The June 30, 2014 cover story of Sports Illustrated was about the Houston Astros. The headline read: “Baseball’s Great Experiment – Your 2017 World Series Champs….An Unprecedented Look at How a Franchise is Going Beyond Moneyball to Build the Next Great Thing.” The Astros were in last place at the time and had lost an average of 108 games in each of the previous three seasons.
What transpired in the following two seasons was a journey to renewal that is almost unheard of in today’s big money sports. After compiling a record of 101 regular season wins in 2017, they beat such iconic teams as the Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Dodgers throughout the Playoffs to become the 2017 World Series Champions, their first successful championship.
Those of us with histories and struggles with addictions can see the beauty of such achievements, winning against all odds, as we do in recovery. For us, the chances of an addict fully steeped in his/her addiction achieving long term recovery is less than 10% by various surveys. Living with the Astros in Houston in the 2017 season, on top of its previous ones, put all of us front and center in an almost equally improbably experience.
The 2017 Astros were mostly a team of upstarts playing for their first Major League Baseball Club, individuals who marshaled a unified team spirit that seemed unbeatable in all the most critical games. Their enthusiasm for the team, for each game and for each other was infectious. In the midst of the season, Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and took everyone’s attention away to more critical things. The players rose to the occasion and were a big part of various recovery efforts, so that as things settled down the City came back to them with a massively renewed spirit. Success on the baseball field became as much a signal of a never-say-die spirit as was each and every citizen’s recovery from the flooding.
As John Sexton chronicled about baseball in his aforementioned book, there were dozens of individual and collective stories of heroism on the ball field as there were in the City’s recovery efforts in the waning months of the season…enough for all of us to see the heroism of ourselves and our fellows in the recovery from addictions. For this truly was another Journey of the Ages.
In the final game against the Dodgers on Nov 1, as the innings wore on, you could see the light brightening in the Houston faces, just as it seemed to fade in those of L.A. While those of us in addiction recovery can never achieve an ultimate victory such as did the Astros over their 2017 opponents, the process of continuingly experiencing the emerging lightness of being with which our sober living provides us contains at least as much joy and happiness.