It’s hard to remember a time when someone running out onto the playing field at a sporting event would not be chased, pummeled or tased. Or that we, as a society, wouldn’t find it uncomfortable and problematic for someone to run up to another person and give them an unsolicited kiss. But the 1960s-80s were a very different time and place. A time and place that could produce Morganna, the Kissing Bandit.
People my age and older remember her. For those who don’t, all you really need to know is that she was an extremely buxom woman who would run out onto baseball diamonds — later in life it was more of a shuffle than a run — and plant one on various ballplayers. Pete Rose was her first target. Many others would follow. As would appearances on late night talk shows, “celebrity” panel game shows and in various places around our then comparatively barren pop culture landscape.
If you want to know more about her, go watch this mini-documentary about her. Which I found really interesting, even if I liked it somewhat better when I knew absolutely nothing about her apart from her strange, random appearances at now mostly-demolished baseball stadiums back in the era of big hair and plastic grass.
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.