from the h, with love
NYC-born Ken Hoffman reveals striking similarities between the Yankees and those 'Damn Astros'
I attended elementary school at P.S. 125 in Manhattan. We lived in an apartment building across the street at Grant’s Tomb. My friends and I hid our Playboys behind the back entrance of the national memorial. (Editor's note: Our apologies to the former president and Civil War hero's family.)
Yankee Stadium was 3.3 miles away: four stops and 12 minutes on the subway. We went as kids. Safest place in the world. Then.
Kids and their parents and everybody else in New York loved the Yankees, the winningest team in American sports lore. There are 27 World Series pennants blowin’ in the wind above Yankee Stadium. I didn’t realize then that everywhere else, everybody else hated the Yankees. Winning is easy to hate when it’s the other guys doing it.
First there was the book called The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. It was made into a long-running and still occasionally revived Broadway musical called Damn Yankees. The plot has a long-suffering baseball fan, not a New Yorker, who despises the Yankees so much that he sells his soul to the devil in exchange for the Bronx Bombers losing the pennant. The musical was even made into a movie.
Now, I’m a Houstonian. I live 6.4 miles from Minute Maid Park — just double the distance of my old home to Yankee Stadium — and I drive to the ballpark on the Southwest Freeway. Takes me 15 minutes. Unlike Yankee Stadium now, Minute Maid Park is a safe, fun place.
The Yankees then. The Astros now.
Beloved at home. Hated in 29 other baseball towns. The Yankees used to win, win, win. The Astros now — good luck trying to beat these guys.
This year, it may take more than the devil to stop the lovable, Damn Astros from winning the World Series.
It was poetic justice, straight from a Broadway script, that the Astros went to New York to complete a merciless sweep of the Yankees on Sunday, October 23. A week before, New York fans pleaded, “We want Houston.” Be careful what you wish for. Better, just keep quiet.
Yankees fans chanted “we want houston”
They did not want houston pic.twitter.com/HLTniTs1MV
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 24, 2022
Astros pitchers struck out Yankees batters like a video game set on “easy.” Astros rookie Jeremy Peña won MVP of the American League Championship Series. Remember when Astros fans were worried if he could fill Carlos Correa’s shoes at shortstop? Manager Dusty Baker is headed to his third World Series as a manager. Justin Verlander could win another truck to drive his wife’s horses around. How cool is José Altuve? Mired in a historic postseason slump, Altuve was willing to pose for a selfie with a lunatic who ran onto the field in the ninth inning of a close ALCS game.
Speaking of cool, check out this line from former Boston Red Sox pitcher and longtime Yankees hater Pedro Martinez that best sums up Astros vs. Yankees.
The nanosecond that Yankee slugger Aaron Judge tapped back to Ryan Pressly, who’s been more untouchable than Eliot Ness, for the final out, my email lit up – the Astros store at Minute Maid Park would stay open night and day to sell ALCS Astros gear. Dick’s Sporting Goods would have extended hours and curb service for T-shirts, hats and other commemorative apparel. Academy has everything Astros you could want.
And all those hip, fashionable fans have options, too.
Some sweet World Series action
Astros fans should be well dressed and with a little luck, well rested if the Astros go all the way. Mattress Mack is still running his promotion – buy a $3,000 mattress and you get your money back if the Astros win the World Series. When the promotion started, the Astros were a longshot. Now they’re the favorites. As Cosmo Kramer would say, that’s some sweet action.
The Astros promotions department is on high alert: more replica ring giveaways for fans in 2023. Championship rings are the most popular giveaways in the team’s history. At this rate, Astros fans will have more rings than Jennifer Lopez and Pam Anderson (currently tied at 4 — both active).
A word of advice for politicians attempting to glom onto the Astros popularity – don’t. Senator Ted Cruz posted photos and congratulated the Astros on Twitter. The replies were brutal (just scroll down—sad!)
Defeating the empire
Where do the Astros and Yankees go from here? It’s obvious for the Astros, the World Series starts Friday, October 28 against the Philadelphia Phillies at Minute Maid Park. The Astros rendered the Yankees a wreck on the side of the Major Deegan Expressway in The Bronx. Fans gave up on the Yankees – Sunday night’s clincher was not sold out. Yankee fans were selling their LCS tickets at pennies on the dollar on the secondary market.
New York sports writers and talk hosts are howling for manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman to be fired. Star Aaron Judge, their best player and team leader, is a free agent. The roster is full of holes and underperformers. The Yankees were sub-.500 in August, September, and October. Now assuredly they’re a psychological and downtrodden mess after losing to the Astros again. And again. And again.
Those Damn Astros.