April 15 has a lot going on — it’s tax day and Patriot’s Day — but in baseball it’s most significant because it’s Jackie Robinson Day. Sixty-six years ago today Robinson became the first black man to play major league baseball in the modern era.
Players will wear 42 on their jerseys today. Just about every columnist you read will have a remembrance or retrospective of the man today. Even if you’ve read a lot of these and know the general story, you should take some extra time to reacquaint yourself with it again. Or, maybe even better, go check out Jackie’s Baseball-Reference.com page. I sometimes feel like we spend so much time on talking about Robinson’s breaking the color barrier that we forget he was a hell of a baseball player and would have been Hall of Fame worthy regardless.
Also worth checking out are some things about Robinson’s post-playing career, which includes a lot of important work in the civil rights movement and which is often overlooked. Here’s a nice start to that.
Robinson was a complex and interesting man and that often gets lost as so much time is spent on the well-known and well-told partys of his story.
Happy 42 Day.
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.