Summer is legitimately my least favorite season. Everywhere I have lived has been very hot, I have fair skin and always get sunburned at some point despite every application of sunscreen, and the sweat is the worst. There is no way to be comfortable in the summer — none. There are only so many clothes one can take off until you’re naked and still sweating.
One of the only good things about the summer is baseball. Listening to games through the MLB At Bat app became a comfort, oftentimes games would be happening while I’d be working, either walking the length of the dog parks I visit, or in my car between client’s homes. I also had the privilege of being able to visit Dodger Stadium a fair amount during the Pre-Covid times, enjoying a Mango Cart beer and a couple Dodger Dogs, and the ribbing of people asking my boyfriend when he would “convert me” into a Dodger fan.
Because up until recently, I would wear my Houston Astros gear with pride — and sure, maybe smugness — around that stadium when we’d visit.
Now those shirts sit in my drawer, stuffed towards the back so I’m not tempted to pull them out. Now those hats hang on my clothing rack where it wouldn’t be easy to grab them.
Living in LA, I’ve avoided talking about the Astros a lot since the cheating scandal had been exposed. All my friends knew that I was a fan — they knew I was from Houston and loved a good underdog. Especially ones as good at being terrible as the Astros. We had gotten so close in 2005, the sweep by the White Sox of all teams still stings.
My favorite cap is an old 90’s one that my dad got me from a local sporting goods store called Academy, when I was playing little league as a kid. It still fits because he cut the snapback strap with his pocket knife in the parking lot, because my head was too small and it would’ve gone over.
I had told so many people to root for them, because they were the good guys. They were the true underdogs, doing things right by developing their players and playing the right way. They had toiled, spent so many season with losing records, that when they started to win it was almost unbelievable. But part of me thought they deserved this, all that work was starting to pay off, all those years watching them end up as the LASTros once again were finally turning around.
Why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t I have thought the best of my team that I had supported in some way, shape, or form, since I was a kid? My hometown team.
I still have the video of me crying in 2017 when we won the World Series, although now it’s just for me and no one else.
What do you do when a team like that, that has given you such joy and so thoroughly convinced you they were the only good and fair team in the sport, betrays that? When is it time to cut and run, to say thanks for all the memories but it’s time to move on?
The truth is, it’s not just the cheating scandal that has corrupted my love of my team — although that is a big part of it. It’s knowing that even though my favorite player didn’t participate, he didn’t try to stop it. It’s knowing that the club willingly signed pitcher Roberto Osuna as he served a 75-game ban for a domestic violence charge (that was later dropped when the woman refused to testify). It’s seeing an assistant general manager of the team yell at female reporters about how glad he was that we signed Osuna, and then fumble an apology by claiming the female reporter had been lying about the incident.
It’s watching players that did participate in the cheating scandal half-heartedly apologize.
It’s the fact that there have been times when I’ve tried to justify it, by saying that loads of teams do it and have done it for years. Tried to get defensive, wondering why the Astros are the scapegoats, are seen as the ultimate villains. Laughed at memes poking fun at the whole scandal, because if I don’t laugh I’ll cry (Orbit doesn’t deserve it).
I love sports. I love supporting my teams, through losing seasons and winning titles. As a fan, you want to be there for them through the hard times, and the good. That’s loyalty, that’s what being a fan is about.
Where is the line, though? What is the thing that tells you they no longer deserve your support? Is it cheating their way to their first World Series title ever? Is it signing a guy in the middle of him serving a 75-game ban because of domestic violence? Is it watching the clubhouse claim a female Sports Illustrated reporter is lying about watching an assistant GM declare how fucking happy he is we signed the abuser?
Or do you take it on the chin, hide your shirts and your hats, until it all blows over? How do you get through that? How does it blow over and how does that feel at the end of it?
I don’t know. I do know that these feelings have made it harder to enjoy what used to be a comfort. I’ve listened to one game this whole season, forced as it is because of the coronavirus and it shouldn’t be happening at all. As nice as it was to hear their radio announcers again, and all the local Houston commercials, I couldn’t pretend that none of these things had happened. That my club, my team, hadn’t taken part in any of these actions that have made them so contemptible to other fans. Friends of mine, that I care deeply about, hate my team for what they have done. What they “got away with.” It’s hard to separate from that, to accept that it isn’t a reflection on me — because it kind of is, even as friends that are Dodger fans have tried to soothe me.
I have devoted a lot of time, energy, and love, into that team. And their actions, while not actually a personal betrayal, still hurt to acknowledge. We all want to support the good guys, or know that the guys we do support are good. Good enough to deserve our support. That glass has been broken a little bit now for me.
The Houston Astros are part of my home, but I haven’t lived there in 8 years. I don’t think I’m ready to give them up entirely, but we need a break.