I realized it over the weekend. This may have been the worst season ever to be a Houston Astros fan. Let's run through the lowlights:
- Worst record in team history
- Worst record in baseball by a good margin
- Trading away two of the most marketable, likeable stars on the team
- A mess of an ownership situation that's no closer to resolving itself
- A possible switch to the American League
- Lance Berkman signing with the Cardinals
- The Cardinals winning the World Series
The only thing that could have made it worse is if George Springer decided not to sign and went to play independent ball.
At the same time, there is still a ton of interest in the team. We have more and more comments on this site and continue to set traffic records even as the team plummeted into the depths of mediocrity.
Why is that? Isn't it counter-intuitive that a team like the Astros should continue to see fan interest? What makes you root for the Astros?
When Greg Lucas wrote about not hating the Cardinals (h/t to Astros County), I understood his premise even while rejecting it out of hand. You can make all the reasoned arguments you like, but it won't affect a fan's feelings toward a team. That includes any rivalries with teams you play on a regular basis. The Cardinals and Astros have played for too long with too much animosity to just be happy for them. I don't like the Rangers, but I was still hoping they'd beat St. Louis.
That's not why I'm an Astros fan, but it's part of the picture. Over the past week, I had three different people comment on the Astros in a negative way. Twice, they called me out for wearing an Astros hat and the other time, someone made a backhanded remark about hoping the Rangers could win and how at least it was nice they hadn't been swept like the Astros in the World Series.
Did those comments keep me from wearing my Astros hat? No.
Fandom is irrational. It transcends geography sometimes, while sometimes being based soley on geography (see: Dallas v. Houston). It's based on things like getting a hat at some crucial time in your development, on playing a video game with a certain team or just following the team your parents did.
Sometimes, that fandom latches onto a single player, which then poses a problem when said player is traded to Philadelphia. Other times, it's rooted in history going back decades and is filled with fond memories of obscure games, both attended and watched or listened to.
If we ask you to put your story of why you're an Astros fan in the comments, I bet we'd get a different story every time. And yet, I bet we could understand and relate to all of them. In every story, there is a ring of familiarity.
After a season like this one, we all could use a reminder of why we follow this crazy team. It's going to get easier before it gets harder, but at least you can take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. There are plenty of us who are just as crazy about this team as you.