry steals the show by ripping the people who doubted the Astros while thanking them for supporting. He promised to be on a team to deliver a championship to Houston and he did. He even reaps the perks of winning from talk shows to an appearance at the
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White House fulfilling a promise made to his dad. Even if the media spends countless hours trying to find excuses for losing and even if he spends times on talk shows defending his team, he knows that he’s right and the media is wrong. But it doesn’t matter because he’s a World Series champion.
Baseball can take away times spent with family and Henry knows that. He decides to show appreciation for his wife by making her breakfast. He’s not the best cook, but he does his best. However, when his wife finds out, she scolds him for trying. He wants to spend time with his family and is even considering retirement after 12 seasons spent with the team. But his wife flat out tells him no retiring and go for a repeat. Henry smiles because he knows his wife and family will be there for him and he for them when the time is right.
Now at Spring Training, Henry begins his 13th season with the organization ready to do it all again. He knows that he’ll be a champion regardless of 2018 and beyond. But regardless of what happens, he’ll always be proud of taking the journey from 2005-17. It wasn’t always easy and he had to endure criticism along the way. But at last, he is a champion and no one will ever tell him otherwise. He has it all. Good faith, good family and good teammates to support him through the good days and bad. Like the city of Houston, he is now stronger than ever before and he has the heart of a champion.