Culture / Sporting Life

Playoff George, Correa Give Yankees, Rest of Baseball Real Reason to Fear the Astros — Supervillains or Just Super Clutch?

Hated by Many, the Astros are Turning October Into Their Own Rollicking Party — Again

BY // 10.06.20

If the Houston Astros are the supervillains that the rest of America wants to think they are, they’re definitely much more Thanos than Danny DeVito’s Penguin. These October Astros are something to fear, capable of great destruction.

Heck, even Tony Soprano wouldn’t mess with these guys. Especially not in the 10th month of the year.

With Playoff George and Big-Game Correa taking turns dominating back-to-back playoff games at Dodgers Stadium, the Astros have already pushed the favored Oakland A’s to the brink of elimination. It is George Springer’s turn on another hot, sun-drenched Los Angeles afternoon Tuesday. The free agent-to-be, who is more than aware he could be playing his last October with the Astros, hits two home runs the day after Carlos Correa hits two home runs in Game 1.

And now these dynastic Astros are up 2-0 in this best-0f-five American League Divisional Series after a 5-2 Game 2 victory, one more win away from making the American League Championship Series for the fourth straight year. Just as importantly, the Astros are having fun again, playing the rolling, rollicking brand of merry baseball that made so many fall in love with them before the electronic sign stealing scandal.

Go stuff that in your trash can costume. . .

Baseball’s once reluctant bad boys are embracing the moment. Again. Hate and all. With plenty of love within the clubhouse itself.

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“This is a team that believes in one another, sticks together and really tries to enjoy the day,” Springer says in his postgame Zoom interview with reporters.

The A’s came into this series talking big, openly speaking about their desire to stick it to a team they perceive as cheaters. Well the A’s got the Astros — and they’re in danger of being swept right out of the playoffs by them.

There might not be a Halloween this year. But there’s going t0 be an Astros October.

Poking a proven championship team almost never proves to be a wise idea in professional sports. Just ask Michael Jordan’s many nemeses — real and imagined.

The A’s are getting the best of the Astros in this series. With Springer, Correa, Bregman and even catcher Martin Maldonado grabbing the moment, the Astros have hit all the most important dingers in a ballpark that’s playing like an episode of Home Run Derby. They’ve put up 15 runs in two games against Oakland’s hyped pitching staff, downright terrorizing the bullpen that’s supposed to be the strength of this A’s team.

Welcome to AstroWorld. The rest of us call it October.

“With every victory, the energy and the confidence grows,” says Astros manager Dusty Baker, whose no panic approach in the regular season allowed the proud, core Astros to find their way. “You’re expecting to good things to happen.

“You’re expecting to win.”

An Astros October

Baker gave the Astros a chance to become the 2000 Yankees — another championship proven team that struggled down the stretch of the regular season only to remember who they were in October. Now, the rest of baseball has real reason to be very afraid.

And it has nothing to do with banging trash cans or conveniently placed TV monitors.

Instead, it’s all about Playoff George and Big-Time Correa and Framber Valdez, the curveball spinning and sinker dropping revelation who’s somehow helped make up for the loss of both Justin Verlander and potentially Zack Greinke (arm soreness).

“I feel like I’m playing the best baseball of my life right now,” Valdez says, having given up two runs in 12 high-leverage, high-tension playoff innings.

Framber Valdez tosses a pitch in the first inning in a rematch of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park
Astros pitcher Framber Valdez is a difference making arm. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

“One, I’m just trying to help the team win,” Springer, who now has a remarkable 17 postseason home runs on his resume, says. “And two, it’s the playoffs. It’s supposed to be fun. You don’t know if you’re ever going to get back here.

“The time here. . . you might as well have fun.”

Why not turn October baseball into a party? These Astros do that better than any team in the game. In many ways, they’re powered by George Springer’s infectious joy and Carlos Correa’s unapologetic bravado. If the rest of the baseball universe outside of Houston wasn’t so fixated on hating the Astros, they might notice they’re missing the chance to enjoy one of most fun teams in any sport.

There might not be a Halloween this year. But there’s going t0 be an Astros October.

Houston starter Lance McCullers wasn’t kidding when he talked about the Astros “feeling dangerous” after Game 1.

Red warning lights should be blaring throughout the rest of baseball. The notion that the storied New York Yankees and the 40-win Tampa Bay Rays are playing the de facto American League Championship Series a round early down the highway in San Diego is gone now. Any LA Dodgers’ vision of rolling happily through October seems like a naive fantasy, too.

The Houston Astros are back. The question for the rest of baseball is: What are they going to do about it?

Good luck to those trying to come up with the answer. All the Astro Haters are going to need it.

The supervillains are becoming their own heroes, one big moment at a time.

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