I have a confession to make …

I don’t hate the Astros. There I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Braves fan and I want them to win. But I can’t muster the same level of animosity towards the Astros as I do for say the Yankees or Dodgers. I mean, rooting for those teams is like rooting for Amazon. To have the proper fan experience, your team has to be downtrodden at least a little. Or in the words of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, “what’s a game girl, if you never lose?”

Anyway, back to the Astros. I spent my formative years in a small town in south central Louisiana, and Houston was the closest major league city. The only games I ever saw in person growing up were Astros games. They were never any good back then, but the Astrodome was just a marvel (to these young eyes anyway) and I always looked forward to our family trips to Houston. I had pennants in my bedroom and an autographed baseball signed by forgotten members of a long-ago team (can’t recall the year, but for some reason I remember Bob Aspromonte‘s signature). I even had a piggy-bank molded out of orange plastic in the shape of the stadium that came out of one of those automated machines at the ballpark. I went off to college in Atlanta at age 18 (I’m 63 now) and never went back except to visit my parents. My fandom faded, but just like I can’t hate the Saints, I can’t hate the Astros either.

Although I hated the whole over-the-top sign stealing thing, I blame management more than the players. True, there is no doubt that a couple of the players were the instigators and others jumped on board once the train was rolling. But it’s no surprise that a bunch of hyper-competitive type-A personalities that will do almost anything to get an edge pulled something like that. Once it got started, they would have needed a very strong clubhouse leader with an operational moral compass to put an end to it, and those are in short supply. That’s why management is the most culpable, because they *did* have the power to stop it, chose not to, and lost their jobs because of it. Those players will have to live with what they did, and they deserve whatever disdain falls upon them, but I don’t hate them for it.

The hell of it is that they didn’t *need* to do it. They were a legitimately great championship-caliber team with loads of talent. Not to get political, but it’s kind of like Watergate. There was no way Nixon was losing to McGovern, but they broke in to DNC headquarters anyway. Just stupid.

Anyway, I hope the Braves beat the Astros and get to hoist that trophy we’ve all been waiting 26 years for. If it doesn’t happen, I will be as disappointed as anyone. But I won’t hate the Astros for it. Of course, YMMV.

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Author: Kirk H.

Kirk H. is a long-time reader of and occasional contributor to Braves Journal who after all these years is still in possession of most of his faculties. Don't follow him on Twitter (or elsewhere, as that would be kind of creepy).

178 thoughts on “I have a confession to make …”

  1. If the Astros had only traded Joe Morgan to the Braves for Marty Martinez instead of Bob Aspromonte.

  2. Just to put things into perspective about how things have changed with Atlanta over the last month and a half. My son’s birthday is in mid September and he asked for a Braves hat. I checked at several stores in Huntsville and they were nowhere to be found. I went back to one of the same stores a few days ago and there were at least 15 different varieties and over 2550 hats in 2 different places. What a difference going to the World Series makes!

  3. That topic, yes THAT divisive topic that everyone want to write about now is the top story on on ESPN dot com currently ….. I am just ready for first pitch.

  4. Thanks, Kirk. The first baseball glove I remember owning had Bob Aspromonte’s signature on it. For that reason alone I became something of a fan of him and his team. Joe Morgan and Sonny Jackson were a young and exciting keystone combo. I was pumped when we traded for one of them—and I thought we got the better of the two. Shows what 12 year old me knew.

    Edit—I meant to add that I got over any lingering affection for the Astros several decades ago.

  5. Disagree with “it’s management’s fault.” I was and remain highly offended that the people who came up with the cheating scene and ran the cheating scheme (except for Beltran) got NO PUNISHMENT.

    So, I damn sure will dislike the Astros as long as any of the cheaters are on that squad.

  6. I don’t hate the Astros either, maybe because the Astros AA franchise was in Columbus when I was growing up. I’m more mad at MLB for not taking action against the players. I don’t even hate this incarnation of the Dodgers. At most I resent them for having so much money, but they also use it well. I did strongly dislike the 1980s/90s Dodgers because Lasorda seemed like such a jerk.

