An unexpected journey to the far reaches of the Middle America(n League) in search of a dastardly villain we can all get behind disliking.
Once upon a time, there was a plucky little baseball player named Derek Jeter. Back in 1996, Jeter was just leading his team, the storied New York Yankees, back to glory.
Through the lens of SportsCenter, these Yankees captured national attention as they ran all the way to the World Series and toppled the mighty Braves to capture the crown.
But, as soon as all that adulation began in this new Yankees dynasty, a dark cloud descended over the team. Rising payroll and a decade of dominance perverted the once upstart team into the biggest ogre in the kingdom. Good Mr. Jeter became as polarizing a figure as ever before, becoming transformed into Cap'n Jetes and almost ascending into the heavens bodily.
With this cloud of disgust ringing the team everywhere but New York, the Houston Astros discovered a new foe. Interleague play was new and exciting and the Astros journeyed into the heart of the desolation of Steinbrenner in 2003.
That's when the Astros struck a blow for all of baseball, throwing an improbable six-pitcher no-hitter at said Yankees, humbling the beast in its home territory.
Thus began the AL Wars, which the Astros grappled with for the next ten years, falling to a Black hearted team from Chicago in 2005 and seeing that dark cloud block out any memories of a great 2004 NLCS battle with the equally nefarious Cardinals.
Things shifted in 2013.
No longer were the Yankees some problem for the others of Middle America(n League), for the Great Eye of Cashman turned itself on Houston's Helm's Deep (MMP).
The Astros were forced into an ongoing conflict for the heart of the League, forced to battle the Yankees on their own turf permanently.
The first such struggle took place in Kissimmee on an unassuming day in February.
Sweet, kind, sturdy Sam Demel was smote by the Evil Melky Mesa as the Yanks took a commanding 5-1 lead in the fifth.
That's when Houston found its hero in the unlikeliest of places. A former Yankee himself, Brandon Laird belted one all the way back through that cloud of haze and evil, hitting a grand slam to give Houston the lead in the bottom of the sixth.
It was a small step in an ultimately meaningless battle. But, by holding off the Yankee hordes, maybe Houston saw the turning point in the war.
For years, Houston fans could dislike the Yankees for that incessant cloud hanging over them, but it was irrational. What did the Yankees do to the Astros? They weren't in the same league!
Now, that excuse has been ripped away. The veil has been torn. Now, it's okay for Houston fans to dislike, nay, hate the Yankees in a totally rational, socially acceptable way.
Maybe this move to the AL has its bright sides after all.