Astros, trying to #TakeItBack
Last week, I profiled the Nationals, highlighting the delightful quirkiness of the current team while also outlining some historical context (with the help of @SDRedBull8 and @JohnConniff).
This past Sunday, I spent most of the day working on a similar story about the Astros, with an overall positive spin on their rebuild efforts and José Altuve’s undeniable likeability factor. I also had great assistance from Billy Lybarger ( @LybargerBrewery), a fourth generation native San Diegan, now living in the Houston area.
On Monday, this happened, and all of baseball once again found itself in the crosshairs of how to respond to domestic violence (DV) issues.
The Astros organization responded by issuing a statement strongly condemning Apstein’s post and backing their executive.
This incident circles back to Astros closer Roberto Osuna. MLB suspended Osuna for 75 games last year after he was charged with assaulting the mother of his child in Toronto (the charges were dropped after the woman declined to testify).
For more context on this incident with the female reporters and the Astros’ troubled response to it, I recommend Jeff Passan’s article written for ESPN. https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/27901119/the-houston-astros-denial-just-made-bad-situation-worse
In light of this controversy, I asked my editors at The Kept Faith whether I should can my article on the Astros entirely. They suggested I address the incident but left the decision on publishing up to me.
I’ve decided to give Billy the floor about what happened, and then I’ll move on to other topics because I believe that not all of Houston or its team should be painted with the same brush.
Here’s what Billy wrote to me last night when the story broke:
“I’m incensed by the incident, to be perfectly honest.
I was not happy about them acquiring Osuna. I understand second chances and all, but they flatly state they have a zero tolerance policy regarding DV, yet brought him in anyway.
Now they are trying to paint this latest occurrence like the AGM was defending the player when several news reporters are refuting that account.
It is obvious they do not believe women, nor do they seem to care.”
Now, back to the good ol’ days of the LCS
The Astros-Yankees series played out just like David-Goliath.
The little guy won.
Jose Altuve belted a dramatic walk-off homerun in the 9th inning of Game 6 to send the Astros to the WS for the second time in three years.
Altuve is the heart and soul of this Astros team, no question.
He endeared himself to baseball fans everywhere two years ago describing his feelings for the team’s pitching ace.
Ironically, Altuve is the lone guy on the roster from when the Astros started their rebuild after losing 111 games in 2013. He endured three straight 100+ loss seasons before the team started turning things around.
Clearly, the Astros are doing something right.
Here’s what Billy had to say about the the Astros’ rebuild.
“I believe the credit goes to both owner Jim Crane, and GM Jeff Luhnow. Both came aboard in ‘11 and Crane has consistently provided the resources Luhnow needs and Luhnow has completely overhauled the Astros in the image of what he did in St Louis.
Luhnow was first in charge of player development and then player procurement. He brought a corporate best practice mindset to baseball as he had no front office experience before his hiring by the Cardinals. He implemented data driven decision making and applied it everywhere he managed. He brought these systems to the Astros, and improved them as well. “
But is it sustainable, Billy?
“Not only do I think his rebuild of the Astros is sustainable, I think it is now the best practice for other front offices to try and copy.”
Billy, what was it like when the Astros clinched the pennant?
“Social media and the local news just exploded in joy.“
Here’s a short video that captured the explosion (from the perspectives of both Astros and Yankees fans). Just imagine what some of our talented videographers from #PadresTwitter would do if our team busted out on the big stage.
Back in the day …
The current version of the Astros bears little resemblance to the franchise that began in the 1960s, built the “Eighth Wonder of the World” known as the Astrodome, was responsible for baseball first being played on artificial grass, and whose mid-1970s uniforms were widely ridiculed at the time (but now seem quite drippy, imo).
A brand new day …
The Astros have played in Minute Maid Park since 2000. When the roof is open, the Houston skyline provides a majestic backdrop.
Billy’s take on Minute Maid Park:
“Minute Maid is a nice park with great sight lines and seating that offers close to the field feeling. It has some contrived features … like the train pulling oranges that look like pumpkins.”
So, where does baseball stand in the scheme of things for Texans, Billy?
“Football will always rule in Texas.”
That said, Astros fans did not take kindly to this tweet from the Nats.
Controversies aside, I’m thinking that these two teams have lined up really well for an exciting World Series.
And, I’m hoping that it will also include many “this could be us” moments for Padres fans.
Enjoy the series, everyone!