Welcome back to another season of baseball, which means another season of enemies. They rotate through a few times a week, each new series producing another round of bile, contempt, envy, bad memories, happy remembrances of victories past, and a desire for conquest. It’s a lot like love, only hopefully nothing like that at all.
We start with the team that’s the easiest in all of baseball to hate: the Houston Astros.
How They’ve Been Doing
Well, the season hasn’t even started yet, so I guess we’ll have to look back to what the Astros did last year. They did fine, I guess. They had a good year. I mean, the Sox overcame devastating injuries and a sickly somnambulist to finish .500, which is really impressive, more so than a good team doing well. The Astros did fine. They were fine.
OK, so they won a World Series, and that was pretty good for them. They managed to get some of the cheating monkey off their back (more on that below), and I think it is rad that Dusty Baker got a World Series. Remember when Dusty’s kid (yeah, now a prominent Nationals prospect) nearly got merced running out to home base in the 2002 World Series? This is a better outcome.
Since then, they’ve lost the ageless Justin Verlander and have gained José Abreu, who you might remember as the heart and soul of the White Sox. So they’re fine. Overall, they are a World Series favorite, again.
So, as of this writing (Monday night), the Astros rotation for the four-game set was TBD after Opening Day. They’ve lost Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr. is dealing with some forearm stuff and will miss the beginning of the series. So Houston probably runs with Cristian Javier, who looks like a stud, along with José Urquidy and Luis Garcia. It’s a bit of a thinner rotation than we’re used to, but with one of their top prospects in Hunter Brown as a potential starter, they’ll probably win 138 games. God.
March 30: Opening Day
Sox: Dylan Cease. The Ace! Making his first Opening Day start, Dylan is ready to begin a Cy Young campaign. He struggled a bit in the preseason, but seems to have righted the ship. His maintaining last year’s pace is a key to this season’s success.
Astros: LHP Framber Valdez. He’s good.
Sox: Lance Lynn. The Big Bastard! Lynn had a pretty injury-hampered season in 2022, but showed some flashes of the snarl and vulgar fire that made his 2021 such a joy. His rebounding into form is a key to this season’s success.
Astros: TBD. This is going to be determined.
Sox: Lucas Giolito. The Former Ace! Struggling with the lingering impacts of COVID, this White Sox favorite had a frustrating year, though before his illness his numbers were pretty good. His rebounding into form is a key to this season’s success.
Astros: TBD. There are people responsible for determining who, exactly, this will be.
Sox: Some guy. The guy who got rocked by the Cubs on Monday. His being bad enough to be cut early on is a key to this season’s success and enjoyment.
Astros: TBD. In terms of determination, this is forthcoming.
Why Do We Hate Houston?
Houston was a sleepy malarial backwater made enormous and centerless by the oil boom, and grew without any rhyme or reason or decent public transportation. It lacks the gaudy weirdness of Dallas, robbing it of any kitsch value. It maintains a sense of personality by being the only city to allow the storage of deadly chemicals in styrofoam containers, which they put in flood zones in poor neighborhoods. The last cool and good person to play for Houston in any sport was Hakeem Olajuwon, and he only won championships because Michael Jordan got bored.
Why Do We Hate The Astros?
There are two reasons, intertwined. The first is that they win. It’s that they beat us. It’s that in 2021 we thought we were establishing a rivalry with them, that our swagger would knock them over. We wanted to punch them in the mouth, and they held our heads with one hand while we flailed away. We want to be rivals, and they can barely see us. That’s the worst feeling in sports.
But why did we want to beat them so badly? It is of course tied to the cheating scandal, but for me, it’s not even that. It’s not even them getting away with it. It’s that they used the vitriol against them as a swaggering rally point.
The single grossest aspect of contemporary American life is how shamelessness wins. When someone does something bad, they benefit not from reflection and contrition, but from turning their lack of remorse into a Brand and a lifestyle. You can be caught red-handed stealing the Bread Crust Fund from the last orphanage in town and your fans will crow that you’re living rent-free in the head of haters.
The Astros essentially posted through it. They turned shamelessness into a city-wide antagonism toward humility. They moved right from scandal to post-scandal without a breath or a redemption arc. They followed the path of every shitheel politician, C-list celebrity, internet troll, and accused abuser: They made themselves both the aggrieved victims and the “I’m laughing at you” victors. And they keep winning. And if that’s not a sign of the times, I don’t know what is.
Why White Sox Twitter Hates The Astros
Let’s hear it from the fans!
The Cheating/General Vibe
Brandon Taubman taunting female reporters about abuser Roberto Osuna is one of the most hateable things a team employee has done in my lifetime. Also, their stadium is dumb.— ACAB includes Paul Vallas (@TheTyronePalmer) March 27, 2023
accused stephanie apstein of lying about taubman, players lied to opposing pitchers that they were tipping and made adjustments they didn’t need to, the racist gesture to darvish in 2017— Catherine Tinker (@catherinetinker) March 27, 2023
It’s not so much I hate the Astros, I think it the fact that MLB chooses to ignore the cheating scandal and constantly push a “dynasty” dialogue as if it never happened— Al (@baseballgalal) March 27, 2023
It’s no secret by now that they cheated their way to a title. But it’s the smugness with which they carry themselves even today. It’s just gross.— Ryiin (@rfoto) March 27, 2023
Why wouldn't someone hate the Astros?— Not Larry (@iamnotlarry_) March 27, 2023
I hate the Astros that were there during the cheating because they don’t feel sorry for anything they did. pic.twitter.com/4Qkja6t5Vm— Drew Bogs (@DrewBogs623) March 27, 2023
Outside of the fact that they’re smug cheaters who were never punished for cheating and stole Jose Abreu from us and stole a playoff series from us, their stadium sucks. It’s an office park with dumb outfield dimensions.— Adam Kaplan - Sr Contributor for Sox On 35th (@MillennialSox) March 27, 2023
Because they almost killed JR Richard by not listening to him in the weeks before his stroke.— Asinwreck (@asinwreck) March 27, 2023
(I can hold a grudge for a few decades.)
Because when the Sox had a WS scandal, none of them ever played major league ball again, setting the franchise back decades— It Jon (@JonTracey4) March 27, 2023
I still hate Lance fucking Berkman.— Brian S (@MagnificentStan) March 27, 2023
Because they should have stayed in the National League!— Shane Kelly (@AzureJazzMan) March 27, 2023
The Stupid Stadium
the goddam train— maryjblond (@maryJblond) March 27, 2023
I submitted mine, but another one I thought of was their infield dirt is really watered down. https://t.co/Qj7tO7naik— (3) Father Sean (@sean_janko) March 27, 2023
Because they could be wearing these unis everyday, and yet... pic.twitter.com/rPUjHmgvTB— White Sox Twitt3r (Is Baby Hippo) (@SoxTwitt3r) March 27, 2023