The Astros are leaning into the role of villain

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You absolutely knew this was going to happen.

After a two-month firestorm in which the extent of their cheating operation was revealed, and after a week of players around the league voicing their displeasure at both the Astros and at Major League Baseball for not punishing them in a manner they deem sufficient, the Astros are pushing back. From the Washington Post, here’s Josh Reddick:

“At some point, you have to move on and not give a s—. We’re going to go out there and win and shut everybody up.”

And here’s Lance McCullers:

“[The teams talking trash are] going to have to play us. Except for the guys who are popping off the most . . .”

That was a direct shot at the Dodgers, who are not on the Astros’ schedule and whose players — notably Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger — have been among the most vocal critics of the Astros. Probably because the Dodgers were the team the 2017 Astros beat in the World Series, at least in part by cheating.

More McCullers:

“. . . Those guys aren’t going to have to face us, which is maybe why they feel like they can speak like that. But we’re moving on. That’s not what people may want to hear, but we stood here as men and we addressed [the scandal] . . . We’re just looking forward to playing baseball again.”

Do you think they “addressed the scandal?” Most don’t. At least most who aren’t members of the Houston Astros or fans of the team. I suppose McCullers can think anything he wants about it, of course.

Anyway, I fully expect this trend in which Astros players increasingly assume the role of the victim — citing everyone’s anger at them for cheating as a motivational factor and using criticism as bulletin board material — to continue as spring training moves on.

All that’ll be left at that point will be a straight-faced article from a friendly media source talking about how they’ve “overcome adversity.”