There’s been plenty to distract us this year. But the Astros aren’t getting off that easy.
Try as they might to sweep it under the rug, none of us have forgotten about Houston’s sign-stealing scandal. The Astros are free to flaunt their prized “piece of metal” (as commissioner Rob Manfred so eloquently called it) in the stadium display case at Minute Maid Park, but we all know their World Series trophy is tainted.
MLB laid down the hammer on Houston, but even the fines and suspensions levied didn’t feel like enough. The players, with the notable exception of Carlos Beltran (whose Mets managerial tenure lasted all of a few days), largely got off scot-free. That includes Jose Altuve, who pulled the wool over our eyes with his cockamamie excuses, claiming he was concealing a tattoo and not the buzzer many suspected the disgraced second baseman of hiding under his uniform last fall.
There’s not a lot the league can do at this point after investigating and subsequently punishing the Astros for compromising the sport’s integrity. But Astros haters can still troll the living hell out of them as fans did Friday by flying a “Houston Asterisks” banner over the Oakland Coliseum. Have a look.
Apparently this well-coordinated display was masterminded by A’s season-ticket holder Jon Wilson who, with the help of a GoFundMe campaign, rented a plane to fly over the team’s home park two hours before first pitch Friday night. “When the Astros joined the AL West, they started getting good by buying up talent and eventually cheating. And the A’s were second place because of the Astros,” Wilson told Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News. “I’m frustrated that the Astros got lucky that no fans would be in attendance a year after they were found to be involved in the worst cheating scandal in baseball history.”
Wilson isn’t the only one with Astros venom coursing through his veins. Loose cannon Joe Kelly went maverick when the Dodgers visited Houston last week, brushing back Alex Bregman while also saving some chin music for Carlos Correa (who he taunted relentlessly on his way to the dugout). That earned Kelly an eight-game suspension but also plenty of new fans with many applauding the reliever’s methods.
The vitriol may be getting to Houston as the Astros haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders this year, underwhelming with an even 6-6 record through 12 games. With 24 road games left on Houston’s 2020 calendar, opposing fans will have plenty more opportunities to troll the reigning AL Champs.