The case for fanaticism and vigilance from Astros fans

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Astros have been punished by Major League Baseball for their sign stealing scandal. The fines, loss of draft picks, and scarlet letter led owner Jim Crane to fire then manager A.J. Hinch and then general manger Jeff Luhnow on the same day, literally within hours of the league announcing their findings and sanctions. Mind you, this was in the offseason between the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Yet opposing teams, and especially their fan bases, have continued to give the Astros the business regarding the scandal and its fallout.

There have been trash cans, banging on trash cans, cheater memes/signs/paraphernalia, amongst other things used to try to distract this team and tease its fans. Shirts, hats, and signs with various forms of referencing the scandal. There were even inflatable and actual trash cans being thrown onto the fields. There's been enough crap thrown at the Astros and their fans! It's time to fight back dammit!

Ever since the 2017 World Series win, and especially after the scandal, I wear Astros gear every chance I get! When I know I'm going to be around fans of opposing teams, it makes me want to wear my gear even more. When I rejoined the dating scene and was encouraged to make online profiles on dating apps, I made sure to have pics of me in Astros gear. Any woman I'm going to get involved with on any level is going to realize I'm an Astros fan and will have to accept that. I've taken a "bleep you" approach when it comes to my Astros fandom. Like it or love it, you'll have to respect it.

Photo via: Jermaine Every

Astros fans need to do the same thing. Instead of being polite, respectful, and friendly, lean into the dark side! Embrace the hate! Let it fuel your interactions with other fan bases! When they start to boo your team and make signs about the scandal, point at them and laugh, then ask where their rings are. The Dodgers won a ring last year in a pandemic shortened season. The Yankees and Red Sox were also found to have cheated, but MLB has shielded them and other teams from punishment by hiding evidence. If you're waiting to see that infamous Yankees letter, you'll likely die a thousand deaths before we see even a redacted form of it.

Did other teams cheat? Hell yeah they did! Did they get punished like the Astros did? Bleep no! MLB couldn't have any of their flagship franchises in hot water. Has sign stealing been around a long time? Yes, since the beginning of the sport itself! Should we give a damn that opposing teams and fan bases continue to hold a grudge and make jokes? Bleep no! Lean into it and let them know we don't give a damn!

I wrote an article published on February 13, 2020 about the Astros embracing their heel turn. This time, I'm not only calling for the team to embrace this, but it's time for the fans to do so as well. Don't be jerks to opposing fans, but don't be overly hospitable if they show signs of being dickweeds. Boo their best players. Cheer their mistakes. Don't go as far as cheering injuries, but definitely push the envelope. Most of all, have fun, but do so safely. Rooting for your team isn't worth losing your freedom or life. Lean into being the bad guy. It may be the last shot you get because this team may not be this good for long.

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Luis Garcia played his part in a pitcher's duel with Carlos Rodon on Friday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With an impressive offensive onslaught to overpower Chicago in game one of this series, the Astros entered this second of four games hoping to keep their momentum going. After an impressive pitcher's duel left the game tied late into the game, Houston would edge out the win with a big walk-off in the ninth.

Final Score: Astros 2, White Sox 1

Astros' Record: 41-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Garrett Crochet (2-3)

Garcia matches Rodon in a pitcher's duel

Both starting pitchers were very effective, save one inning, in their respective seven innings of work. For Luis Garcia, he had his struggles in the top of the first to start the game, allowing a one-out double and single to put runners on second and third, setting up an RBI single to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead.

He limited the damage to that one run, both in that inning and the rest of his night, as he would follow that with six straight scoreless frames. Once he found his groove in the fourth, he would retire 12 of 13 batters he faced over that span to get through seven one-run innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 96 P.

For Houston, it took until one out into the fifth inning to get a hit and their first baserunner against Carlos Rodon. That sparked an opportunity to grab a lead, as they would go on to load the bases still with one out but would get just one run out of it with a two-out RBI walk by Martin Maldonado to tie the game up 1-1.

Astros walk it off in the ninth

Ryne Stanek was first out of Houston's bullpen in the top of the eighth, erasing a one-out walk for a scoreless inning to keep things gridlocked. Still in a stalemate in the top of the ninth, the Astros opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and keep it tied to set up a potential walk-off. He was perfect, striking out Chicago 1-2-3 to send it to the home half.

In the bottom of the ninth, Yuli Gurriel got the winning run on base by hitting a one-out single. That brought Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who got the walk-off hit, roping a ball into the right-field corner deep enough for Gurriel to hustle from first to home to win it for Houston, 2-1.

Up Next: Now having won five in a row, the Astros will try to lock up this series in game three of four on Saturday at 6:15 PM Central. Lance Lynn (7-2, 1.51 ERA) will try to get a win for the White Sox, while Framber Valdez (3-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his 2021 success for Houston.

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