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A city once in ruin, submerged in the floodwaters of a hurricane, emerged to earn a historic World Series championship. Rewind to Aug. 31, 2017, when at noon, 34-year-old Justin Verlander signed with the Houston Astros. At 12:01 p.m. of the same day, 37 people were confirmed dead in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Tragedy often seems to motivate athletes. The Saints won the Super Bowl following Katrina, and the Red Sox won the World...

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On the mound is Yu Darvish, the 31-year-old son of an Iranian father and Japanese mother who came to the Los Angeles Dodgers by way of his native Japan after a stint with the Texas Rangers. At bat is Houston Astros first baseman Yuri Gurriel, a 33-year-old signed with Houston after defecting from Cuba in 2016. On the fourth pitch, with a 2-1 count, Gurriel swings at Darvish’s 94.5 mph two-seam fastball and starts what...