Will Some Astros Try to Win at Any Cost... Whether it's sportsmanlike or not?

While most of the Houston players play according to the rules, a few have acted out their emotions this season, possibly crossing the line.
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

When Some Players are Worried Talent Is Not Enough, They Go to Plan B

My daughter played club soccer. When an opponent that lacked sportsmanship was worried that they might not win, they would start tripping and shoving our players.  Good sportsmanship was dispensable when they feared losing.

I find it interesting that any Astros player would be a bad sport given that several players on this team cheated during the 2017 season, I would think that they would play an extra clean game to improve their reputation. Most of the players do play with sportsmanship and the team is capable of winning based on talent alone. There are a few players who get emotional and act out.

Warren Moon, a former football star, had this to say about sportsmanship: “Sportsmanship is making sure you have respect for the guy you’re playing across from.”

Hector Neris said that he attacked Julio Rodriguez because he wanted to wake up his team. This activity is not respectful nor within the rules of the game.

Dusty Baker on Tuesday

I have always had great respect for Dusty Baker, therefore I was surprised when he inferred on Tuesday night that Mariners' pitchers hit his players intentionally. “I’m tired of our guys getting hit. It makes guys a lot bolder when they don’t have to hit.”

Why did Baker say this? Houston’s pitchers have hit Mariners batters more often this season. He made assumptions about the pitchers when he did not know the truth. Misrepresenting the truth in a public way is disrespectful.

Andrếs Muñoz hit Chas McCormick in the lower back with a pitch Tuesday. As a Mariners fan, I was concerned that it might have hit his kidney. I hope he is alright. I think it is interesting that Baker thought that two errant pitches were intentional. Was he projecting? The team where I have seen pitchers “act out” is his own team.

Neris Abuses Rodríguez to Wake Up the Astros

Yesterday, Hector Neris struck out the Mariners Julio Rodríguez. As Rodríguez walked back to the dugout, Neris strode after him and began yelling something at him that I could not hear. Root Sports announcers noted that they had never seen anything like that before.

Neris explained, “It’s part of the game, emotional, like this situation today, But it’s nothing personal. It’s only trying to [wake] up my team.” Neris clearly finds this behavior acceptable.

According to Eugenio Suárez, on deck when this happened, Neris “started doing something that is not good for people who speak Spanish.” He also mentioned that Neris used a homophobic slur against Rodríguez. Rodríguez, who thought he and Neris were friends, was surprised and then became angry. The dugouts emptied and it took a while for everyone to calm down.

Neris’ tactic, however, appeared to work. Houston began scoring runs and ultimately won the game. Would they have won without this “call to arms?” Who knows?

This behavior does remind me of high school girls’ games when teams will try to win at any cost, using means outside of the game rules to do so.

Several Astros Players Failed to Contain Their Emotions in the Past

During the 2023 season, several Astros players have failed to contain their emotions and caused a scene when playing the Mariners.

When the Mariners were hosting the Astros in May 2023, Martín Maldonado, Astros catcher, became upset with the Mariners Josế Caballero. Apparently, Caballero’s ability to use the pitch clock strategically irritated the catcher and Houston pitcher Brandon Bielak. Maldonado and Caballero faced off, but the umpire was able to restore order fairly quickly.

In August 2023, the Mariners visited Houston. Dylan Moore hit a home run while Framber Valdez was pitching. Josế Caballero was up next, and Valdez hit him in the shin. The benches cleared. Julio Rodríguez, a friend of Valdez, spent time attempting to calm the pitcher. So, did Valdez bean Caballero because of Moore’s home run or because of the prior issue with Maldonado? It does not matter. When I saw Caballero come to bat with Valdez on the mound yesterday, I told my husband that I was worried for Caballero.

And then, last night, Neris verbally attacked Julio Rodríguez after striking him out.

In Conclusion

I do not think that Mariners players should have to fear coming to bat or walking to the dugout when playing the Astros. I think that the behavior of Maldonado, Valdez, and Neris this season is unacceptable.

Is it possible to say that we do not allow players who shout homophobic slurs to the ballpark?

Is it possible to deny players who have mistreated Mariners players to T-Mobile Park?

I hope that the Astros are holding their players accountable for their actions. Because it continually happens, however, I wonder if that is happening. Ironically, I saw an article on the Astros' site titled "Standing Tall v. the Mariners." I think it might be more appropriate to say "Stooping Low v. the Mariners.