The case to rethink a common (and flawed) Astros, Yankees narrative

The case to rethink a common (and flawed) Astros, Yankees narrative
Yankee envy needs to stop. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

What the hell happened last night?

The Astros lost a game, 7-4, to the lowly Kansas City Royals. Huh? Since when do the Astros lose? We might want to check to make sure the Earth didn’t fall off its axis, too.

You should have heard the fans wringing their hands on the radio post-game show … what about trading for another reliever, what about sitting Yuli Gurriel, what’s the deal with Kyle Tucker’s fielding, why does Dusty sit multiple starters the same game? Questions, questions, questions.

You do realize that things couldn’t be better in Astros world, right? In fact they’ve never been better. Really. Let’s Cap’n Crunch the numbers. The Astros record at the 2022 midpoint is 58-23. That’s better than the Astros four World Series years: 2005 (38-42-1), 2017 (54-27), 2019 (50-31), and 2021 (48-33).

In case you’re wondering, yes, the then-National League Astros played a tie game in 2005. Their June 30 game against the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ball Park ended 2-2 when rain halted the action in the seventh inning. Stranger, the Astros’ two runs were driven in by starting pitcher Brandon Backe’s double in the second inning.

The game was replayed from the start a few days later, which the Reds won, 4-3. While the tie game didn’t count in the final standings – it was replayed from the start a few days later with the Reds winning 4-3 - hitting and pitching stats from the tie did count and were included in the season’s final totals. Weird rule.

Astros fans need to get over their market-size inferiority complex. Announcers last night gushed over the marvelous, MVP-level season that Yordan Alvarez is having … “but they’ll probably give the MVP to Aaron Judge because he plays in New York.”

Yes, the announcers – our announcers – said that. What are they talking about? Let’s look it up.

When was the last time a Yankee won the MVP? It was 2007 when Alex Rodriguez won it. Since then, Astros Jose Altuve was the MVP in 2017.

When was the last time a Yankee won the Cy Young Award? It was 2001 when Roger Clemens won it. Since then, two Astros have won it, Dallas Keuchel (2015) and Justin Verlander (2019).

When was the last time a Yankee won Rookie of the Year? It was Aaron Judge in 2017. Since then, Astro Yordan Alvarez won it in 2019.

Most important, when was the last time the Yankees went to the World Series? It was 2009. Since then the Astros have made three World Series appearances, including the title in 2017.

The simple fact is, the Houston Astros are a glamour team and decidedly more successful on the field than the Yankees in recent years. More successful than any other MLB team, in fact.

This year the Astros have strong candidates for MVP (Alvarez), Cy Young (Verlander) and Rookie of the Year (Jeremy Pena).

Yankee envy needs to stop. They need to be more worried about us than us about them. The Yankees have been our patsies the past decade. And still are. Didn’t we just no-hit them in their stadium? That had to leave a mark.

The Astros have a 13-game lead in the American League West, and if they don’t fall off a cliff or run into a painted tunnel like Wile E. Coyote will qualify for a first-round bye in baseball’s newfangled playoff system.

Astros management is making all the right moves. A few months ago, fans were crying in their Wheaties over losing Carlos Correa, who signed for $35 million per year in Minnesota. So we handed the shortstop position to rookie Jeremy Pena. How’s that working out? Pena is becoming a local hero while making "only" $700,000, practically to the penny 1/50th of Correa’s paycheck. One fiftieth! And Pena is under Astros’ control for five more seasons. Sometimes the best purchases are the ones you don't make.

Out of left field

Astros games on ATT SportsNet are a nightly joy, except when Apple TV steals a game and wrecks our lives with their inane announcers.

If you’re looking for an Astros social slip-up, here’s the only one I can find. How did this get past the marketing department?

You’ve probably heard the radio commercial for a wireless company that starts: “This is Geoff Blum, your favorite Astros color commentator.”

Blum works Astros games on TV. The spot runs exclusively on radio, including the Astros flagship radio station where Steve Sparks is the color commentator. How do you think Sparks feels when that commercial runs, his own station letting Blum say he – not Sparks – is the fans’ favorite?

This is like someone letting their dog poop on a neighbor’s lawn, not picking it up, and waving to the neighbor glaring in the front window.

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