Culture / Sporting Life

Yankees Fans Mock the Astros Chances of Repeating as World Champs

Baseball’s Most Bitter New Rivalry is Already Heating Up

BY // 02.14.18

It is the most underrated rivalry in professional sports today — and it’s only going to heat up more in the coming months, right into October’s harsh glare. Houston Astros v. New York Yankees is on the verge of becoming an all-out blood feud.

Beers got tossed at some of the Astros’ loved ones, including manager A.J. Hinch’s family, during the American League Championship Series games at Yankee Stadium last October. Over-the-line insults — including what Astros centerfielder George Springer called “probably stuff I won’t repeat in 20 years” — were screamed at the Houston players. And the animosity certainly did not lessen after the Astros came back from a 3-2 deficit to eliminate the pinstriped empire in what turned into an epic ALCS.

Now, the Yankees and their fans are all but declaring the Astros a one-year wonder with little chance of defending their world championship. In fact, Hinch has been hearing that from a bunch of organizations around baseball.

“I should probably thank the teams around the league — and there have been a number of them — (with) somebody in the organization texting me, ‘We’re coming after you,’ ” Hinch says.

Of course, Yankees backers have been among the most vocal — the most certain that their team (solidified by the addition of $300 million slugger Giancarlo Stanton) will bash the Astros in any October rematch.

Astros Doubted at Every Turn

Hinch’s heard it from loud Yankees fans (are there really any other kind?) almost anywhere he’s gone this offseason. Particularly on this visits to Gotham on the baseball awards circuit.

“To the fans outside that New York writers dinner telling me I’d better enjoy the ring because it’s the last one because the Yankees are back, I thank you too,” Hinch says. “Because I will enjoy that damn ring.”

Hinch laughs. You get the sense that the Astros manager — a man who’s never been known to back down from a fight — enjoys this give and take. Just like he loves the fact his stacked team, one that returns its entire championship core and adds Gerritt Cole (a move that blocked the Yankees from acquiring a needed pitcher), is being cast as an underdog to New York in many circles.

Gerrit Cole Astros
The Astros traded for Gerrit Cole without giving up any of their untouchable, prized prospects.

 

The early baseball season preview magazines are out — and the Yankees are the clear national darlings. Street & Smith predicts that the Astros will lose to Stanton, Aaron Judge and Co. in the ALCS. Lindy’s Sports also has the Yankees representing the American League in the World Series.

Hinch’s seen the reasoning behind that up close — during the dinner in New York where Astros game changer Jose Altuve picked up his American League MVP Award. That night, the Yankees and Astros’ biggest stars found themselves sitting across a table from each other.

There is little doubt which team’s stars looked more imposing dressed in suits.

“One side of the table, it’s Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve,” Hinch says. “On this side, it’s Stanton and Judge. They may be big, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be better.”

Just try telling that to a Yankees fan.

With pitchers and catchers reporting to Astros Spring Training today in West Palm Beach, the champs are back. And somehow, still doubted. They’re certainly not feeling any love from the Yankees this Valentine’s Day.

Then again, New Yorkers always think they know everything. The Astros suddenly have more fuel to try and prove the Yankees wrong. Again.

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