Do not squeeze Roy Halladay

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Home plate umpire Marty Foster had a tight strike zone in last night’s Phillies-Giants game. It peeved Roy Halladay a good bit. Then in the fifth inning he walked Aubrey Huff on five pitches, and ball four was one Halladay did not believe was a ball (and he was right). Then, according to Matt Gelb’s report, this happened:

Roy Halladay snatched the throw from Carlos Ruiz and didn’t flinch. His eyes were focused on Foster, the home-plate umpire, in the fifth inning of Monday’s 5-2 Phillies win over the San Francisco Giants.

Foster noticed the death stare. He said something to Halladay, who barked back. Then Halladay pointed to make his anger totally clear.

That normally kills a pitcher. But when you’re Roy Halladay, you’re the one who does the intimidating. Next batter Brandon Belt: a five-pitch strikeout with strike three looking. And strike three was nowhere near the strike zone, but the ump gave it to Halladay anyway.

After the game Halladay said that he wasn’t yelling at Foster, he was simply having a miscommunication with his catcher.

Sure he was.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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