Over the years, the city of Houston’s sports teams have opposed the mantra of former Astro manager Leo Durocher: “Nice guys finish last.” (By the way, it is probable that “The Lip” actually said something about his opponents the Giants being “nice guys and nice guys are in seventh place”, but later he claimed the more concise quote for the title of his autobiography).
But it has felt like over the years that the Rockets, Astros, Oilers and later the Texans were focused on adding nice guys to their rosters and not taking chances with players who have had character issues. And that is of course why many thought that these teams would never be successful. But now that the Astros and Rockets have been pretty nice guys and won the ultimate championships the desire to bring in “bad boys” has fallen to the side as a way to change their luck.
Truthfully, there have been problems over the years. The two-year suspensions of Lewis Lloyd, and Mitchell Wiggins of the Rockets for cocaine use was extremely public. The drug demons former Astro Ken Caminiti faced were not so public until his untimely death but were allegedly happening during his playing days, too. There have been charges (long after the fact) of alleged sexual harassment by former Oilers QB Warren Moon. Astro Julio Lugo was accused of domestic abuse and was immediately DFA’d and released. There have been PED and recreational drug suspensions for players with all the local teams. There was also former Astro GM Ed Wade being beaten up by pitcher Shawn Chacon and immediately let go. (Chacon, not Wade).
But in general, the teams have not been a haven for those who were looking for a second chance. Perhaps Miguel Tejada was the closest to this. Perhaps the Astros knew Miguel Tejada was about to be identified as a PED abuser when they traded for him or perhaps this was naivete on Drayton McLane’s part.
Bottomline, what happened Monday afternoon was unusual in the history of Houston sports’ history. The Astros front office knowingly went out and traded for a player Roberto Osuna, currently serving a 75 game suspension for alleged domestic abuse. This trade is a test for the Astros’ fans, for the team for the young man himself. He is only 23 y.o. but has been in the big leagues since he was 20. He is not totally in the clear as the case is still open in the Canadian courts. A critical player, Justin Verlander is supposedly unhappy about this pick-up as he is a huge opponent of domestic abuse.
One of the Astros’ most glaring weaknesses this season has been the bullpen. Now the front office may be showing a glaring weakness in the area of ethics as they attempt to fill that spot.
The fans are caught in the middle. They love their team. They know every weakness and want the team to succeed. But they wonder at what cost.