The Astros host Game 1 of the ALCS on Sunday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.
If you need proof that the Hollywood writers strike is over, don’t look any farther than the upcoming ALCS between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.
No action movie script could have done a better job pitting these two fiery, in-state rivals against each other.
For the Astros, the ALCS has become their annual stamping ground – this will be their seventh consecutive appearance. You know the numbers since 2017: seven Silver Boot Series titles in a row, four World Series berths, two championships. If experience plays a role in this ALCS, the Astros have been there, done that, won that.
This is all new territory for this group of Rangers. The last time the Rangers made the ALCS was 2011. Not one member of the current Rangers roster was on that team. By the way, the Rangers are one of only five teams that have never won the World Series. No sense starting now.
Astros vs. Rangers is undeniably the hottest and most acrimonious rivalry in baseball, drenching with deep-rooted dislike and southbound jealousy.
Giants v. Dodgers? That hasn’t mattered much since the teams fled New York City to Cali together 65 years ago.
Yankees v. Red Sox? Well, this year was a dismal, nobody cares battle between the last place team and the next-to-last place team in the American League East.
Just look how the American League West unfolded, with the Rangers commanding first place practically wire-to-wire, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by the Astros on the last day of the season. The teams tied with 90-72 records, with the Astros claiming the division title by virtue of their edge in head-to-head games. A tie isn’t like kissing your sister when it gives you a first-round bye in the playoffs.
What makes this ALCS even juicier, last week Rangers general manager Chris Young lashed out against an Astros beat writer who suggested that the Rangers perhaps celebrated clinching a spot in the post-season too much, causing them to relinquish the division. Since the general manager blew his cork anyway, more champagne, Rangers?
GM Young swears the Rangers didn’t party hearty in their clubhouse. He didn’t name the writer by name but dropped literary critiques like “classless,” “lack of professionalism,” “poor journalism” and “completely fabricated” on him. This from a city that gives us Skip Bayless.
The Astros enter the ALCS a veteran, experienced team in full blossom. Announcers are comparing slugger Yordan Alvarez’s historic power surge to legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and it’s not overhype. Facts are facts, statistics don’t lie. Jose Urquidy and Michael Brantley, locked in storage most of the season, have sparkled in the post-season. Jose and Bryan Abreu (not related) are crushing the playoffs. Jose is hitting home runs left and right (field), Bryan can’t be touched on the mound.
Oh, and I told you, give me Jeremy Pena at shortstop over Carlos Correa in the ALDS against Minnesota. Pena’s fielding gems flat out helped the Astros advance to the ALCS. Dyson should consider naming its next vacuum cleaner after Pena.
The Astros are clicking on all cylinders, starting pitching, the bullpen, hitting, fielding, Dusty Baker making all the right moves, Minute Maid Park rocking with a full house.
Meanwhile up in Arlington, there’ll be a lot of orange in the stadium and the Rangers have to know deep down that the Astros are the better team. It’s said that baseball is the most romantic sport. Well, there’s no love lost between the Astros and Rangers. That great philosopher and statesmen Ric Flair says, “to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” He might have said, “you got to be the man.”
Either way, the Astros are the man and the way NLDS matchups are breaking, the Astros will have home field advantage the rest of the way. And it’s looking more and more like a whole lot of Houstonians will be sleeping on free mattresses after the World Series.
Just like last year.
After a quiet offseason the Houston Astros finally made some moves this week to bolster their roster by adding backup catcher Victor Caratini in free agency.
The club also acquired some bullpen help by trading for Royals reliever Dylan Coleman.
Astros GM Dana Brown also garnered a lot of attention this week by proclaiming Jake Meyers will get an opportunity to be the everyday starter in center field.
And while the Astros have been connected to several free agent relief pitchers by various media outlets, it appears Houston isn't looking to spend much money.
On the other hand, the Yankees went out and traded for superstar outfielder Juan Soto, and have shot past the Astros when it comes to World Series odds.
Which begs the question, have the Astros done enough to compete with the Yankees in 2024?
To be fair, we've seen this movie before. The Yankees historically out spend every team, but they've been a little more conservative over the last few years.
But now, they look like the Yankees of old when it comes to payroll.
Plus, we heard rumors a few weeks ago that the Astros might be looking to trade Jake Meyers. And now all of a sudden he's getting the first crack at the starting job in center?
Could this be a smoke screen from Dana Brown to try to elevate his trade value? We've seen the Astros value defense in center field before, they let George Springer walk and replaced him with Myles Straw.
Be sure to watch the video above as we decipher what the Astros are really trying to accomplish this offseason, and successful they can be in the AL in 2024.