HIGHER CULTURE: Cristian Javier's Story Shows the American Dream Is Alive and Well

Now you’ve heard the saying: A picture is worth a thousand words. There’s a picture like that, and it helps tell the story of Cristian Javier better than a thousand of my words ever could. It also reaches far beyond what happened on the baseball diamond Wednesday night, and I feel like it’s a story you’ll want to hear. But we need to back up a little bit first.

The 2022 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros has been a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs, with both teams’ passion to win on full display in every inning through the first five games.

I shared what happened in the series’ wild start last Friday night, when the odds were in the Houston club’s favor going into the fifth inning–until they weren’t. Then I wrote on Wednesday about the remarkable achievement the Astros and their pitchers pulled off in Game 4 of this year’s Fall Classic, with starter Cristian Javier and the team’s bullpen crafting a combined no-hitter against the Phillies–only the second time that’s happened in World Series history. And if you watched Friday night’s matchup, you saw even more heroics from the Astros, both on offense and defense, in their Game 5 win to go up 3-2 in the series.

In an interview with FOX Sports after pitching in Game 4, Javier, who hails from the Dominican Republic, told the interviewer (through a translator) that his parents told him before his start that he would have a no-hitter. The way he speaks about it tells you everything about his upbringing.

“Yeah, they told me last night,” Javier said after the Astros did just that.

Javier said his response to his parents was, “We’re going to stay positive, and with God helping us, we were going to do it.”

Faith in God can’t be waved away, in a life story like this one. After Wednesday’s game, maybe in a moment of overwhelm, I dived into some calming reading, “sayings from St. Francis de Sales [which] have been gleaned from his collected letters, homilies, conferences and publications.” His wisdom on two subjects — “Trying to be Perfect” and “Relaxation & Recreation” — seem appropriate here.

First, after a nearly perfect game, some words on perfection:

When we aim at perfection,
we must aim at the center,
but we must not be troubled
if we do not always hit it.


We must suffer our imperfection
in order to have perfection.

Then, on enjoying life away from work and study (and politics), or as he calls it, “recreation”:

Games in which winning results from
bodily or mental dexterity or activity…
provide good relaxation and are
perfectly justified.


It is actually a defect to be so strict, austere
and unsociable that one permits neither oneself
nor others any recreation time.

In another postgame interview Wednesday, Astros manager Dusty Baker talked about Javier’s unlikely journey to the pitcher’s mound in the 2022 World Series, telling FOX Sports:

“This guy made the team during that COVID year, 2020. We thought we knew what we had, but we really didn’t. His control was a little off at the time. He’s learned to control, he has a much better slider than he had been, and the sky is the limit for that young man.”

As Baker pointed out, it seemed fated; it was one “Cristian” pitching to another (Astros catcher Christian Vázquez).

Moments after Wednesday’s game ended, MLB Network broadcaster and NBC News contributor, Jon Morosi shared the powerful picture I mentioned at the beginning.

It shows the player back in the D.R., earlier in “that COVID year.” When Baker talks about Javier making the Astros’ roster in 2020, this wasn’t in a trade. That was when he entered the major leagues.

A young man goes from throwing from pitches to anyone with a catcher’s mitt in the Dominican Republic in 2020 to starting a World Series game in November 2022. It sounds like something you’d see on a movie screen (maybe a movie like “Hustle“). But this is Cristian Javier’s real life. And what he’s achieved is bigger than one baseball game or series–it’s the American Dream. He shows that if you put your head down, grind it out when things look their worst, stay humble, and strive for patience, this can be anyone.

As Morosi writes in his tweet, as much to Javier as to all of us, “Never stop dreaming.”


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