ROLE REVERSAL

Why all signs point to a changing of the guard between Yankees and those 'Damn Astros'

We can get used to this! Composite image by Brandon Strange.

I attended elementary school at P.S. 125 in Manhattan. We lived in an apartment building across the street at Grant’s Tomb.

Yankee Stadium was 3.3 miles away: four stops and 12 minutes on the subway. We went as kids. Safest place in the world. Then.

Kids and their parents and everybody else in New York loved the Yankees, the winningest team in American sports lore. There are 27 World Series pennants blowin’ in the wind above Yankee Stadium. I didn’t realize then that everywhere else, everybody else hated the Yankees. Winning is easy to hate when it’s the other guys doing it.

First there was the book called The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. It was made into a long-running and still occasionally revived Broadway musical called Damn Yankees. The plot has a long-suffering baseball fan, not a New Yorker, who despises the Yankees so much that he sells his soul to the devil in exchange for the Bronx Bombers losing the pennant. The musical was even made into a movie.

Now, I’m a Houstonian. I live 6.4 miles from Minute Maid Park — just double the distance of my old home to Yankee Stadium — and I drive to the ballpark on the Southwest Freeway. Takes me 15 minutes. Unlike Yankee Stadium now, Minute Maid Park is a safe, fun place.

The Yankees then. The Astros now.

Striking similarities

Beloved at home. Hated in 29 other baseball towns. The Yankees used to win, win, win. The Astros now — good luck trying to beat these guys.

This year, it may take more than the devil to stop the lovable, Damn Astros from winning the World Series.

It was poetic justice, straight from a Broadway script, that the Astros went to New York to complete a merciless sweep of the Yankees on Sunday, October 23. A week before, New York fans pleaded, “We want Houston.” Be careful what you wish for. Better, just keep quiet.

Astros pitchers struck out Yankees batters like a video game set on “easy.” Astros rookie Jeremy Peña won MVP of the American League Championship Series. Remember when Astros fans were worried if he could fill Carlos Correa’s shoes at shortstop? Manager Dusty Baker is headed to his third World Series as a manager. Justin Verlander could win another truck to drive his wife’s horses around. How cool is José Altuve? Mired in a historic postseason slump, Altuve was willing to pose for a selfie with a lunatic who ran onto the field in the ninth inning of a close ALCS game.

The nanosecond that Yankee slugger Aaron Judge tapped back to Ryan Pressly, who’s been more untouchable than Eliot Ness, for the final out, my email lit up – the Astros store at Minute Maid Park would stay open night and day to sell ALCS Astros gear. Dick’s Sporting Goods would have extended hours and curb service for T-shirts, hats and other commemorative apparel. Academy has everything Astros you could want.

And all those hip, fashionable fans have options, too.

Some sweet World Series action

Astros fans should be well dressed and with a little luck, well rested if the Astros go all the way. Mattress Mack is still running his promotion – buy a $3,000 mattress and you get your money back if the Astros win the World Series. When the promotion started, the Astros were a longshot. Now they’re the favorites. As Cosmo Kramer would say, that’s some sweet action.

The Astros promotions department is on high alert: more replica ring giveaways for fans in 2023. Championship rings are the most popular giveaways in the team’s history. At this rate, Astros fans will have more rings than Jennifer Lopez and Pam Anderson (currently tied at 4 — both active).

A word of advice for politicians attempting to glom onto the Astros popularity – don’t. Senator Ted Cruz posted photos and congratulated the Astros on Twitter. The replies were brutal (just scroll down—sad!)

Defeating the empire

Where do the Astros and Yankees go from here?

Continue on CultureMap to learn more!

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Upton and Verlander are headed to the Big Apple. Photo by Elsa/ Getty Images.

News erupted on a relatively quiet Monday, December 5 that Houston Astros superstar ace and Cy Young Award-winnerJustin Verlander inked a deal with the New York Mets.

According to the New York Post, Verlander, a free agent, agreed to a two-year, $86 million deal with the Mets, with a vesting, third-year option for $35 million. While that's huge news in the world of pro baseball, Verlander's superstar model wife Kate Upton has been also trending on Twitter.

No surprise there, as cover girl and fashion influencer Upton boasts more than 6 million followers on Instagram alone and one of the most followed models on the globe. But it's not a cover shot or sizzling bikini pic making the rounds, but rather, a video of the supermodel shooting the bird to Philadelphia Phillies fans.

Upton, an oft-smiling mom and wife, had no problem backing down from Philly Fan with a double-barreled, middle finger salute. While the audio is hard to decipher, we're guessing Upton didn't edit her smack talk in the dubious City of Brotherly Love.

Plenty of local talk (if one is interested in that sort of thing) points to the Mets being the team for "real" NYC baseball fans, while Yankees fans are said to be band-wagoning, late to games, and full of corporate partners. It's also good optics that Verlander didn't bolt for the team that the Astros dispatched in a four-game sweep on the way to their second World Series title.

Houston fans will no doubt miss Upton, who wed Verlander, gave birth to darling daughter Genevieve, and essentially broke the internet when she donned a retro Astros jacket — making it an instant sellout — all while here in the Bayou City. As transplants from there regularly point out, Houston is notoriously friendlier than the Big Apple.

But, something tells Upton, who has proven that she's not afraid to go publicly potty-mouthed in defense of JV, will have zero problem handling any mouthy NYC fans.

Upton clearly gives zero bleeps when defending her man. Kate Upton/Twitter

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