Jermaine Every: Remember the Tombstone?
Sports give us a rollercoaster ride of emotions. The ups and downs can often times be enough to cause us actual physical pain, or euphoric amounts of dopamine to block out life’s ills. There are some sports moments we simply won’t forget. Your team’s first title win. The time you last saw your favorite player play. Where you were when some of these things happened.
On the flip side, there are also moments of regret. For example: when you burned the jersey of a player that left your team, when you said you’d never watch another game of (insert team or sport name here), perhaps you’ve been guilty of rooting against your team for whatever reason, or maybe you’ve prematurely predicted your team’s demise. That was the case for the Houston Astros back in 2005.
On Wednesday June 1, 2005, the Houston Chronicle published one of its most infamous Sports section covers when it depicted the Astros season on a tombstone. The Astros were 15-30 at the time and were seemingly dead in the water. They were like the fish in the bowl you’re ready to flush because it appears to be floating lifelessly, but suddenly it comes to life and swims like it never has before. That team went on to make the World Series by riding the wave of a great pitching staff. Although they got swept by the Chicago White Sox, they were able to make it that far after being counted out.
I bring that up because the 2018 Astros are being written off as if they are falling short of the expectations after winning a World Series last year. Fans are hitting the panic button so hard and so frequently that it may be broken already after only ten percent of the season has been played! Through sixteen games, the 2017 Astros were 11-5, scored 67 runs, and allowed 55 runs. Meanwhile, the 2018 Astros are 10-6, have scored 67 runs and have given up 49 runs props to @itsdtrain on Twitter for the reminder).
Houston sports fans are notorious for hitting the panic button, and doing so much too soon. Some Astros’ fans are already in full-blown panic mode. They are now 10-7 after last night’s 2-1 loss, which means they’re about ten percent into this season. Does anyone rush to judgment after the first game if the Houston Texans lose? What if the Houston Rockets are 5-3 after their first eight games? Does their fan base lose their minds and freak out thinking the season is lost?
Sure, the starting pitching isn’t where fans would like it to be (particularly Dallas Keuchel, which is why I think they should move him at the trade deadline this year). Of course the bullpen (mainly the “closer” Ken Giles) could be better, but there’s time left to figure that out. The bats are seemingly asleep, however, they have 145 games left to wake up and mash like they did in previous seasons. Yes, the Los Angeles Angels are in first place and seem to have bounced back, but how long can they enjoy this much success and maintain first place in the division?
It’s too early to punt on the Astros this season. Blame the dreaded World Series hangover if it makes you feel better, but this team is different. They have a great blend of vets who have been through the wars, and young guys who don’t know any better. I firmly believe they’ll right the ship soon and get back to their winning ways. The starting pitching staff has a chance to be one of the best in baseball. The lineup can easily correct itself and become more feared. The only position that seems as if it may be shaky all season is the bullpen. But with a few tweaks and changes, it too can become a stronghold for this team. I’m not ready to hit the panic button on the Astros, and neither should you.