UPDATE: Read more here about Brett Wallace released.
By Brian Todd
A few weeks ago I made a comment and used the phrase “boot-licking, bi-coastal media.”
I was rather proud of myself. In fact, I strained a ligament trying to pat myself on the back.
But the fact is, the media tends to look down on our beloved Astros. And while it would be easy to say that this bias against the H-Town Nine can be explained away by three straight years of 100-plus losses, the fact is, the major media in this country has been snubbing all things Astros for years.
My proof? Well, to be honest, sometimes it seems pretty plain. Ken Rosenthal wasn’t complimenting The Luhnow Plan when he wrote in 2012 and 2013 about the low payroll. Buster Olney basically accused Crane and Luhnow of aiming more for that top draft pick than for extra wins.
Then there are the Hall of Fame slights to Biggio and Bagwell. Bagwell is a mystery to me, but due to the bogus PED arguments—though I don’t agree with them—I can understand writers’ hesitancy to vote for him. But how anyone doesn’t vote for Biggio is beyond me. And, frankly, the snubbing of Houston in general can be the only explanation.
But sometimes the slights toward the Astros are more veiled and harder to spot.
Take the Luhnow Plan vs. the Moreno Plan. When the Angels went out and signed Prince Albert to a $254 million deal—just days after shelling out $77.5 million over five years to C.J. Wilson—no one talked about the way Moreno was killing the game with loose money. In fact, while both deals were heralded as the wave of the future for the franchise, only now has the media done more than vaguely hint that signing an aging slugger might not have been the best plan. Meanwhile, Luhnow gets kudos for the farm system, but no one is looking at Houston and saying the obvious: Bet you big money the Astros make the playoffs before the Halos do.
The Angels of Some L.A. Suburb, in case you didn’t realize it, went from just missing the playoffs in 2012 to underwater in 2013. And it’s not just the Angels. Anyone think the Phillies are headed in the right direction? The media is kinder to their organization than Houston’s.
Need more proof. How about Derek Jeter. Now Jeter has had a great career. Only man to collect 3,000 hits in pinstripes. The Captain. A true leader on the field and one of the best players of his generation. I hate the Yankees (spit) but even I have to admit Jeter has been a great ballplayer.
But that’s the key phrase here. “Has been.” Last year, Jeter posted a negative batting WAR. His defense—did he win another undeserved Gold Glove?—was only really bad instead of horribly bad. How bad? Well, his Total Zone Runs Average based on 1,200 innings (basically, how many runs would you have saved above average over a season) was minus-48. Jonathan Villar’s was only minus-18.
Ok, you say, Captain Clutch isn’t the player he used to be. Well, neither was Craig Biggio in his second-to-last season. But he still put up a plus WAR. Yet when Biggio came back for that final season—after still contributing positively to his team—he was derided nonstop. Jeter will be hailed all season as a demigod. Why the difference, especially when Jeter has already posted negative WAR? Seven letters: Y-A-N-K-E-E-S. (Spit.)
You see it in other little things. Jason Castro is, correctly, referred to as the Astros’ lone All-Star. But looking at the stats, he was a very legitimate All-Star. Still he’s always called “the Astros’ lone All-Star” like he made the team without merit.
Speaking of All-Stars, Houston had two other players at the All-Star Break who had good cases to be included. At the time of the break, Altuve was just starting a decline, but still looked like a legit All-Star. And Bud Norris was putting together a good season despite his team. If our uniforms had said “Dodgers” on them, would one or the other have been selected?
Then there’s the hoopla over Byron Buxton. Hey, the guy is amazing. But Houston has a shortstop who might be the next non-Roided A-Rod. Still, I’d be shocked if we’ve seen the last of the national media stories wondering if Houston got it wrong … even after Carlos Correa put up amazing numbers as an 18-year-old at full-season A-ball.
Finally, there were the “home” games in the middle of a playoff race that were played in Milwaukee. How nice of Bug Selig (rot in Hades, Bud!) to offer his home stadium. I’m sure he didn’t make a cent off of that. But did anyone in the national media call out Bud for his sketchy hospitality? If they did, I missed it.
Oh, and the whole move to the American League. Look, I’ve long come to terms with the DH and 50 years of NL tradition being flushed down the drain. (Remember hating the Dodgers?) But again there was a paucity of stories on how several other teams—the Rockies, the Brewers—made more sense, but because Bud had Luhnow and Drayton over a barrel, he forced the move to the AL.
So, as we gear up for another season of Yankees (spit), Red Sox and Angels on ESPN, and short-sighted articles on how Houston is purposely losing games to pick 1-1 for a fourth time, what stories are you least looking forward to reading?
Which media slights from the past bug you the most? OK, what besides the Hall of Fame thing?
Does George Springer have a disadvantage in the ROY race just because he plays for Houston?
Any chance—any at all—that the Astros land a second player on the All-Star team … and that either actually plays?
What’s your over/under guess on the day you throw your TV out a window for one-too-many fawning Jeter stories?