Thanks Houston Astros; you have just destroyed the upcoming baseball season.
Aaron Judge could hit 80 home runs, but we’ll be watching Houston games regardless of if the score is 12-1 because stories regarding your past shenanigans and what opposing pitcher threw at what Astro batter will lead off SportsCenter.
The Atlanta Braves could win 15 straight games but anytime a Houston player homers someone will swear they heard the sound of a trash can lid banging in the dugout during the pitcher’s stretch.
We could actually have a meaningful All-Star Game and we’ll still be wondering why Houston is even eligible to compete for a division crown this season, much less still claim the 2017 World Series title, a mark that should have as big an asterisk beside it as anything the Dothan Wolves managed in the 2019-20 school year because of the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s failure to justifiably make the newly merged 7A school ineligible for the 6A postseason. Of course, allowing the likes of private schools — McGill-Toolen, etc. — play with different rules as public schools is also one of the AHSAA errors, so we shouldn’t be shocked.
But, back to Houston. I grew up loving the Jimmy “Toy Canon” Wynn and Bob Watson Astros. Why not? My early high school uniforms kinda resembled the Astros’ outlandish orange and white unis. I also liked the Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell days. And if you couldn’t admire Nolan Ryan, then perhaps you don’t understand pure baseball gold.
There was also the sad story of former Houston fireballer J.R. Richard, who had pitched against my uncle’s high school teams before becoming one of the most feared hurlers in MLB. Richard suffered a stroke during his prime in 1980. Homeless and destitute after failing a comeback bid and in financial ruin, he once helped move a pile of wood for a brother-in-law outside of Houston as he was just trying to survive, living under a bridge according to an ESPN feature. My brother-in-law, after realizing who he was, grabbed some old baseball cards and had Richard sign them. He threw in a little extra in hopes Richard could eat well for at least a few nights.
Johnny Bench, considered one of the greatest catchers ever, said Richard was the toughest pitcher he ever faced. So did Dale Murphy... and others.
According to reports, Richard became involved with a local church and his now a Christian minister.
ESPN cares about as much what I think as Nancy Pelosi — and trust me, she doesn’t want to know my thoughts — but here’s an idea: Do a 30 For 30 special on Richard and show what he has become today and the trials and tribulations he’s been through.
Houston needs something positive because the Astros have ruined a lot of things thanks to their cheating ways. And here we thought New England was bending the rules...