Friday Night Fright?
Why you cannot give up on Astros: Hunter Pence is still more fun to cheer thanAlex Rodriguez
If you've only been a Houston Astros fan for a decade or so, this might be a tough year for you.
The Astros started with a shaky lineup of rookies and underperforming vets, and only look worse as a result of losing two key players to injury before the season even started, one of them — catcher/non-American Idol finalist Jason Castro — for the season.
Oh yeah, and they're 1-5 — after finally getting a win Thursday. With inconsistent pitching and predictions of a terrible offense, it's no surprise that commentators are forecasting that Friday night could bring the lowest attendance at a home opener in Minute Maid Park history.
But as a formerly long-suffering Texas Rangers fan, I have to say that real fans are in it for better or for worse. Sure, there was a time in the mid-1990s when the Rangers could impress with offense, if not wins, and were often the best team in the American League West, which at the time was similar to being the skinniest kid at fat camp.
No matter what, we went to games and we watched. On any given day for about a decade I could call my grandpa and bring up the Rangers and he would respond with how some of the players were looking good "but THE PITCHING, they just can't seem to buy any pitching ...."
Anyone who believes that it's all about big names in the lineup can ask any Rangers fan about the Alex Rodriguez years and the insane idea that one juiced up player can carry an entire team. Personally I'd rather watch Hunter Pence chase down a fly ball in right field, Michael Bourn take off for second base while the pitcher's back is turned and Brett Wallace get a chance to be the next Mark Teixeira (yes, before he was a Yankee he was an unproven prospect made good in Arlington).
What I'm saying is those who cheer during the lean years feel the victory of the good years much deeper and more profoundly. Is that too New Age-y for baseball fans?
How about this: Teams don't get better by having fans stay away. Just ask the Kansas City Royals (temporarily hot start this year, regardless).
So when it comes to Minute Maid Park's opening night, there might not be much in the way of expectations to look forward to. But for those who love the Astros, or who love baseball, taking a year off is simply not an option.