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Cut 4 says the Astros are the team you love to hate.....Only if you’re already a hater.

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Are the Astros really “haters” and “villains?”

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

According to Cut 4, The Astros are the new team to hate.

On August 1st, an MLB publication, Cut 4, proclaimed that the Yankees, after about 100 years as America’s official team to hate, have abdicated their throne to the new kings of contemptible. There’s a fresh set of bad boys in baseball today, so says Chris Landers, an upstart dynasty of arrogance and conceit. America, you are hereby officially invited to the coronation. Transfer your rage to the current royal family of “obnoxiousness,” the odious and repugnant Houston Astros.

The king is dead. Long live the king.

This is the headline from Cut 4’s article about the Astros:

The Astros aren’t just here to win -- they’re here to be the new Yankees, the team you love to hate.

Here is the accompanying picture. Read the article HERE

Notice the snarling faces, the looming, demonic presence of our normally lovable Orbit mascot in the background. Notice that each Astro has glowing red eyes, a sure sign of satanic possession. Why didn’t they just make a gif of Bregman’s head spinning in circles, spewing green vomit?

Author Chris Landers, who writes mostly about the Yankees, claims the Yanks have abdicated their claim to being baseball’s bad boys; they’re just too nice.

“Where’s the pettiness..the unrepentant trash talk?...It’s in Houston, home of the next great villains in American sports.”

And the evidence that the Astros are the new bad boys of baseball?

The team slogan is “Take it Back.” There’s a picture of Orbit siting on The throne in Minute Maid with a sword. And Alex Bregman is an occasional troll on Twitter, predicting more championships, and after hitting a home run, he posed for the cameras and said, “we’re back.”

Outrageous.

For these transgressions, Landers advises, “never forgive...tip your hat to the haters. Every story demands (obnoxious) villains.”

Meanwhile, all the Yankees want to do, guys like mild-mannered Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius, is learn how to play the piano and support local stand-up comics. How can these puff balls possibly win?

Oh yeah, those nasty Astros were really happy when they heard they got a new pitcher. I mean, giddy happy. Bad. Bad. Bad. Gerrit Cole smirked when he heard about it. He became so ecstatic he even “drooled.” Bad Gerrit. Hate Gerrit. Hate Bregman. These men are villains.

Chris Landers, I invite you to depart your Bizarro World of fake news. Let me introduce you to the real Astros.

When you look at the core of this team, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, you find, yes, they want to win. Yes, they are driven. But not from pettiness or arrogance or spite. They are driven because they have known the depths. They have come from the depths. They are humble people, and it is evident to anyone with eyes willing to see that they play with a love and a joy and an innocence that comes from having experienced those depths.

Let’s start with Jose Altuve, longest standing team member, future Hall of Famer.

Surely, Mr Landers, you know the story of how Jose Altuve, young Venezuelan, was rejected by the Astros when he came to their tryout because he was too small. They told him to go home, but he came back the second day, and he impressed someone enough to get a contract and a small bonus. Seven other teams had already rejected him. Here’s a picture of the player the Astros signed.

Growing up he was too poor to afford baseballs. When the one ball he had got lost, he would have to fetch another one that went foul at the local minor league ballpark. In the meantime, he learned to hit by playing stick ball swinging at bottle caps. Here’s what that looked like.

In his first pro-league in Venezuela, the opposing players called him “el enamo,” the midget. For a little while anyway. Because while his opponents trash talked small young Jose, he was on the fast track to the Big Leagues.

If you look at the team leader of the Astros and his life ever since, is there anything that he has ever done or said that would give you to believe that this man is some kind of villain, someone who should be hated?

Frankly, I don’t think you could find a sweeter person.

Except maybe this one.

Yes, that’s him. If Jose Altuve is the soul of the Astros, George Springer is their beating heart.

A young man of mixed African-American, Puerto Rican heritage, although Springer grew up in relative affluence, his naturally effervescent personality and joy were crushed by one thing; his stuttering. Not his stuttering really, but how his peers abused him for it, and made him want to crawl inside and hide from the world because of it.

But he could still play baseball, and that’s where he could express his natural inner joy. You can still see it today. That’s where he learned to win, not just in the game, but against the haters who tried to crush his spirit. His joyous spirit won, the haters lost.

Even though he is and forever will be the 2017 World Series MVP, George has never forgotten where he came from. When he is not playing baseball, he is helping children struggling to overcome the disability that he has conquered through his SAY foundation.

Here is an example of how this hateful man has impacted the lives of others. This from far-away Los Angeles, California.

Is this man, another team leader of the Astros, really some sort of hater? Does this man look like the one on the cover of Cut 4? Why would you say this man and his friends are “haters”?

Then there’s Carlos Correa, who looks like some mythical voodoo chief giving the evil eye in the Cut 4 picture. (Wrong island, dudes. Correa is from Puerto Rico, not Haiti)

Carlos Correa told his parents at age five he would play in the major leagues some day, and at age 8, he told them he had to learn English if he was going to really make it in the States. So his mother opened a market, and his father took on three jobs, and little Carlos tagged along so that they would have enough money to send him to the baseball academy. After dark, he made his father throw him batting practice, or whenever there was a chance, hit him ground balls by tree roots. He would sometimes go to school with black eyes, but that’s what you do to become a better fielder, right?

He graduated valedictorian with a 1560 SAT, while excelling at baseball enough to be a #1 overall pick. While almost all Puerto Rican prospects spend their senior years in America to attract scouts’ attention, Carlos stayed put. He wanted the scouts to come to him, so that they would notice some of the other fine young players on the island that he was playing with.

