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By Brandon C. Williams
BY THE TIME YOU read this, the Astros  could either be one win away from their first World Series championship or looking to push matters back to Dodger Stadium for Game 6 on Tuesday night and (perhaps) a potential Game 7 on Wednesday night. Regardless of outcome (yes, fans, the Dodgers could actually celebrate a World Series title at Minute Maid Park), the team’s success
has already given the area a reinforced sense of pride in the wake of what we all endured more than two months ago.  Many of our neighbors are still piecing together their lives, for as the water
has long since subsided, the pain and memories of Hurricane Harvey is still felt. Time heals all wounds, yet the eight weeks since the wrath of Mother Nature took lives, drenched memories
and introduced our area to a host of heroes, the lingering effects have not gone away. However, the play of the Astros has become a rallying point, a story that reminds us that when we are
weak, the strong among the others are there to pick us up. You didn’t have to be at Minute Maid Park to be awash in the glow of the Astros.  This weekend will see local bars and eating establishments filled with American League Championship shirts,  throwback caps and a host of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa jerseys. Even the power of Friday Night Lights paid homage; each area high school football stadium either cheered in unison or groaned in a painful yet optimistic sigh when the public address announcer gave a scoring update. Even in Winnie, where La Marque played East Chambers, the press box was filled with iPads tuned into the MLB app, where we could get a glimpse of every ball and strike while focusing on first downs and touchdowns.  Sports, has, does and always will be a galvanizing force to bring unity in the worst of times. We saw how the devastation of Harvey personally impacted the Astros, who, in unspoken terms, saw us,
the fan, in every pitch and at-bat. The addition of Justin Verlander less than an hour before the August 31 trade deadline closed came at a moment when many of our neighbors were without power while some were still unable to reach their home. Others were in shelters, yet Verlander’s arrival proved to be one of the first glimmers of light that we could hold on to. When many lacked little to nothing to turn for a positive sign, watching Verlander embrace the pain of the city he was now calling home was a small yet important step.  The Astros filled a void in countless
lives, as we have seen during this postseason. Our hearts continue to be tugged each time we hear of some family that has been helped in some way by the team or in the social media posts
of those who have seen the Astros become a beacon light which guided them to safe harbor. It would be impossible to say we don’t know anyone who has had their spirits lifted up by the franchise
because far too many of us have been revived in a spiritual way.  John Ringer is one of those people.  Over the past month, John has battled health problems, but the Texas City resident has found a healing power from the Astros. He hasn’t missed a pitch this postseason and with each win, John, along with his wife, Lou, call it a night knowing that each win brings them — and the Astros — one step closer to earning history.  The photo of the Ringers speaks volumes.  Not only does it speak of love and an embodiment of what a marriage should look like, it proudly speaks of how sports changes lives. Despite all of the controversy surrounding the sports world these days, this photo hammers home the love of true fans. The Ringers have indeed lived a life that defines “Happily Ever After,” but, as I’m sure John would add, that ever after is more wonderful with a World Series title coming to Houston. GO JOHN AND LOU RINGER. GO ASTROS.

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