Now that the Astros are back in the World Series, everyone in the Houston area proudly wears orange, adores everything about Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and the Astros can do no wrong. They are the best team in baseball and those who disagree are haters.
But not everyone in Texas, and in parts of the U.S. are Astros fans even though the team has won consistently and made it to the World Series four times in the last six years.
Most of the hatred stems from the 2017 cheating scandal, when the Astros were involved in a sign-stealing scandal that the team used during its World Series championship run, using closed circuit video and trashcans.
Most of the hatred is because fans felt the Astros players handled the backlash of the scandal poorly by trying to explain it away or not asking for forgiveness enough. Or because the punishment from baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wasn’t severe enough and the team wasn’t forced to forfeit its 2017 title.
But the hate goes further than just the scandal. Sometimes it’s territorial, like even in your own state (looking at you, Texas Rangers fans). Mostly, it’s because the big market teams (namely the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers) have lost to the Astros throughout the years.
So let’s go through each level of hate, starting close to home.
There’s always been a rivalry between Texas’ two biggest cities, and that extends to their respective sports teams. Whether it be Cowboys vs. Texans, Mavericks vs. Rockets, and especially Rangers vs. Astros, those in the DFW are not running to put on the orange to support the Astros, even if they are in the World Series.
The Rangers-Astros rivalry was nonexistent for the longest time until Major League Baseball began interleague play back in 1997 and the Astros were still in the National League. It was still a tame rivalry, but it got heated when the Astros moved into the American League West with the Rangers in 2013.
The Rangers had the best of the Astros in the first part of the rivalry, winning the AL West in 2015 and 2016, but the Astros have won the division title five of the last six seasons, while the Rangers have had a losing record the last six years.
And head-to-head, the Astros have beaten Texas 28-10 the last two years.
West Coast Bias
Other AL West teams also have disdain for the Astros, mostly because they were the victims of the sign stealing scheme the team used in 2017 and 2018. And those teams have not forgotten that.
Fans of the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners have booed Astros players constantly when they played at their respective ballparks in the last two years, even some of them dressing as trashcans. But the booing doesn’t seem to bother the Astros from consistently beating their division opponents on their way to winning the AL West for the last two years.
New York State of Play
If there is one fan base that feeds on Astro hatred, it is New York Yankee fans. When the scandal broke, a Yankee fan site helped feed the frenzy by alleging that Jose Altuve wore a wire that told him what pitches were coming when he hit the game-winning home run in the 2019 American League Championship Series. Never mind that it was total bunk, it still fed the angst that the Astros are cheaters, even when they aren’t.
But it’s more than the cheating. The Yankees haven’t made it to a World Series since 2009. And the team that stood in the way of making it back to the Series the last few years have been the Astros.
The Astros have endured booing and all kinds of catcalling at Yankee Stadium the last couple of years. But it seems to not phase them in their play, especially in this year’s postseason.
Yankee fans chanted “We want Houston” after advancing to the 2022 ALCS. Then after being swept by the Astros in the ALCS, Astros fans said to Yankee fans, “We want Houston, you got Houston.”
Yankee fans will more likely put the Boston Red Sox as their top hated team. But the Astros are quickly coming up fast for that top spot.
City of Brotherly Love?
The Astros are facing the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. And as Cowboy fans know very well, Philly fans are very passionate about their team, and even more so about who they face.
Philadelphia fans love to boo. They boo every team their team plays against. They even boo their own team when they play poorly or not to expectations. They even booed Santa Claus. Yes, St. Nick got booed by Philly fans one time.
So expect the Astros to get booed a lot in Games 3-5 as Phillies fans do what they do. But it may not be because of the cheating scandal, but because the Astros are in the way of the Phillies winning the World Series for the first time since 2006.
No California love
One fan base that really has the Astros living rent-free in their heads is Los Angeles Dodgers fans, who feel jilted from the 2017 World Series, when the Astros used their sign-stealing system to beat the Dodgers in seven games.
But remember that the system only was used for games at home, meaning that the Astros couldn’t steal signs on the road. And they won two games at Dodger Stadium, including the Game 7 that won the title. So while it doesn’t excuse the cheating, it does show a little bit that the Astros were a good team.
But that doesn’t matter to Dodger fans, who continue to boo, mock and rant and rave on social media about the Astros and call them cheaters at every opportunity.
Before the scandal, the Astros and Dodgers were good rivals back in the National League days, with some exciting games back in the 1980s. But the scandal has made that personal now, and until the Astros can beat the Dodgers without any technological help, the hate from southern California for them will always be there.
But at the end of the day, the main reason for the hatred of the Houston Astros is because despite the team’s scandal, the losses of key players like George Springer and Carlos Correa, and how hard it is to stay consistently good in baseball over the years, the team has kept winning.
And if it can beat the Phillies to win a World Series title without controversy, it can win back some of the respect it lost over the years and maybe be a little less hated.