It’s Thursday, and the Houston Astros are still really the 2017 World Series champions. For a city that’s known so much heartache—both in sports and, lately, in more tangible and long-lasting ways—the fact that the Davids of Houston slew the Goliaths of Los Angeles is the sort of victory that can buoy an entire city’s spirits for months to come.
But the Astros aren’t the only winners to come out of this World Series, and the Dodgers—who played tough, and who could have stolen game seven had the first two innings not broken so favorably for the ‘Stros—aren’t the only losers. As we prepare for the baseball-free months ahead, let’s take a look at all of the winners and losers to come out of the 2017 series.
WINNER: Carlos Correa and Daniella Rodriguez
Correa’s post-game celebratory gesture was a bit grander than those of his teammates. Most of the players jumped up and down and popped champagne while wearing goggles (to avoid losing an eye to a stray cork or suffering corneal damage from the alcohol content). Correa did that, too, but he also got engaged, right there on the dang field. According to teammate Alex Bregman, Correa had initially planned to pop the question after the Astros won game six—but when they gave up the game to the Dodgers, he had a clubhouse attendant babysit the ring for game seven so he could celebrate a couple of momentous, life-changing events all at once. When the Astros won, Correa proposed right then and there, with a massive ring—he could probably hit it out of the park, if he tried.
LOSER: The Houston Rockets Twitter feed
The poor Rockets played in New York last night, and they attempted to update their fans about the game’s progress through social media.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) November 2, 2017
The problem, of course, is that all of sports-loving Houston was laser-focused on the Astros. There’s not a whole lot that the Rockets could have done—they’re couldn’t stop playing to cheer on their baseball-playing cousins—but fans nonetheless dragged the Rockets’ social media manager on Twitter for ignoring the goings-on in Los Angeles last night. Ultimately, after the ‘Stros clinched, the Rockets did pay tribute to the other hometown team that picked up a W, too.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) November 2, 2017
WINNER: Mattress Mack
Beloved Houston mattress icon Jim McIngvale earned the goodwill of the entire nation for the way he cared for people during Hurricane Harvey. For game seven, he went above and beyond even his own sterling reputation by chartering a plane and offering forty Houstonians, including first responders, ex-military, and everyday fans, the chance to fly to L.A. and attend the game in person. (Winners were granted their tickets through radio and in-person promotions around the mattress store.) Sure, it’s a stunt, but it’s a generous one, and it solidifies Mattress Mack as one of the most beloved figures in the city of Houston.
LOSER: Mattress Mack
That said, the guy also did promise refunds of up to $3,000 to anyone who bought a mattress from him recently if the Astros won. Mattress Mack has done big bets before, and he’s always good for ’em—but this one will cost him $10 million, which earns him a spot in our “losers” category.
WINNER: Anybody who saved the June 30, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated
The issue famously declared the Astros to be the 2017 World Series Champions. At the time, it was an attention-grabbing way to show how advanced analytics and data were changing baseball management again, a decade and a half since Moneyball. As the ninth inning rode to a close on Wednesday, though, the prediction became a prescient piece of Astros lore, the sort of thing that diehard fans would want to keep in their shrines to the team and pass on through generations. Which means that anybody who had a copy in good shape, and who put it on eBay, cleaned up: One copy sold for $560 last night, and the bidding on copies currently available tends to push over $500 each, too. We’ll stop short of calling this a rare win for the magazine industry, but good work to anybody who relentlessly catalogs their back issues!
LOSER: Ted Cruz’s tacky campaign memorabilia
Celebrating your hometown team’s wins is a time-honored method of political pandering, and politicians of both parties are guilty of it. That said, Senator Cruz’s approach went beyond just pandering to court Astros fans:
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 2, 2017
The Astros belong to everybody—Republican, Democrat, or Independent—and appropriating the team’s colors and fonts to boost your own campaign is a tacky gesture. It’s not wrong, necessarily, just extra.
WINNER: The people of Houston
— Steve Gonzales (@stevegonzaleshc) November 1, 2017
After Hurricane Harvey, the past couple of months have been a testament to the spirit and resilience of the people of Houston. Those tough experiences make a big win like the World Series mean more: Sports matter because they’re a low-stakes stage on which the major issues that face all of us play out. We haven’t all had to face Clayton Kershaw at his peak, but we’ve all had to overcome situations in which conventional wisdom says we’re in over our heads. We haven’t all had José Altuve as a teammate, but we’ve all had to count on the best people in our lives to lift our spirits and come through when we needed them. We care what happens to the Astros, when we choose to identify with them, because we know exactly how hard it is to get a win when you need it most. And after the hurricane and the flood and the aftermath, Houston absolutely needed a win. An Astros World Series win doesn’t clear the mold out of someone’s house, or restore their lost belongings, or put a roof over anyone’s head. But it tells us that difficult things are possible, no matter how stacked the odds seem.
A few years ago, the biggest story about the Astros was that they got a 0.00 Nielsen rating on Houston television; today, they’re the World Series champs. If a fan—one who has spent days ripping ruined insulation out of the walls of their family home—got to spend their nights cheering for George Springer and Justin Verlander, that matters. Sports, at their best, aren’t just a distraction: They’re a microcosm for the hard moments in life. They’re a chance to vicariously experience failure and heartbreak in a place where the personal stakes for most of us are ultimately low, and to experience victory and joy that we can bring to difficult areas of our lives. The Dodgers are a likable team and their fans would have been thrilled to finally reclaim a World Series title—but Houston needed this. And they got it.