    There are only three teams I actively root against, the Yankees most of all, with the Red Sox and Mets next. It’s not even because of their players, but because of their fans’ and the media’s apparent assumption that anything that happens in New York or Boston, or anyone who plays there, is more important than anything happening, or anyone playing, anywhere else. That they have so much more money than most teams adds to it. As for other teams, the Phillies don’t seem worth having strong emotions about, I find it hard to get worked up about the Nationals now that we’re past the young-Harper-as-jerk/Strasburg hype/”Natitude!” era, and my feelings about Mattingly don’t extend to the Marlins franchise as a whole.

  7. Nice story, Kirk. I, too, do not hate the Astros having been born in Houston and went to college in Houston and still have family in Houston. My Astros were the good ones – the Jose Cruz, Joe Niekro, Nolan Ryan, Dickie Thon, Killer B Astros (it didn’t hurt that Lance Berkman went to Rice). And, of course, Joe Niekro is he of the nail file flying out the back pocket.

    But I ended up growing up in Alabama and my team for all time has been the Braves. I was also a fan of the Montgomery Rebels (another politically incorrect nickname) who tore up the Southern League as a AA team of the Tigers. The players that went through Montgomery ended up being on some pretty good Tigers teams (Trammell, Whitaker, Fidrych and Vern Ruhle who became a pretty good Astro). But my autographs ended up being career minor leaguers (like Mark Giegler, the Sean Kazmar of his time) so Aspromonte sounds pretty good to me.

    None of that makes me want to root for the Braves any less. And I’m hoping Jethro goes out there and kicks a ton of butt tonight.

  8. I ran the concession stand for the Moultrie Colt .22s during the summer of 62. Lots of kids that never made it played on that team.

  9. Houston used to be my second favorite team (and favorite AL team). My step-daughter lives in Houston, as does my aunt and cousin. And my wife and I have some dear friends there. The ‘stros were a perfect fit for me.

    But . . .

    They let me down badly with the cheating. The players deserve as much, if not more, blame for it as the coaches and FO. I’m not ready to forgive. And I’m definitely not in the mood to sing their praises—or hear their praises sung—, no matter how modestly, on the eve of a critically important game against my Braves.

  10. Reporting live from Section 316 here at Truist. Seeing my first World Series game in person on my 44th birthday. It was nice of the Braves to put a big “44” in the outfield.

  11. Oh and I have zero problems hating the Astros. I rooted for them in 2017 but never will again most likely. 2004 and 2005 still hurt a little too.

    They aren’t quite Dodgers, Yankees or Cardinals level but they aren’t far off for me.

  12. While they were run by the douchebro ¨smartest guys in the room¨ I detested everything about the Astros. Since the defenestration due to the misogyny and the trash cans I really have no reason to care one way or the other. My local minor league affiliate switched from the Rocks to the Stros this season so I will soon likely get acquainted with the next generation of the team (although I don´t see any impact MLBers on this years High A edition).

  13. Umm, they better sign that damn deal if it’s put in front of them.

  14. Kirk, lovely piece. If it’s okay, I’ll split the difference and root for you and keep hating them.

    My grandmother grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and ended her life as a rabid Mets fan; like Mac, I still have a bunch of Mets fans in my family (and some Phillies fans too, as the family fanned out from the City). I was born and raised in Atlanta, so that’s why I’ve always been a Braves fan, but I developed a soft spot for the late ’90s Cubs, thanks to the ubiquity of WGN and the fun of the 1998 Wild Card team.

    JonathanF on a couple threads back asked us to post what we were enjoying the game with, and Ububba mentioned his trademark Guinness. Tonight I’m having a Westland Peated single malt whiskey. It’s awful good.

  15. @13 and 21–our daughter is a Rice grad, class of 2004. She was there for the national champion team in 2003 The Rice Owls are the one Houston baseball team I like

  16. The Braves are and have always been my team but I admit to a soft spot for the pre-WS winning Cubs having lived there for a time after college and Boston (due to the Boston connection with the Braves.) I rooted so hard for them to win it all in 2004. Since then? Not nearly as much of a fan.