He’s never forgotten where he came from.

“I don’t big league any people out here… It’s about not only being a good baseball player but a good person as well.” — Carlos Correa.

What a villain.

And who can ever forget this dastardly deed.

He musta put the voodoo spell on Daniella.

Yes these players work hard. Yes they intend to win. They have dedicated their whole lives to pushing themselves even beyond their natural abilities, because it’s in their character to do so. Is that obnoxious?

The three above are Kings of Hearts. Others on the team, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Michael Brantley, are simply hard working, consummate professionals. They do their jobs, quietly, methodically, and they do them very well. It doesn’t make them, or the team in general, contemptible, or petty, or obnoxious.

Okay, I’ve left off Bregman. Saved him for last.

This team needs Alex Bregman, precisely because at their core most of these players really are TOO sweet-hearted. There has to be one street fighter on the team, and that’s Alex Bregman. But to call the Astros, the whole team, “haters,” or “obnoxious,” because Alex Bregman puts out humorous, mischievous little tweets now and then, or likes to pose for the camera after a home run, is a ridiculous stretch. Really, if this is the worst bad boy you can find on the Astros, they must be a bunch of choir boys.

Truth is, Alex Bregman is another great Astro who should be admired. His work ethic and utter dedication are something everyone should aspire to... except maybe he’s TOO obsessive. As a little kid he wore a hole through a cinder block wall because he played catch against it so much. At LSU they had to give Alex special access to the batting cages because he was always taking batting practice after midnight. I could go on and on.

Yes, Alex Bregman plays to win. Like this.

Or this.

Since when did that make a player obnoxious? Since when did wanting to win multiple championships make you a hater? Since when did making your team better make your team a gang of villains?

But if you choose to believe that Alex Bregman is personally obnoxious because he tweets that the Astros are going to win multiple championships, if that is somehow bad form, consider this: It is often said that the true character of a person is revealed by his actions when no one is looking. This observation by an ordinary fan who had contact with Alex in his daily life shows the true character and pedigree of Alex Bregman.

Bregman catches breakfast occasionally at a local diner in my neighborhood, and I almost lost my sh*t when I first saw him there. I excitedly told my kids that the young man sitting in that booth was Alex Bregman. This was last year in late May. I told my kids to go over and say hi and ask for an autograph. He was sitting with 3 friends and enjoying his day off, but he was willing to accommodate my 9 and 6 year old. He told them to sit down and proceeded to just clown around with them. They talked various topics, mainly phone video games like clash of clans, and was just perfect with my little guys. After about 15 minutes, I felt like my kids had taken up enough of his time, but he wasn’t put off, he was enjoying it. He made my kids feel special and sent them off smiling.
My kids finally fell in love with the Astros that day, maybe if it was just Bregs. He was so cool, much nicer than he needed to be. I am so happy for this fine young man and I wish him all the success in the world. He may be cocky on the field (he backs it up) but he’s nothing but a true gentleman off of it. He still remembers (or at least pretends) my kids whenever we run into him at the diner, and it makes their year.

Yes, the character of a man and a team is revealed by their actions. When the Angels recently went head-hunting against Jake Marisnick a few weeks ago, the Astros emptied their dugout and bullpen in their comrade’s defense. Oh wait, it was the Angels that cleared their dugouts, and at the urging of Jake Marisnick, the one who got hit, the Astros stayed in their dugout. They chose to back down and avoid a fight.

What a bunch of haters. More on that incident HERE

For a short ebook on the lives of the Astros core four, go HERE

Mr. Landers, why would you concoct such calumnies against these players? The only thing they have done to deserve the hate you want to provoke against them apparently is to have the audacity as professional athletes to be better than your favorite team. Why would a supposedly sophisticated writer for a national publication stoop to trying to convince America to hate this particular group of men?

Maybe the answer is simple. You hate them; why not get everyone else to join in?

How you do that is easy. By using the methods of propaganda employed from time immemorial. By de-humanizing the enemy. Show a picture of them as stone-cold devils. Highlight only the bad things they have ever done, although the paucity and weakness of the evidence you list says more than that which you actually said. Go ahead America, hate the Astros. They’re obnoxious and petty. Hate them because THEY are haters.

Mr. Landers, who is the real hater? I write for a small Houston fan blog, and we all love our team. We certainly have fun with our rivalries, but I would never encourage my readers, local though they be, to actually, literally, hate other teams or their players. Yet you have called upon all America to hate the Astros, and on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Please don’t try to say you were merely reporting a phenomenon. You were providing America the reasons they should hate the Astros. Yes, I caught the slight undertone of begrudging admiration. “It’s kinda good the Astros are haters. It’s what makes them good. Now hate them back.” No, I’m not buying.

Yes, I know that in the context of sports writing, hate is a figure of speech. It doesn’t actually mean cross-burnings or pogroms. Regardless, what you suggest is still ugly and unwarranted.

Were you having a bad day? Were you mad because the Astros got the prize of the trade deadline instead of your team? Maybe you just couldn’t think of another story that day and you thought this was a great idea.

Well, a story is just what you wrote, and like you said, a story needs a villain. The trouble is you had to make up the villain. This is just another deplorable, yet all too typical, example of modern journalism. Journalism run amok.

Let me suggest a more truthful headline: The Houston Astros, the most lovable team in baseball just became the best team in baseball. But who’d click on that?

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports