Now that our beloved Pittsburgh Pirates have been knocked out of postseason play after just one game, many of you probably feel like me, essentially a man without a country as the remaining eight teams keep playing. But just because our favorite team is no longer in the running, that doesn’t mean we should give up watching baseball, now does it?
In the dark years of the losing streak, I would always pick a team to get behind for the October run. Typically I jump on the Detroit Tigers bandwagon because of the ties they had to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Jim Leyland, Andy Van Slyke, Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon. Also, it didn’t hurt that they had the greatest hitter on the planet (at least at the time). But they struggled this year and didn’t even make it to the playoffs, so I need to find a new team to support for the next month.
When I was in junior high, along with supporting the Pirates I was a big fan of the Houston Astros. Jeff Bagwell is one of my favorite players at the time. To me, he quietly went out there every day and did his job better than most first basemen in that era. He was a solid defender and added tremendous power with the bat. Plus, he employed a batting stance that would make any high school coach shake their head. So now with the Pirates unfortunately preparing for a few months of golfing and hunting, I will be rooting for the Houston Astros the rest of the way. Allow me to give you five reasons why the Astros are the team to root for the rest of the way!
1) There is no way I am rooting for a National League Central team
I absolutely will not be supporting one of the remaining NL Central teams. I spent a lot of time at work trying to come up with a way that both the Cardinals and Cubs can lose in the divisional round and sadly I think one of them will advance. The only way I want to see one of those clubs advance to the World Series if they are going to lose. Especially the Cubs, I can’t wait to see what excuse their fanbase uses this year if they fail to be champions for the first time since before World War I. Will it be another curse because one of their fans is mad that a barnyard animal can’t be brought into the stands? Will one of their fans again take a foul ball away from an approaching outfielder? STAY TUNED!
2) Ditto for the remaining National League teams
The Dodgers and Mets both have one thing in common with the Cubs and Cardinals: a checkbook that can solve any of their problems. But see the funny thing is, the highest payroll doesn’t always equate to a World Series win. In fact, rarely does the team with the highest payroll win. So I don’t want to see either of those teams hoisting the trophy at the end of the postseason. It’s easy to say “we need a shortstop, give player X whatever he wants to sign here”. I like that the Astros have gone about assembling their team in a similar way to the Pirates.
3) The Astros are young and fun
The Astros are just two years removed from an atrocious 51-111 record. So in two years they have been able to turn things around quickly through smart drafting and savvy pickups. Players like George Springer and Carlos Correa are cornerstones for this franchise moving forward. Springer is just 26 years old and Correa is only 21. In fact, Correa had his first beer ever after the Astros beat the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game! He said he didn’t like the taste of it, but I’ll look past that for the moment. To be fair, it was probably something like Bud Light so hopefully he gets a chance to try something…better. This talk of beer is getting me off topic…
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4) Dallas Keuchel and his beard
I didn’t mention Keuchel above because he deserves his own entry. Keuchel was a mediocre pitcher in 2012 and 2013 before showing promise in 2014 and then turning into a full blown ace in 2015. He is a pitcher that relies on location and mixing up his pitches because he does not have overpowering stuff with any of them. He is a great example that even if you are not throwing 95 MPH you can still be very successful at this level as long as you have good command, something a certain left hander in the Pirates organization who is from New Hampshire needs to figure out. Plus, he has some of the greatest facial hair in the big leagues. Keuchel’s beard can probably grow a better beard than the one Jake Arrieta is currently sporting.
5) The Astros used to be division opponents of the Pirates
Once Bud Selig realized that it was unfair to have six teams in the NL Central and only four in the AL West (it’s amazing that it took so long TO REALIZE MORE TEAMS IN ONE DIVISION ISN’T FAIR), the decision was made to jettison the Astros to the American League (I was really hoping the Brewers would be returned to where they came from, but alas) to balance the leagues at 15 teams a piece. It’s like that friend who moved away and you don’t get to see very often, but you hope things are going well in their new location.
So there you go, five reasons you should root for the Houston Astros. They are a young, fun team who was not projected to be competitive in 2015. They should be a tough opponent in the remaining games in their series against the Royals. But then again, I could be wrong and they could be knocked out before the league championship series. If that’s the case, well, you’re on your own until I decided what bandwagon I am jumping on for the next round.