(The Sports Xchange) - Houston Astros standout pitcher Dallas Keuchel had something he wanted to ask the thousands of fans lined outside City Hall on Friday who came to celebrate with the new World Series champions.
He surveyed the scene, squeezed the microphone and asked, “Houston, what the hell took us so long to win a World Series?”
A good question that now has a definite answer after the Astros won their first championship in their 56th season by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series.
More than 500,000 people lined the streets for a downtown parade on a muggy 86-degree day, just two-plus months since Hurricane Harvey ravaged the city.
Will the Astros visit the White House if invited by President Donald Trump?
“We just won the first world championship in Houston Astros history,” manager A.J. Hinch told reporters. “We’re also in one of the most divided countries, polarizing countries in politics.
“I don’t know that this is the best stage for everybody to declare one way or the other and try to comment on the moment and be too much of a political statement.”
- - -
The Astros picked up the contract option of leading American League MVP candidate Jose Altuve, the team announced.
Houston also picked up the option of outfielder/infielder Marwin Gonzalez.
Altuve will make $6 million next season as part of an extension he signed in 2013. Houston also holds a club option for 2019 on Altuve at $6.5 million.
Gonzalez will make $5.125 million next season. He batted .303 with 23 homers and 90 RBIs in 2017.
Houston is in the process of hiring Joe Espada away from the New York Yankees to be the team’s new bench coach.
- - -
New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has decided not to opt out of his contract.
“I have decided to stay with the Yankees for the next three seasons,” the Japanese right-hander said in a statement.
“It was a simple decision for me as I have truly enjoyed the past four years playing for this organization and for the wonderful fans of New York.
“I’m excited to continue to be a part of this team, and I’m committed to our goal of bringing a World Series Championship back.”
Tanaka had until 11:59 p.m. Saturday to opt-out of the seven-year, $155 million contract that he signed with the Yankees in 2017. He will be paid $67 million over the next three seasons.
The 29-year-old had a 13-12 record with a 4.74 ERA in 30 starts this season.
- - -
The Miami Marlins declined the 2018 option on outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, the team announced.
Suzuki, 44, is now a free agent after receiving a $500,000 buyout. The Marlins passed on the $2 million club option.
This could signal the end of Suzuki’s major league career.
Suzuki has 3,080 major league hits but started only 22 games last season. He batted .255 with three homers and 20 RBIs.
Editing by Gene Cherry