Is tonight the biggest game in Citi Field history?

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David Lennon of Newsday tweeted this a little while ago:

I sort of chuckled at first but then I thought about it some and . . . I think he’s right?

It’s the Sunday night game. A prime time matchup between the Mets and the first place Nationals. If the Mets win they’re tied for the division lead. And, it’s worth noting, they cap a big three days what with the Cespedes acquisition on Friday, Wilmer Flores’ big walkoff homer that night and last night’s Lucas Duda-powered win. A sweep of the visiting Nats and a claim on first place is pretty huge, yes?

Especially when you consider that since moving into Citi Field for the 2009 season, the Mets have finished in fourth place four seasons, third place one season and second place last year, albeit 17 games back. They’ve basically never challenged since moving into that ballpark. They never once led the division in 2011, 2013 or 2014. They last led in 2012 on April 9. In 2010 they led on April 30. They led as late as May 15 in 2009. Meaningful games in the standings have been nearly non-existent.

Which isn’t to say that there haven’t been big moments in Citi Field. But they were mostly a function of happenstance, not a big game buildup that led people to arrive at the ballpark with feeling that it was a big deal. Johan Santana’s no hitter comes to mind. Probably the single greatest highlight in that park, but not one that anyone knew would happen beforehand.

So, at least in terms of anticipation, this has to be the biggest, I reckon. Meaningful baseball in August in Queens. The Mets, who are so often the butt of jokes, challenging for first place against a team everyone basically handed the division title back in March. Not bad, eh?

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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