    I agree, we need 2 out of these 3. I don’t care how we get them but it would be a lot easier if we get this one tonight with a great game by Anderson. Let’s go!

  17. I love it. Pre-game. Doing the chop and taking back Hank Aaron for the Braves. And Aarons with the first pitch.

    @24 I have a Diet Sunkist and lasagna.

  18. Beautiful tribute for Henry Aaron. That had to be hard for Billye ……she knows how much he would want to be there.

  19. I’m enjoying the game with some Pearse Lyons Irish whiskey. I prefer the 7-year old, but I may switch to the 12-year old. We visited their distillery when we were in Dublin a few weeks back, so we feel some attachment. It’s quite good.

    My wife and I were just discussing how much we love Freddie Freeman. He’s her favorite Brave. She’s a smart woman.

  20. Terrible check swing call by home plate ump. Why did he even call that? He should defer to third base ump.

    Those calls are often close and difficult. That one wasn’t.

  21. Make ’em pay, Riley!

    EDIT – Frack! Still, we made him throw quite a few pitches there. Settle down,Ian.

  22. It’s surreal that our third baseman just caught a fly ball in foul territory in short right field.

  23. Soler’s was definitely a K. But I’d think he and Rosario might have some history there coming over from the AL.

  24. For posterity’s sake only, my nonBraves rooting interest was (and I guess still is) the Tigers. I loved the 1968 team.

    Coming back to the Whistlepig after I stupidly wandered away for Game 2.

  25. I just learned on the fangraphs chat that Duvall is the fastest runner on the team after Ronald. Would not have guessed it.

  26. The guy’s thrown maybe five pitches in the zone, yet they’re all swinging like their life depends on it.

  27. Championship teams have hitters able to lay off good pitches out of the zone. It doesn’t help when we have these umps, but impatience and particularly this team’s aggressiveness is hurting us.

    Also, I would have liked to see what Acuna might have done with this guys wind up if he were on 3rd.

  28. @64, Sadly enough, I can just see him with an exciting steal of home and injuring himself sliding into the catcher.

  29. Ian, way to show the hell up for the World Series. Honestly awesome.

  30. I had hoped Ian would give us real length like 7 or 8 innings. I think that’s out the window now. I’ll be happy with 6.

  31. @68 – I’m not sure he’s shown up yet. I’m sure the Astros are calling smoke and mirrors, because that’s what I’m seeing. It is unbelievable that he has done this with the way I see him pitching. I’ll take it, and I’m sure the weather has a lot to do with it, but it has been way too nerve wracking. We need some damn runs!

    EDIT – and back to our offense…1 pitch, 1 fing out. Come on, guys!!!

    EDIT 2 – 2 pitches, 2 outs.

  32. Score…some…damn…runs. Plural.

    EDIT – Another 1 pitch, 1 out. Really guys??? Of course, that would be Albies. Now with Riley, on to 3 pitches 2 outs. We’re getting better. Could you fellas not work a count? You’ve been good at it heretofore. Oy!

  33. Ugh…..we need runs.

    I would have probably let Ian go one more inning ……tremendous outing on the biggest stage.

  34. @78 I might too, but I think they’re going to go Minter/Jackson/Matzek/Smith.

    I’d sure like to see our hitters taking outside pitches to RF like TdA did earlier.

  35. Let’s make it a moot point. If we get some cooking here, he’d be out anyway.

    Or not. Anyway, I’m not sure I wanted to see that tight-rope walk a 3rd time through the order. Worst no-hitter I’ve ever seen, but gutsy. I’ll give him that. If we could just score some runs.

  36. @80 I enjoyed that tightrope because I knew anyone else will not be as good. Now I’m holding my breath.

  37. @83 – On a normal day, yes. Not tonight. And I’m not sure he was better tonight than what else we have to throw.

  38. That called ball was in the middle of the f-ing plate!?!

    Why are we facing the umps just as much as the other team? This is ridiculous!

  39. I don’t want to hear about framing or missing your spot, that was right in the middle of the zone. There won’t be a worse call all Series.

