In the fifth inning of Astros-Angels Monday night, fans in the right-field stands bumped and batted a large inflatable trash can until it inevitably rolled across some seated fans, over the outfield wall, and down onto the field. Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker, the nearest man to the action, glanced around sheepishly and was serenaded with a loud chant of “cheater.”
Tucker is in his fourth season but just his first as an everyday player, and was not one of the main architects or participants in the disgraceful, game-breaking sign-stealing scheme that transformed the Astros into a World Series-winning juggernaut. Still, I think you’ll agree that this is the correct and proper way for all baseball fans to treat all Astros players until the heat death of the universe.
The trash can was a recurring motif last night. It’s just going to be that way for the Astros, who banged on dugout trash cans to communicate pitch selections stolen using an illicit outfield camera in 2017 and 2018, before they finally found themselves whistleblown in 2019. Here’s a good baseball fan banging on a real stadium trash can in the third inning of this same game, in the same section:
The trash can taunting reached its climax in the top of the sixth inning, with confirmed cheater José Altuve at the plate. Those same right-field fans grabbed up a large pink plastic trash can full of actual stadium trash and hurled that sucker down onto the field. Hell yes.
I don’t see how anyone who is not an Astros fan or a disgusting member of the Astros organization will ever get tired of this routine. Manager Dusty Baker, who despite being one of baseball’s good guys is now managing these clowns, has the unenviable job of keeping a straight face while telling assembled media and the broader baseball world that in fact all this good and righteous heckling is quite bad. Following the Astros’ 7-6 loss Monday night, Dusty’s poor brain wasn’t quite up to the task:
“How many in the stands have never done anything wrong in their life? We paid the price for it. How many people have not cheated on a test or whatever at some point in time. I mean it’s easy if you live in glass houses, but I don’t think anybody lives in glass houses.ESPN
“I think that sometimes we need to look at ourselves before you spew hate on somebody else. It’s a sad situation for America, to me, when you hear things — I mean what are the kids supposed to think in the stands? And some of them are kids that are following their parents. It’s sad to me. People make mistakes. We paid for ours, and I wish they’d leave it alone.”
For one thing, no, the Astros absolutely did not pay the price for it. Then-manager A.J. Hinch and then-general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a season, the team was fined some cash and forfeited some draft picks, and that’s it. No players were punished, and the World Series title the Astros got in 2017* was not ripped from their filthy hands. That the organization and these players should spend the rest of time having trash cans hurled in their direction is fair and also a poor substitute for the biblical reckoning MLB spared them.
For another thing, that is not how the glass houses proverb works, dammit!