Jose Altuve’s Heroics Seal Astros ALCS Win, Set Up Epic World Series vs. Nats
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Jose Altuve's teammates hold him up high as they celebrate the Astro's victory

HOUSTON — In the eye of the swirling storm around them, there was calm. There always is. Two outs from punching their World Series ticket, the Houston Astros had just taken a punch. To lesser teams, it might have been a knockout blow.

DJ LeMahieu had just drilled a two-run homer, the desperate New York Yankees saw a crack of light, and now they were pushing to muscle their way in.

Tied game, bottom of the ninth, two out, and New York closer Aroldis Chapman breathing dragon fire and spitting 100 mph sliders. But he had made a mistake: He had lost George Springer. He had jumped ahead in the count with a strike-one slider, but then he couldn’t locate the plate. He had delivered four consecutive balls.

In the Houston dugout, two outfielders sat together, Josh Reddick and Michael Brantley. It was Brantley who had helped position the Astros for this moment two innings earlier, with a full-on diving catch in left field before scrambling to his feet and throwing a one-hop pea to double off Aaron Judge at first base and end the seventh with a fabulously artful and incredibly rare 7-3 double play.

Now the sea of orange was deafening in Minute Maid Park and Jose Altuve was at the plate and Reddick watched Chapman deliver ball one, and then ball two. It was then, 2 and 0 count, Chapman having thrown six consecutive balls, that Reddick calmly leaned over and declared to Brantley, “Josie’s going to win this game right here for us.”

On the mound, Chapman threw his first strike in seven offerings, a slider that sailed by Altuve for a called strike.

And then he threw another, this one 83 mph and high in the zone, and in a flash, Altuve unleashed a quick, violent swing that sent a laser into the night.

The ball’s landing was the anticlimactic part. By then, everyone knew this one was over and the Astros had slayed the Yankees. Again, for the second time in three seasons in this ballpark, this time 6-4 in a Game 6 that started slowly and then veered toward classic.

“He’s one of the best,” Springer was saying moments later, soaked with champagne, standing on the field amid family and the warm embrace of a city that cannot get enough of these Astros. “I know right there I have to do anything I can to get to first base, and I was able to.

“He can do special things. There’s nothing he can’t do. Incredible moment. Incredible swing. Unbelievable.”

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Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez on being a Latina trailblazer — and healing from abuse
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Laurie Hernandez doing gymnastics

Gymnast Laurie Hernandez’s living room is decorated with many photographs. But two are the most special—one shows her parents praying before her performance at the 2016 Olympics and the other is of them hugging her afterwards.

“I love those photos,” Hernandez told NBC News. “Going to the Olympics, competing and then looking into the crowd and seeing my parents, that was one of the sweetest things I could possibly ever have witnessed…It’s just a big reminder as to how much support my parents have given me in all of this.”

Her Puerto Rican parents, Wanda and Anthony Hernandez, were watching their then-teenage daughter make history as the first Latina gymnast to represent the United States at the Olympics since 2004 — while also bringing home some medals. Hernandez won silver on the balance beam and gold on the team event alongside fellow USA gymnasts, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Madison Kocian.

“There was so much representation, from Black women to white women, a Hispanic girl, so I think that was a really important thing for just the globe to see,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said her fans will learn more about how she trains during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as “how I was raised and who my parents are” in the new Peacock Original documentary series “True Colors,” starring her and other Hispanic trailblazers, such as the actor Mario Lopez, the former professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among others.

“You’ll be able to get a really good feel as to why I am the way I am and why my siblings are the way we are,” Hernandez, who’s currently training for the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, said. “It’s been, definitely, a crazy ride. I’m only 20 and I feel like I’ve lived three lives already.”

Hernandez remembers being very passionate about the sport since a very young age. When she was still just a little girl training in New Jersey, she looked at her parents and said: “Hey, like I want to go to the Olympics. … I have all these crazy dreams.”

“They could have very easily been like, ‘You’re a child. You came out of the womb nine years ago, maybe let’s try something else.’ But they didn’t. Instead, they hit me with the ‘well, if this is what you want, then how can we help you?'” Hernandez recalled.

At the 2016 Olympics, her parents were praying “that I don’t wipe out,” while competing, she said.

“I didn’t realize it until after Rio. We had all sat down away from cameras and talked about it. And they were like, we really questioned if we were being good parents by letting you stay in it because you’re getting hurt over and over again, which is part of the sport,” Hernandez said. “But after getting surgery in 2014, they saw how determined I was and they were like, ‘OK, we can’t pull that away from her.'”

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Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Robert Half

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