My Year with the Houston Astros: Part 1

astroslogo
Elimination number: N/A

When I encounter new people, sometimes the subject of me being a baseball fan is breached. They inevitably ask me if I’m a Twins fan. I say I am, partly because it’s true and partly because small talk greatly increases my social anxiety symptoms. There was a time when I strayed away from baseball — this is probably more suited for another post — but suffice it to say that when I did come back, the Twins were a big part of it. When I returned, I returned with vigor and considered the Cheap Seats (capitalized because that was the actual name of the section) at the Metrodome my second home for years.

But part of my reintroduction was to make sure I paid attention to everything going on. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything, regardless of team. This is something I still hold on to. I care about the Twins, but I’m a fan of the sport. It was a part of my starting over, and it remains with me.

Starting over is a plot point for countless books, movies, and TV shows. A character wants to be rid of their current situation and works to change it. The character’s past usually catches up with them before the end, despite their best efforts. This is common in fiction because it holds true in our world. It’s incredibly difficult to leave your past behind. It lingers. It haunts.

The 2013 Houston Astros are trying to shake off their past — a past that includes seven managers in the past ten years. They are, for all intents and purposes, starting over. They are taking a brand new approach to building a good team, and are seemingly comfortable with the ends justifying the means. And they are getting crapped on. Jokes upon overused jokes are slung at the Astros, and because the team is probably going to lose a lot of games, those jokes will seem justified on the surface. But they’re not. We educated folk know that while the Astros are bad now, they are going to get better, maybe even sooner than we think.

The term “rebuilding” is bandied about quite a bit, but carries different meanings. The Twins are going to stink, and people label them as rebuilding. But their version is much different (and to me, worse) than the Astros’. I won’t break down the specifics, but the Astros have dedicated themselves to blowing it all up and starting with a clean slate, while the Twins look to piecemeal a transition team together while forfeiting future wins in the hope of not losing 100 games this season. The Twins are letting their past haunt them. The Astros have already bought a used passport on the Internet, dyed their hair, and gotten a job working for a scrap yard that pays cash.

What the Astros are doing, both from a baseball and philosophical standpoint, interest me a great deal — their approach, their willingness to be quite terrible, their confidence in that success will come soon. I don’t want to only be aware of them once they turn the corner. It’s that hallway leading up to that corner that interests me. It’s a dark, scary hallway. But much of life is lived in those hallways. There are only so many corners. How you get there is what matters.

So I’m proclaiming that this season, I’m going to follow the Houston Astros. I’m going to watch their games, I’m going to learn about their farm system and coaching staff, and I will follow their progression with a fairly intense attitude. For all intents and purposes, I’m going to be an Astros fan, I guess.

I will be using this space to periodically chronicle my adventures in this new-found territory. I hope the present and future reader will find value in it — seeing how the other half lives.

I’m not sure where this will take me, but I will promise to see it through this season. It will be rough. I will still keep up with the Twins — catch a few games here and there, read the blogs, listen to the podcasts. The Twins are still important to me for many reasons. But something is happening in Houston, and I want to be part of it. Wins are all fine and good, but this season, for me, will be about starting over. I wasn’t part of Houston’s past, but I will be watching as they build a new future.




Print This Post

David G. Temple is the Managing Editor of TechGraphs and a contributor to FanGraphs, NotGraphs and The Hardball Times. He hosts the award-eligible podcast Stealing Home. Dayn Perry once called him a "Bible Made of Lasers." Follow him on Twitter @davidgtemple.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jordy
Guest
Jordy
3 years 2 months ago

This looks like one of the most fun projects I’ve heard of someone embarking on. You’re going to enjoy yourself, and you’re going to end up as a Lastros fan for life! As a die-hard Pirates fan, I hope they do a better job of rebuilding than my franchise has…

Luke
Guest
Luke
3 years 2 months ago

Carry on my wayward son.

HMS
Guest
HMS
3 years 2 months ago

The reverse-bandwagon phenomenon isn’t quite as novel or unique as you might think. Lots of people became Tigers fans in 2003, and Marlins fans back in ’97.

yaboynate
Member
yaboynate
3 years 2 months ago

Yeah, and eventually the reverse bandwagoners will outnumber the REAL bandwagoners until the reverse bandwagoners ARE the real bandwagoners and that’s why Doritos makes a Doritos Locos Taco flavored Dorito.

that guy
Guest
that guy
3 years 2 months ago

“and that’s why Doritos makes a Doritos Locos Taco flavored Dorito.”

wow.

this phrase has a nonzero chance of becoming the internet’s greatest argument ending meme by july 4th.

jarjets89
Member
jarjets89
3 years 2 months ago

Can you make a post on the tandem starting pitchers they are doing throughout the minor leagues? They are the first team to do this and there has been lots of recent research on paired pitching, specifically by dave cameron last year and at the sloan sports analytics conference this year. Supposedly it can add 5.5 wins compared to not doing it.

http://www.sloansportsconference.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Rubin_PairedPitching1.pdf

reillocity
Guest
reillocity
3 years 2 months ago

Even if the Astros may already better than the Twins? It’s within reason that your allegiances might actually be moving up the totem pole rather than down here.

Table
Member
Table
3 years 2 months ago

Between the Astros and the Twins, your teams will probably win over 100 games!!! Just try and not watch the losses or something.

Illinois glass M. Michael Sheets
Guest
Illinois glass M. Michael Sheets
3 years 2 months ago

Forget about the wins and losses, the important thing here is that you are moving up on the TV broadcaster rankings with the change in fandom.

Jake
Guest
Jake
3 years 2 months ago

I wonder if the use of Erik Bedard on opening day shows that the Astros have interest in using a long reliever the likes of which hasn’t been seen in the major leagues in some time. I realize it’s difficult to prognosticate usage after one game but it seemed to line up with what they’re doing in the minors. Or I completely overreacted to one game…either way.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
3 years 2 months ago

I might do the same. You should get e minor league package and watch some of their farm games too.

Carson Cistulli
Admin
Member
3 years 2 months ago

From what I’ve been led to believe, Temple already has a minor-league package.

billy billions
Guest
billy billions
3 years 2 months ago

There are more ways to tank than there are ways to win, good luck Houston, Pittsburgh’s still looking for it

djmax101
Member
Member
djmax101
3 years 2 months ago

As a denizen of Houston I’m pretty optimistic about Houston’s future. Better to suck and then be good, then be mediocre all the time.

taft's wild pitch
Guest
taft's wild pitch
3 years 2 months ago

I applaud this effort. A hold new frontier in fandom – I’m similarly curious about the ‘stros as a rational pursuit to complement my emotional draw to the Giants. I think this team will fascinate and I look forward to your posts

alamosweet
Member
alamosweet
3 years 2 months ago

Welcome aboard, and enjoy your time with the fan base for which Marwin Gonzalez is an instant folk hero for breaking up a perfect game that everybody in baseball wanted to see happen.

wpDiscuz