FALCON POINTS

Yes, fans have the right to boo the Astros. You have the right to ignore it

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As we prepare for the start of baseball and the restart of the NBA, Houston sports fans will get to revisit some old story lines. Can James Harden and Rona Westbrook pull it together long enough for one surprising playoff run? If the Dynamo fall in the bubble, does anyone hear it? And most common, will the national media ever get over the Astros scandal?

To quote Letterkenny: That's a hard no.

It's already started, of course. ESPN.com had an article on how fans are being cheated from booing the Astros. While he is correct in that other team's fans would have been merciless (and still will when they finally get the chance), speculating that the Astros own fans would boo is kind of silly. Using a spring training game as an example is a fail. Spring training draws fans from all teams.

That aside, you can expect more sanctimonious, holier-than-thou diatribes in the coming weeks on the subject. The main question is why? It's pretty simple. The Astros cheated. They got caught. They got punished. End of story.

At least it should be the end of the story. But we live in a media culture where everything is overanalyzed, over reported, and hot takes rule the day.

The reason is simple: Media members want to be part of the story. There is an entire cottage industry based on what members of the media say. Websites publish stories daily detailing hot takes. And the Astros are an easy target. It's nothing new. The Saints Bountygate case was endlessly and pointlessly debated. Deflategate led to lengthy debates on PSI. Everyone had a take, screaming into the microphones, using pejorative phrases and inflaming the subject, context be damned.

It's not just sports. Wear a mask. Don't wear a mask. Everyone has a take, and their take has to be heard, because it is the most important. What gets lost is reason and context, because that does not contribute to the noise. Takes are designed to get a reaction, to get a response, and build upon themselves.

So how do we change it? Stop retweeting takes. Ignore the noise. It can't grow without being fed. The Astros will be the obvious topic again over the next few months. Rather than get enraged, just move on. Comment on real topics with context and depth; avoid the either/or mentality.

Is that realistic? Probably not. We live in a "gotcha" society. If someone messes up, they are to be canceled. That will include the Astros. All of the takes that dominated earlier in the year will be back. This is just the first of many stories to deal with the issue.

Hey, Fred, isn't this whole column just responding to a hot take? Gotcha!

Perhaps. But the point is bigger. The hot take response would be "Waaah. You don't get to boo. Poor you." The reality is the writer uses the Astros as a way to make booing acceptable, which is fine. There is not a lot to dispute there. But it also uses the scandal of the day as an entrance point. There will be a lot more of this moving forward and the best thing Astros fan can do is ignore the noise, enjoy the ride as the team rolls to another World Series title in 2020.

Then the noise will be louder than ever.

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This is getting out of hand. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images.

Dr. Rick warns his patients, young homeowners who are turning into their parents, you can expect to pay more for snacks and drinks at a movie theater. It's the same deal at a professional sports venue. Three years ago, I put a down payment on a cheeseburger at Toyota Center ... I still have three more payments to go before I get it.

But this is ridiculous. The PGA Championship, the lesser (least) of golf's majors, is charging $18 for a beer, a 25-ounce Michelob Ultra, at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa. It's $19 for a Stella Artois. You can buy a six-pack for less at the supermarket. Aren't there laws against price gouging, like during a hurricane? Isn't Tulsa where the Golden Hurricanes play? Get FEMA in here. Did tournament directors get together and ponder, how can we piss off our fans? Sure, it's Tulsa and there's not much else to do, but that's no excuse.

Charging $18 for a beer makes the concession stands at Minute Maid Park look like a Sunday morning farmer's market. A 25-ounce domestic beer during an Astros game is $13.49. A 25-ounce premium beer is $14.45. Yeah, that's high for a beer, but at Minute Maid Park there are lots of hands in the till. Aramark wants to make a profit, the taxman has big mitts, and the Astros want their cut, too. Look, you want to sign Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez to an extension or not? Then drink up and don't complain. Some quiet grumbling and head-shaking is permitted, however.

You know the PGA Championship is charging too much for a beer when even the rich pampered players take notice. "18 (!!!!!) for a beer ... uhhh what," former PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas tweeted. "Good thing I don't drink a lot."

Like he will be in line for a beer at a public concession booth, anyway.

Of course there will be fans sneaking in beer in baggies strapped to their ankles, like stuffing your pockets with store-bought Snickers before going to the movies. It doesn't have to be this way. The Masters, the most prestigious golf event, charges only $5 for both domestic and imported beer. I know it's a gimmick, part of The Masters mystique along with pimento sandwiches for $1.50, but still it's a welcome gesture. You never lose when you treat the public fairly. When Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in Atlanta, Falcons owner Arthur Blank insisted that food vendors charge the same inside the stadium as they do at their regular restaurants. Same thing when Denver International Airport opened, fast food restaurants couldn't jack up their prices to their captive customers. Here? There needs to be a loan window outside the Cinnabon booth at Bush-Intercontinental.

Except for the Masters in Augusta, golf's majors aren't tied to a city. A major comes to a city maybe every few years or in most cases never. There's no need to ride into a city like the James Gang, rob the local bank, and high tail it out of town. Golf should be the last professional sport to stick it to fans. While the game has made strides to open its arms to lower-income youths, golf remains an elitist, extremely expensive sport for regular folk. Equipment is expensive, private courses are exclusive and country clubs are exclusionary. Public courses are less expensive but still expensive and crowded. Plus there's never been a professional sport more dangerously dominated by one person than golf. I can imagine network executives on their knees praying that Tiger Woods makes the cut and plays on weekends. Otherwise, TV ratings go straight into the toilet, you know, like whatever team Mattress Mack is betting on. (I joke because I love, and frankly a little scared.)

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