Astros On The Road 2020
My brother Tim is 7 years younger than I am and as big an Astros fan as there is. I passed it onto him. I was born in 76. He in 83. So he was excited in 86 because I was excited. But I knew they were his team when he was a kid and the Astros TV promos would say Astros Baseball: Feel the Charge and he would lose his mind with excitement.
No one was or is more loyal to the ‘Stros. He’s been to 15 straight opening days. Think what that means. How many 100 loss seasons he endured, with the positivity that a new season always brings hope. He was at opening day in 2017, the mythical year foretold by Sports Illustrated. And he’ll be there this year, the year where so many threaten to change what that season means to him.
How we got here isn’t important anymore. I’m not even sure it’s any clearer now than it was a month ago. It’s been told and retold and there are so many different sides to the story and probably many more sides to be revealed. With each telling, the story gets murkier, clouded by edited videos and experts speaking on conditions of anonymity. I’ve spoken about it on my show. I still believe the Astros are the 17 champs, I think they still win it and I am both mad at the Astros for doing what they did and putting even the slightest damper on those memories and mad at the media for continuing to spiral the story they want to tell.
What the team can expect has been prognosticated with almost glee by the national baseball media and Twitter sociopaths. The Astros will look like Robo-Cop at the end of the season, the result of so many fastballs taking their limbs and heads off. I think that side of it is much ado about nothing. The teams ‘mad’ at the Astros want to catch the Astros in the standings and you don’t do that by giving them free runners and suspending starting pitchers. The crowd, they say, will be hostile. More hostile than Oakland normally? The Astros and As are expected to battle for the division again. Me thinks it’s going to be tense no matter what. The Yankee stadium trip is in September? That was never going to be a walk in the park. Check the video from the bathrooms in Yankee stadium in 2019. (Which is maybe the weirdest sentence I’ve ever written.) As for the stops between? Mostly tanking teams with no turn out. And baseball attendance is dwindling overall as ticket prices multiply and multiply. I think more positively of the human condition than to think families that can’t afford to go to big league games will put themselves in a tough financial situation now to boo the Astros. What happens will happen and the fan reaction the Astros will endure will brought on, in large measure, by their actions.
Much has been paid to the reaction the Astros will get by fans. How will other players feel when Jose singles to left in Oakland. Do he and Matt Olsen chat it up about the off season like normal? Likely not in April. Probably by August, normalcy will return. But the one group not discussed are Astros fans, caught in the middle of all of this with expectations put on them no fan base can be expected to match. Angry and sad at their team while criticized for not abandoning their team altogether based on this scandal.
For my show, Let’s Get Two, I travel to a lot of ballgames. And while our show is focused on the minors, I always try to schedule trips near an Astros road game. This year, I’ll be hitting up the Astros road games in Toronto, New York (Mets), Baltimore, Oakland and Minnesota. I’m military vet and one of the things that never leaves you is situational preparedness. Planning for the worst instances. I sit near the door at theaters. I find all the exits at theaters. And the fact is, I have started to wonder, what will it be like to be in an Astros uniform at an away game. I’m not a jerk at away games. I love to experience what. The local flavor has to offer. I love talking to other fans and have, on more than occasion, bought beers for randoms at Minute Maid.
I figure there are three scenarios we will face on the road. The best case scenario will be one of compassion and commiseration. Is that possible in 2020? I think so. Especially when we’re not behind the invincibility screen of a keyboard. REAL baseball fans are baseball fans first. So hopefully, we’ll just talk baseball. The scandal will always be fair game of course, but hopefully fans will realize that 1) no Astros fan banged a trashcan. 2) we are as in the dark and a victim of it as anyone. 3) We all payed a lot of money to get out to the ballgame and are driving your economy.
I guess the ‘OK’ response will be some heckling. Look, I get it. No one knows more than I do how rare a title is and I understand any fan that feels aggrieved. Understand, even if I don’t agree. So, wanna toss some stuff my way. I can take it. In this OK example, the other fans are cognizant of the fans around them, including the kids.
The worst case? The worst case is the 2019 ALCS on drugs. Twitter come to life. Astros fans harassed and assaulted. Insults sent. Beer thrown. Something that, as I have discussed a bunch, my grandson experienced already in a random Target in Portland. Things can get out of hand and get out of hand quickly. In many way, the MLB and the media that covers them created a powder keg of angst between Astros fans and the other 29. The media has been first and not always right, but that doesn’t matter. And the MLB refuses to acknowledge this as a league wide problem. Why does that matter? The Astros have been painted as a villain. The ONLY one. Even if other teams aren’t punished, knowing what other teams might have done something similar will immediately defuse the situation brought on by. the ‘villain status’
The end result will be a mixture of both I assume. I still believe in the overall goodness of people and I think most will focus their frustration on the Astros and not on their fans. And some of those reactions will be driven by how we Astros fans conduct ourselves in response to these moments. Of course, there will be the ‘tough guy’ ‘loud mouths’ looking for a chance to be a tough guy. Hopefully MLB realizes how bad a look it will be if there is violence in the stands and takes measures to deescalate those rare instances.
Whatever happens, Astros fans. This too shall pass. Believe in your team. Stick with your guys. You don’t have to condone what they did to still support the team. For me, I was an Astros fan before this group of Astros. I will be an Astros fan after they’ve gone. And so will my brother.