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The Astros saw garbage cans thrown on the field in Anaheim and heard loud boos in Oakland.
They’ll feel the wrath of Yankees fans for the first time since news of their illegal sign-stealing scandal broke, when they visit the Stadium on Tuesday in The Bronx.
“I don’t think there’s any question about how fans are gonna react to them coming into the Stadium,” Kyle Higashioka said following Sunday’s win. “Whether they deserve it, I think the fans will let them know.”
It’s been well over a year since Major League Baseball released its report on the investigation into the Astros’ cheating scheme that propelled them to the 2017 World Series title.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired and the organization was fined and lost draft picks, but the players escaped punishment thanks to the immunity given to them by MLB for their cooperation in the investigation.
So Yankees fans like Marc Chalpin will do their best to make them pay after missing out on the chance due to COVID restrictions and the division-only schedule last season.
“Like all Yankee fans, we’re angry,” said Chalpin, who sits in Section 203, among the Bleacher Creatures in right field. “That 2017 team was special, and they could have gone even further in the playoffs. I don’t know if they would have won it all, but to find out they didn’t make it because the Astros cheated makes it even worse. … Not only did they cheat, they didn’t get punished for it. They faced no consequences.”
Alex Bregman, one of four position players still on the team from 2017, was asked Sunday what he expected when the Astros get to The Bronx.
“Just to play baseball,” said Bregman, who, along with Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel, as well as pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., were in Houston in 2017 and are still there today. “We’ve got bigger things to worry about [than fans]. We’ve got to play good baseball. They’re a good team. Our job is to play baseball.”
Others acknowledged the reaction makes an impact.
“I feel like we’re getting booed anywhere we’re at, so I expect nothing different [Tuesday],” said Houston catcher Martin Maldonado, who wasn’t on the 2017 team, but was an Astro in 2019, when they also faced accusations of cheating. “We as a team, we love it. We enjoy it. I think it gets the best out of us.”
Chalpin said he’d be at the first two games of the series.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said. “We want them to know they’re a bunch of cheats and their ring means nothing.”
Since spring training, Aaron Boone has done his best to downplay the impact of what happened in 2017 and its aftermath on this season. That continued Sunday, when he was asked about the upcoming series.
“We need to play well and not get caught up in all that stuff,” said Boone, who took over for Joe Girardi, the manager who lost his job following that series.
And the players who remain from that 2017 team haven’t forgotten.
“I’m sure we all have a memory, so we remember what happened,” Brett Gardner said. “For us, the main thing is to play well against them and to beat them. That’s the ultimate form of trying to get back at them. … I’m sure it’ll be a good matchup, and they’ve got a good team this year. I’m sure it’ll be a fun series.”
Current Houston manager Dusty Baker pleaded with fans to take it easy on his team after Angels fans twice threw garbage cans on the field last month.
“I don’t know if anyone will be bringing in trash cans,” Chalpin said. “I don’t condone throwing things on the field. They’re gonna hear it. We use our mouths, not our arms. It’ll be nice to finally let it out.”
Given the history, an increase in security at the Stadium is expected for the series.
And with the Stadium at 20 percent capacity, Chalpin said, “We have to be five times as loud. What you’re gonna find is we’ll be a little bit louder and yell more often.”
“We have material,” Chalpin said. “They cheated.”
He’s also among those convinced the Astros cheated again in 2019, when there was a belief they wore electronic buzzers to be notified of the coming pitches — like when Altuve hit his walk-off homer against Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 of the ALCS to end the series.
That’s why the level of venom remains high.
“These guys are gonna be hearing it for a long time,” Chalpin said. “It’s gonna be years.”