When the Houston Astros finished two loads of laundry (Sox of White, then Red), their admission to the World Series was met by a collective “ugh” across the baseball-watching nation. Apparently, two years—one with booing fans & inflatable trash cans—is not enough time to emerge from the stink of a sign-stealing cheating scandal. For most non-South Texas dwellers, the ‘Stros were the last team anyone wanted to see battle for the Commissioner’s Trophy.
By some token, one might think this would depress interesting in the Fall Classic. But I beg to differ. Why? Because in lieu of rooting for a clear hero, cheering against the villain may be just as satisfying.
Throughout the history of drama, the trope of “protagonist vs. antagonist” reigns supreme (with the exception of Hulk Hogan battling the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI). For every Odysseus there’s a Poseidon; every Frodo Baggins an Eye of Sauron. Rocky Balboa & Luke Skywalker may be the ultimate cinematic heroes, but what are they without Ivan Drago & Darth Vader?
In the exact words of a noted pirate scoundrel and chief Pan antagonist...
Baseball is no different. From a couch, bar, or stadium seat, it is strictly drama. When the Red Sox were perpetuating their 2004 heroics, an argument could be made that neutral fans were rooting as much against the Yankees as for the BoSox. Ironically, back in 2017 most everyone wanted Houston to topple the big (market) bad LA Dodgers. Right now, the Braves of Freeman, Albies, Acuna (injured, sadly), & Rosario vintage are relatively easy to root for. But when they were the ubiquitous TBS Superstation behemoth, everyone wanted the Mets to knock them off.
Suffice it to say, the perceptions of heroism and villainy are often shifting sands. But they are always in play.
That brings us to the present moment, when—to quote Lex Luthor of Smallville fame—the Astros are without a doubt the villain of the story. Lament their inclusion in the World Series, sure. But it gives us all another reason to tune in.
How will you be watching the 2021 World Series?
This poll is closed
Rooting FOR the Braves
Rooting AGAINST the Astros
Mainly just watching because it’s the last dose of baseball for 5 months