What was substantively a nontroversy predictably wound up being one of this past weekend’s bigger stories in baseball. All four members of the Astros who were chosen to participate in the All-Star Game — José Altuve, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley and Ryan Pressly — have opted not to.
Houston’s quartet would have been jeered for appearing in the Midsummer Classic — even Brantley and Pressly, who weren’t on the 2017 team that illegally stole signs. Now that they have removed themselves from the equation, the criticism they’ve subsequently received has highlighted the industry’s unrelenting contempt for the controversial 2017 World Series champions.
Despite the fact that each player gave a legitimate reason for sitting out — Altuve and Brantley are nursing injuries and Pressly and Correa are soon to become fathers — various national media members and outlets chose to view the players’ decisions through lenses that range from glaringly odious to needlessly cynical.
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, who were both on the 2017 Houston Astros, will not be attending their first All-Star Game since news of the team's cheating scandal broke.— The Big Lead (@TheBigLead) July 8, 2021
Incredible coincidence. https://t.co/OjznX5guJJ
The Big Lead is mostly comprised of wannabe Hot Take Artists, so this is par for the course.
“Children are a great way to get out of social engagements you don’t want to attend.”
Opening an article with a sentence such as that one regarding a player’s unborn child tells you all you need to know about the quality of writing at TBL.
To be fair, Deadspin is not even a shell of what it once was, and the fact that its Twitter account still boasts a following of nearly 900,000 users is a miracle in itself. The once-revered website that routinely took ESPN to task for much of the previous decade is many years removed from its pinnacle and is now evidently reliant on provocative headlines.
As low as their current standards are, their audience still looks to be sizable, so shamelessly peddling a ridiculous narrative is lazy and irresponsible.
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are both skipping the all-star game. Both were in the middle of the Astros sign stealing scandal. Interesting turn of events. https://t.co/AsE060goaB— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) July 8, 2021
This is where the mocking criticism becomes more subtle, albeit still petty. Molly Knight is a senior staff writer for The Athletic and is a well-known Dodgers fan. Anyone who is familiar with Knight and her tweets needs no introduction as to how she feels about the Astros.
It’s natural for her to resent the organization’s players given their recent history with the Dodgers, but it is still somewhat surprising to see a national writer of her stature take a low-key swipe at Altuve and Correa in this context, one where Correa has understandably chosen to spend time with his pregnant wife instead of playing in a meaningless game.
Knight’s snide implication is rather beneath someone who’s employed by a respected journalistic outlet.
ESPN’s Buster Olney managed to deliver what could be the most pretentious remark of the weekend’s inane outrage. Altuve is skipping the All-Star Game in order to rest his injured left leg, which is apparently unacceptable.
The Astros’ second baseman has played through the injury and has run well in spite of it. Still, Olney, a reporter, thought it was fair to slyly make a quip about the injury by iterating Altuve’s unchanged speed, as if to say the seven-time All-Star is faking an injury simply to weasel out of going to Denver. In a vacuum, the tweet itself is defensible — Olney’s just making an observation — but the subtext is transparent. This impractical thought reinforces it:
Astros players were always going to be relentlessly heckled by opposing fans and constantly chastised by partial writers. Opting out of the All-Star Game for valid personal reasons isn’t going to deter any of those people. In this particular case, however, it wasn’t expected that national reporters would be among them. It’s a prime example of how the widespread anti-Astros hysteria has manifested seemingly inherent prejudice in the minds of those who many consider to be fair and objective.