My Year with the Houston Astros: Part 1

Elimination number: N/A

When I encounter new people, sometimes the subject of me being a baseball fan is breached. They inevitably ask me if I’m a Twins fan. I say I am, partly because it’s true and partly because small talk greatly increases my social anxiety symptoms. There was a time when I strayed away from baseball — this is probably more suited for another post — but suffice it to say that when I did come back, the Twins were a big part of it. When I returned, I returned with vigor and considered the Cheap Seats (capitalized because that was the actual name of the section) at the Metrodome my second home for years.

But part of my reintroduction was to make sure I paid attention to everything going on. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything, regardless of team. This is something I still hold on to. I care about the Twins, but I’m a fan of the sport. It was a part of my starting over, and it remains with me.

Starting over is a plot point for countless books, movies, and TV shows. A character wants to be rid of their current situation and works to change it. The character’s past usually catches up with them before the end, despite their best efforts. This is common in fiction because it holds true in our world. It’s incredibly difficult to leave your past behind. It lingers. It haunts.

The 2013 Houston Astros are trying to shake off their past — a past that includes seven managers in the past ten years. They are, for all intents and purposes, starting over. They are taking a brand new approach to building a good team, and are seemingly comfortable with the ends justifying the means. And they are getting crapped on. Jokes upon overused jokes are slung at the Astros, and because the team is probably going to lose a lot of games, those jokes will seem justified on the surface. But they’re not. We educated folk know that while the Astros are bad now, they are going to get better, maybe even sooner than we think.

The term “rebuilding” is bandied about quite a bit, but carries different meanings. The Twins are going to stink, and people label them as rebuilding. But their version is much different (and to me, worse) than the Astros’. I won’t break down the specifics, but the Astros have dedicated themselves to blowing it all up and starting with a clean slate, while the Twins look to piecemeal a transition team together while forfeiting future wins in the hope of not losing 100 games this season. The Twins are letting their past haunt them. The Astros have already bought a used passport on the Internet, dyed their hair, and gotten a job working for a scrap yard that pays cash.

What the Astros are doing, both from a baseball and philosophical standpoint, interest me a great deal — their approach, their willingness to be quite terrible, their confidence in that success will come soon. I don’t want to only be aware of them once they turn the corner. It’s that hallway leading up to that corner that interests me. It’s a dark, scary hallway. But much of life is lived in those hallways. There are only so many corners. How you get there is what matters.

So I’m proclaiming that this season, I’m going to follow the Houston Astros. I’m going to watch their games, I’m going to learn about their farm system and coaching staff, and I will follow their progression with a fairly intense attitude. For all intents and purposes, I’m going to be an Astros fan, I guess.

I will be using this space to periodically chronicle my adventures in this new-found territory. I hope the present and future reader will find value in it — seeing how the other half lives.

I’m not sure where this will take me, but I will promise to see it through this season. It will be rough. I will still keep up with the Twins — catch a few games here and there, read the blogs, listen to the podcasts. The Twins are still important to me for many reasons. But something is happening in Houston, and I want to be part of it. Wins are all fine and good, but this season, for me, will be about starting over. I wasn’t part of Houston’s past, but I will be watching as they build a new future.

David G. Temple is the Managing Editor of TechGraphs and a contributor to FanGraphs, NotGraphs and The Hardball Times. He hosts the award-eligible podcast Stealing Home. Dayn Perry once called him a "Bible Made of Lasers." Follow him on Twitter @davidgtemple.

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11 years ago

This looks like one of the most fun projects I’ve heard of someone embarking on. You’re going to enjoy yourself, and you’re going to end up as a Lastros fan for life! As a die-hard Pirates fan, I hope they do a better job of rebuilding than my franchise has…