Counting the Astros Ls and the Phillies celebrations

Well, we believe in exit velocity, bat flips, launch angles, stealing home, the hanging curveball, Big League Chew, sausage races, and that unwritten rules of any kind are self-indulgent, overrated crap. We believe Greg Maddux was an actual wizard. We believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment protecting minor league baseball and that pitch framing is both an art and a science. We believe in the sweet spot, making WARP not war, letting your closer chase a two-inning save, and we believe love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.

Welcome to The Moonshot.

Running diary of World Series Game 3 from the streets of Philadelphia

I stumble my way past Oscar’s Tavern down Sansom, peeking in the door amid the chaos. A middle-aged man lies prone on the sticky floor, cradling a carburetor and cooing. Three people at the counter are inventing some kind of new hi-five where you kiss each other. It is 10:42 AM.

12:15 PM: Picture-perfect roast pork sandwich at DiNic’s. Like Lance McCullers, I tip.

2:44 PM: Midday coffee break. I ask the barista how she thinks tonight’s game will go. She says the Eagles are unstoppable, will probably reach 8-0. I tell her I meant the Phillies. She says Jalen Hurts can’t be contained. Man behind me taps my shoulder, says there’s been a misunderstanding, then talks about the Eagles for 18 minutes anyway.

4:36 PM: Revisit Oscar’s to get a good seat: in front of the single, working television. Order a Miller Lite. Man sits down next to me, orders “One of Those Margaritas With a Corona Tipped in it, Except it’s a Small Flask of Gin in a Water Bottle”

6:12 PM: Dinner. My wings from the back kitchen are immaculate. That guy’s still hugging that carburetor.

7:40 PM: FOX pregame shows Derek Jeter. Whole bar boos. Someone shouts that he’s from New Jersey. Whole bar goes, “Which part?” Someone says, “I’ll Wikipedia it.” Whole bar boos the concept of online literacy.

8:04 PM: Nick Castellanos sprawls out and dives to record the first out of the game. Pandemonium. Bartender offers me a “Free Out Shot,” a free shot for every out recorded.

8:22 PM: 2-0, Phillies. Bryce Harper launches a hanging curve into the right-field seats. My chair is stolen out from under me and replaced by a cactus. I yelp, then realize the cactus is full of well whiskey. Thanks.

8:42 PM: 3-0, then 4-0, as Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh homer. Nobody is seated. Everyone is squealing. There’s a man atop the ceiling fan dribbling vodka on its blades so the liquor can spit around the room. Someone in a sultan’s outfit is yelling, “Who’s ready for some reggae?!” The guy on Wikipedia shouts out, “It was Pequannock Township apparently?”

9:26 PM: Still 4-0. A man with a backpack full of hot sausage links is asking if I want to “invent a Burning Man but, like, for guys who are chill”. The game is secondary now.

9:48 PM: Tertiary. The game is now tertiary. Turns out it was my carburetor, and that guy spent the entire day picking my car apart.

10:53 PM: It’s 7-0 and the game has long ago been decided, but don’t tell that to the patrons! No, seriously, do not tell them, every time you say a sentence they collectively hiss like possums.

11:02 PM: I slip outside to grab an Uber, writhing past a gaggle of floor hands reaching out to grip my ankles. As I sprint out the door, I catch two cops de-greasing the poles. “It’s more fun witout da grease,” says one with black teeth who’s definitely been eating the grease.

11:18 PM: I am home. I am safe. I will worry about my car tomorrow. Like Lance McCullers, I have only myself to blame.

— Adam Weinrib

The latest episode of The Baseball Insiders

Would the Astros winning the World Series change their “cheating” legacy?

Sadly … no! We wish it would! As a Yankees fan, I can tell you I’m dying for this to end. But the Astros (and their fans) simply won’t let it!

Throw 2017 out the window. Forget it ever happened. We’ll give Houston that benefit of the doubt as we paint our picture here. There are still plenty of instances that allow fans to theorize if the Astros are a genuine bunch.

From a cheating perspective, we already have examples from Game 1 of this World Series! From Aledmys Diaz attempting to get hit by two pitches by leaning over the plate to Martin Maldonado using an illegal bat (nobody cares about the context, it was an illegal model since 2010!), the Astros refuse to let this narrative die.

