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Know Your Enemy: Houston Astros

A massive roundup of reasons to hate our Betters

José Abreu — in an Astros uniform.
| Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

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.

World Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros - Game Six
This is fine, who cares, it is in the past!
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

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.

The Series

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.

New York Mets v Houston Astros
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

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.

March 31

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.

April 1

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.

April 2

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

Decades-Old Grudges

The Stupid Stadium

Pure Aesthetics

Today in White Sox History

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White Sox Minors

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Sharing Sox

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