In 2021, the Astros won’t face easy circumstances. They won’t have George Springer anymore, they’ll play without Justin Verlander in the final year of his contract, and will have Carlos Correa, Zack Greinke, and Lance McCullers Jr. playing in their walk year.
But those are things every team goes through sometimes. What the Astros can’t allow themselves to worry about is the sign-stealing scandal that needs to be part of the past.
Players, front office, fans, and coaching staff need to understand that subject is behind the team, especially players.
Even though the scandal might still be on some other teams’ minds, the Astros can’t take that to the field. It’s time to forget all about that and just play. I know it was bad, it was inappropriate, but it’s behind us already.
It’s time for José Altuve, for example, to relax and do what he does best: step up to the plate and hit without thinking all the time he’ll get plunked. This guy, who won the MVP Award in 2017 and has won three batting titles, wasn’t okay last year and there’s no way I can blame players’ poor preparation for that. Of course, I blame the scandal, the intimidation, and the guilt Altuve was carrying on his shoulders. (Even though he did not participate in the cheating)
It’s also time for Yuli Gurriel to concentrate on just playing, to be the kind of hitter we all know he is. Probably, without Springer and Josh Reddick, the Astros will need him this year more than ever before.
The same will be happening with Carlos Correa, whose leadership kept pushing the team in ‘20, won’t stop in ‘21, and needs to be retained beyond this year.
But here’s the thing... They can’t lose what made the team almost unstoppable in the playoffs last year: that energy boost, that inspiration that came from rage and from the desire of proving to everyone they were real.
In fact, if I could take something from last year to repeat it in 2021, it’d be this feeling of “everyone is against us, so we need to overcome this as the team we know we are.”
It’s time to move on and be the Astros’ team everyone has seen for the past years. At the end of the day, Houston still has an enviable squad that has tons of power from both sides of the plate, discipline, speed, good pitching, and a good young core to keep that contending window open for years. So now, more than ever, go Astros!