Remember that story in Sports Illustrated a couple of weeks ago about the Astros’ being the “2017 World Series Champs?” Well, that was an on-paper thing. Baseball has this habit, however, of not playing out on paper. And the biggest off-paper thing are pitcher injuries. Like this:
That’s some seriously bad news for both Aiken and the Astros.
Bad news for Aiken in that he had agreed to a $6.5 million bonus with Houston, and now that looks to be in jeopardy.
Bad news for the Astros in that he’s the third straight number one overall pick for the Astros and the third straight to experience a bump in the road. They selected shortstop Carlos Correa first overall in 2012 and pitcher Mark Appel last year. Correa fractured his leg last month and is out for the season. Appel has struggled in the low level minors and has recently had a bout with thumb problems.
You can draft perfectly and develop perfectly, but sometimes the fates don’t want to comply.
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.