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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Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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