Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow uses a Seinfeld reference when pinpointing the time he saw the once-woebegone franchise start to turn around its fortunes on the way to becoming what it is today, the newly crowned World Series champion. Luhnow had arrived in December 2011, after the Astros lost 100-plus games in a season for the first time in their history, and his plan called for plenty more losing as they moved expensive veterans and built through high draft picks. The next two seasons were miserable, each worse than the previous one and bottoming out with a 51-111 record in 2013, but the next year signs of hope emerged. The Astros became more competitive, finishing at 70-92. They had a two-time All-Star in second baseman Jose Altuve. And a swashbuckling rookie named George Springer provided much-needed signs of better times to come. “Our fans were waiting for our process to start working and the players to start coming up,’’ Luhnow, drenched in champagne, recalled in a smoke-filled clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, where the Astros had defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in Wednesday’s Game 7 to capture their first-ever championship. “We had a lot of up-and-down guys, but when Springer arrived, there’s a Seinfeld episode — the summer of George — and I remember tweeting something out about the summer of George. He infused such energy into our team that from that point on I knew it was going to be all up and not down.’’ The Astros reached the summit by outlasting the Dodgers in a memorable World Series, and it was Springer who set the pace, batting .379, tying a record with five home runs and earning unanimous MVP honors. Springer doubled leading off the clincher, soon came around to score and capped Houston’s five-run outburst in the first two innings with a two-run homer off Yu Darvish. Turns out the autumn of George isn't that bad either.