    And as I type, strike 4! Attaway AJ

  40. @93 – They were shaking it. He looked fine on the steps after he came out. Smiling and laughing even. I would too after that.

  41. I would have thought you’d use Matzek for the middle of the order in the 7th and use Jackson for the bottom of the order in the 8th. But we will see.

  42. Honest question to any pitching guys one here. Jackson’s slider is very up/down like they just mentioned on TV. So why is it not considered a curve? Is it a slider just because it’s thrown at higher speed?

  43. So, coming into this game, they were saying it’s a well-matched World Series but we hadn’t had any great games.

    This is one hell of a great game.

  44. A thought perhaps never uttered by anyone ever…a nice, calm inning by Luke Jackson and a true relief.

  45. Two pitches in the EXACT SAME SPOT. One called a ball and the very next a strike. What the hell?

    Is there no one in Manfred’s office looking at this? I mean, this isn’t a game on June 5th. It’s the damn World Series!

  46. Matzek better get that zone.. The cheaters won’t have a chance. Even the fangraphs writers are calling it an #umpshow

  47. What a performance by Matzek. I think I held my breath through the entire inning especially the Brantley AB after Siri got to 3rd. He definitely stepped it up after the hit. Just a great performance.

  48. Is it too much to ask for just one more run? I mean, I know, we’ve won some great games 1-0 (one pretty big one) but I too would feel better with a little room. Also…another amazing inning by Matzek! Just amazing!!

  49. @110. Rosario should have taken charge and gone full speed to grab that, but Dansby being that deep in left field is probably more unhelpful than anything else. I think Rosario either came in slow to avoid a collision, and/or because he thought Dansby was going to catch it.

  50. I asked and received. I’m not going to do it again so I’ll let you good folks. Just 3 more outs…

  51. @119 The entire team has struggled since game 1, except maybe Travis and Soler. Freddie has been awful.

  52. Wait, Duvall is out of the game instead of Rosario or Soler?

    Edit: No, he’s in right field and Buck didn’t mention that.

  53. Joe Simpson was lobbying for Matzek to stay in for the 9th, given the gas he was throwing in the 8th, but Snit went by-the-book.

  54. Bless his soul. Smith got it done.

    They have GOT to go with Wright tomorrow. Let’s win the next two.

    If we can just get Soroka back and well, we will have a big three again.

  55. Nice!

    Isn’t it something that the Astros don’t control the cameras here and forgot how to hit tonight?

  56. If the shift takes away 10 hits no one says a word because you don’t notice it. If someone gets 1 hit against the shift, everyone is outraged. The shift works.

    The bats need to wake up or the Braves are in trouble. You won’t hold the Astros to under 2 runs very often.

  57. I’m not sure if I want Wright to pitch tomorrow or not. I don’t doubt that he can pitch, it’s just putting consecutive good outings together that has been his problem. Btw, so far I have no idea who would be the MVP if we went on to win it all. So far I don’t think anyone has put together 2 great games.

  58. @153 – I agree with you on the shift. On your other point, I’m not really worried about our bats. As I said, I just don’t want us to get in a slugfest with Houston – I think we lose 9 times out of 10. My concern is 4 innings for the bullpen tonight and the next two games supposedly being bullpen games. We need a few pitchers to go at least 3 to 4 strong innings in the next two games.

  59. The shift works, until it doesn’t. It’s when you shift and how, obviously. Did not kill us tonight, but rethink and don’t overthink.

    As far as MVP, it’s too early to tell and I agree no one has put themselves ahead. I might go outside of the box and say our starters so far. Not a one of them had a lights out game (despite the no hit innings tonight) but every one them kept us in the game (one with a broken fibula, one that had to hold on after 5 runs in 2 innings and one that did not have his best stuff on a night like this but most certainly found a way to battle through it.)

    I’m still going to counsel patience to these hitters. While our guy was battling, theirs was giving us every opportunity to take advantage and we allowed it by swinging at everything. It’s still a long series and our fellas need to be more patient. This could have been a runaway the way it started. But we kept swinging into outs.

    That said, a win is a win and I love it. Need just two more.