Rewind to 2019. During that World Series, the Washington Nationals alleged the Astros were cheating by relaying stolen signs via whistling tactics. They were warned by other clubs in preparation for that matchup as well.

Then came 2020, when the Astros were busted. Instead of anybody wholeheartedly owning up to the illegal practices, Alex Bregman smirked as he read off a sliver of paper and delivered an insulting apology. Astros players made excuses, claiming “not everyone bought into the system.” They attempted to downplay the guilt by claiming “everyone else did it” … yet there wasn’t nearly the amount of incriminating evidence surrounding teams such as the Red Sox, Dodgers and Yankees. Manager AJ Hinch did all he could to stop it, but didn’t stop it whatsoever. Carlos Correa told Cody Bellinger to “shut the f— up.” Former GM Jeff Luhnow was believed to have deleted evidence off his phone during MLB’s investigation into the cheating. Classy stuff.

How about the doctoring baseballs allegation that originated in Houston and eventually led to MLB banning “sticky stuff”? That happened, too.

Outside of the on-field tactics, the Astros don’t help themselves in the public eye as it pertains to being model citizens. Their assistant GM, Brandon Taubman, was fired years ago for yelling “I’m so f—ing glad we got [Roberto] Osuna!!”, which was seemingly directed at a group of female reporters (the Astros traded for Osuna in a deal with the Blue Jays as the reliever was embroiled in a domestic violence controversy). Owner Jim Crane’s alleged discriminatory hiring practices were made public in a report from the Houston Chronicle. Yuli Gurriel made a racist gesture at Yu Darvish’s expense during the 2017 World Series and was disciplined for it.

With each passing day, this organization becomes more and more disingenuous. That’s just the bottom line. And it has nothing to do with loving or hating them. It’s just what is. But fandom will force this to be a polarizing topic when it should be a uniting one.

— Thomas Carannante

Counting all the Ls the Astros have taken in the World Series

The Houston Astros took an L in Game 1 with Justin Verlander pitching and blowing a 5-0 lead, but they seemed to be back on track in Game 2 when Framber Valdez held them even the series 1-1. They arrived in Philadelphia on Monday for Game 3 and quickly realized they were in deep trouble. There were many more L’s to be had.

For starters, the Astros have left a bad taste in MLB fans’ mouths from their cheating scandal in 2017. Speaking of stealing signs, the fans of Philly have used that to taunt the Astros, creating billboards saying, “Had a funny sign but the Astros stole it.”

The fun doesn’t stop there for Philadelphia. In the true spirit of a city that faced a 10-year playoff drought and now gets to watch their team in the World Series. Verlander set the tone by flipping off a fan as soon as he stepped off the bus (in a humorous fashion, thankfully), and Philadelphia has given the ‘warm welcome’ right back to the Astros.

The city is so supportive of their team that the famous Angelo’s Pizza of South Philly refused to serve Astros players or staff. What better way to say, ‘Welcome to our city, we don’t want you to thrive here?’ After the Astros traveled all the way to Houston ready to play, Game 3 got postponed a night and they couldn’t even enjoy some good pizza if they wanted to. Rest assured, there are several places to eat in Philadelphia (maybe a McDonald’s will be willing to feed the visitors?)

The Phillies have yet to lose a postseason game at home this season, and they’re not breaking the streak quite yet. What a stressful way for the Astros to start Game 3, having to play at Citizens Bank Park with quite possibly the loudest fans of the postseason. In fact, the fans were so loud that the entire city was physically shaking. The fans caused an earthquake over Bryce Harper’s home run. Can the Astros say the same about their fans?

Sure, maybe it’d be easier to digest for Houston if they put out a decent performance amidst all of the craziness. However, the Phils decimated them. It became a home run showcase with roughly half of Philadelphia’s lineup hitting a home run. The Astros didn’t stand a chance, facing a 7-0 shutout in the end.

This is no surprise as they did the same to the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS, producing six runs in just the third inning and crushing the 2021 World Series champions 9-1.

— Rylie Smith

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