As you might have heard, there’s been something of a dumpster fire billowing around our division rivals in Houston. What started as an honest scoundrel’s attempt to tilt the system in their favor like Han Solo before he cleaned up his act and found a good cause has turned into an “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” style circular economy of fail. Except this time the meatheads are actual professional athletes and there’s a tone-deaf billionaire involved (which seems to be another epidemic of its own but I digress).
In the span of a few days, the Astros have managed to bring even more hate and discontent down upon themselves than most of us thought possible. It was bad enough that they started with a completely insincere and pathetic “apology” press conference. Then, when MLB players, some of whom were directly impacted by their corruption speak out with justifiable anger, they have the audacity to act like victims and even get offended that their opponents would question their supremely questionable integrity (See: Correa, Carlos, Galactic Purveyor Extraordinaire of Crocodile Tears.) Was what Bellinger and Bauer, whom I half the time can’t stand and half the time find myself nodding along with, had to say harsh? Yes, but none of it was without merit. The Astros cheated the entire league for at least one season, and possibly more depending what rumors you believe. They did cost their hardworking peers wins and awards, and probably roster spots and money in some cases. If that’s not fucked up and worthy of anger, I don’t know what is. At least one new Astro, Dusty Baker, Manager of Toxic Cleanup on Aisle Seven, seems to realize that the dumbasses he has to shepherd through this ring of fire are making his job impossible and digging their own graves, calling for MLB to put a stop to “premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about.” Dusty’s right to be worried even if his faux players aren’t.
Which leads me to my main point: The Angels are the first team in MLB to face the Astros on the diamond since this dumpster fire started. We play them 7 times in the first 10 games of the season, in fact. The league will be watching what our players do and that presents the Angels with an opportunity to set the tone.
The way I see it, there are three options:
Option 1: Old-School Hardball
This is pretty self-explanatory and also where I think this situation is headed. Beanballs to the worst offenders in the scandal itself and the loudest asshats since, like Correa. Spikes on the basebaths, benches clearing, the whole deal. There’s a lot of justified rage burning around the league right now and the Astros are stoking it with their self-righteousness and brazen hypocrisy. All it’s going to take is one Correa comment to an Aaron Judge or a bat being carried 45 feet by the Archdouhce of Astrosia himself, Alex Bregman to start something. Some teams, including the Angels, may not even wait for that and want to plan something on their own. The umpires will try to control it, but there will be ways around. Your starter can send the last pitch of his day into Altuve’s ribs in the 7th, then take the five days he was gonna have off anyway. A middle reliever or opener can drill somebody once he’s got two outs in an otherwise clean inning. It’s gonna get interesting.
Option 2: The Cold Shoulder/Mental Game
This is basically a middle option. No displays of friendship on the field, active chirping toward touchy pitchers like Verlander when you’re on the basepaths, and so on. Maybe a few fights break out, but it’s more about the psychological impact of being hated by your peers, who you’re gonna have to play with after free agency or a trade unless you’ve already gotten that big contract. Opposing fans will help here like they will in all scenarios, but the real impact comes when other players snub them. It would be great to see no Astros make the ASG, and any that do sitting by themselves in the AL dugout the whole time.
Option 3: Taking the High Road
You could also call this “turning the other cheek.” The Angels and other teams don’t do anything but business as usual against the Astros, leaving retribution to what’s already been meted out by MLB and any more that might come from future revelations. Personally, I think this will be the final phase of the process once the rest of the league has gotten it’s anger out, but not something we’ll see right away. Call it a hunch from having been in a few environments with a lot of macho dudes where loyalty and putting in your fair share to the group effort was an unspoken expectation, but I could be wrong.
My preferences and predictions are pretty obvious from what I wrote above, but I’m curious what the rest of you think. What say you, Crashers? What do you want Mike Trout and company to do? What do you think the league will do? Share your thoughts below.