  60. If Wright is awful tomorrow, then the B-Squad finishes the game and the good bullpen can pitch Sunday.

    If Wright is great, the Braves are up 3-1 and I don’t have a problem with that.

  61. I’ll be there tomorrow for whatever the hell we decide to do with the rotation. Let’s get those bats going.

  62. I’m sticking with Whistlepig until my blood is 15% Whistlepig.

    And yeah… hearing Matzek say “Night shift’s ready” in the postgame interview was downright inspiring.

    By they way, this game was the same as the first game: 6-2. It just happened in a different column.

  63. Greetings from ATL…

    Great night at the stadium. Headed back for Sunday night’s game… hopefully, we’ll have another win in hand to go up 3-1 & make a clinch possible. Go Braves

    In between, there’s a pretty big SEC game to watch tomorrow… Go Dogs

    Yeah, I grew up down there, too. Saw plenty of Astros Double-A action as well. Astros were always my 2nd-fave NL team. These days, they just play the heel role… still a helluva team, though.

  64. Agree with @157: this is the perfect time to throw Wright. Everyone important gets a rest tomorrow if he’s awful. But if he’s good, then you probably ride him for 4, maybe even 5 innings. They’re throwing Greinke who doesn’t scare anyone right now. And if we have a chance to win it, throw your big 4 relievers.

    It really sucks that Smyly can’t be more of a weapon. He can’t give you multi inning, and he also can’t give you one inning.

  65. @159, That’s a wonderful quote. Too bad the theme song to the movie “Night Shift” doesn’t make instantly recognizable walkup (or warmup?) music.

    Anderson must hold a bunch of rookie postseason pitching records. Doesn’t seem likely that too many rookie pitchers even have 8 postseason starts.

  66. IIRC, a graphic last night showed that Ian’s 8 starts in the postseason is 3 more than the next on the list, Luis Valdez.
    That one is sort of a fluke, given that he’s had two postseasons as a rookie. But more impressively, his ERA after 8 postseason starts is second best all time.

  67. A few thoughts

    Last night’s highlight reel made for excellent viewing

    I can’t get overly concerned about the pitching choices for the next two days – at this stage, Snit has made more good decisions than not this post season and is entitled to run Plan A (whatever it is) until there is a need to move to Plan B. I will say that if the Braves win Game 4 I wouldn’t be surprised if Snit threw the kitchen sink in Game 5 and I’d expect to see Max at some point

    We’re also due for an upturn in hitting to offset any pitching deficiency

    And finally, for now. I spent a year on the West coast of Scotland working on a system implementation mainly as a result of the Millenium Bug for those with long memories. Just turned 30, I was in a “team” with 3 other guys a generation older who took great pleasure in working their way through the hotel’s single malt selection on a nightly basis. Lots of familiar names in this thread. I seem to recall they were particularly fond of Talisker. Philistine as I am, I’ve never acquired the taste and stuck to the local ale instead…

    It may be time for some musical selections in the next thread

  68. On the bottles, Talisker proudly quotes Robert Louis Stevenson calling it the “King o’ Drams,” and it’s awfully good. My favorite distillery of all would have to be Springbank, though.

  69. I haven’t updated the cWPA chart in a while. https://stathead.com/tiny/tupqT While Rosario still leads handily, Riley’s go-ahead double last night was close, and Matzek-Bradley last night with a runner on third was really big. In fact, looking the list over, I’m surprised Matzek’s strikeout of Mookie Betts isn’t bigger, but that’s the way cWPA works. It was only the NLCS, and only the tying run was in scoring position, and it was early in the game. cWPA has no respect for psychology.

  70. By the way, the new Mastodon album just came out yesterday, and it’s great.

  71. @176 – I saw that too this morning. I know we were all of some differing opinions about letting Ian go one more inning, but I doubt seriously there was a one of us that would have let him (or wanted him) go for the no hitter. But it’s nice for ESPN to pay attention for once (even in their own way.) I guess they sort of have to since we made them.

    EDIT – I’m sure a few of those writers are still considering LA as WS favorites. ;)

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