Just before 5 p.m. a guy dressed up in a trash can with a “Trashtros,” jersey walked up 161st Street toward Jerome Avenue. The small gathering of Yankees fans outside, waiting for the gates to the Stadium to open cheered and high-fived him. It was the beginning of what would likely be a long three nights in the Bronx for the Astros.
Tuesday the Yankees — and their fans ― were seeing the Astros for the first time since their suspicions about them being cheaters were confirmed in a commissioner’s report on their illegal, electronic sign stealing. The Yankees, who lost to the Astros in the 2017 and 2019 American League Championship Series, were furious in spring 2020 that the Astros players went unpunished — for cooperation with the investigation — and that they had a tainted World Series title.
But, the Bombers tried to keep it professional. Before the game, Aaron Boone was trying to remind fans to keep it within the rules.
“It’s not my place to tell fans how to react. Look, I know, we have as passionate a fan bases there is in, in our sport. I’m sure they’re obviously aware of a very good team that’s coming into play. That’s not for me to get caught up in that. As long as things are in line and the safety of everyone, fans and players and people at the stadium is the most important thing,” the Yankees manager said. “They’re going to express themselves however they do. Our job is to go out there and to be ready and go out and try and play our best baseball against a very good team coming into play.”
But, it was pretty clear early on Tuesday that this wasn’t just a good series. This was something some fans had waited over a year for.
The Yankees’ two best chances of ending their World Series droughts over the past 11 years ended at the hands of the Astros. It has been documented they were cheating in 2017 and the Yankees will not be convinced they were not cheating in 2019.
And most people don’t think the Astros did pay for their cheating. The team was issued the maximum allowed fine of $5 million. The owner probably made most of that up when he fired GM Jeff Luhnow and Hinch, who both served a one-year suspension. The commissioner said that he didn’t think taking away the World Series “piece of metal,” (his term for the trophy) was meaningful. Altuve still edged out Judge for the MVP in 2017.
So far this year, fans around the league have expressed their animosity to the Astros. They have been yelled and screamed at. They have had fans banging on plastic containers, mocking how the Astros would relay the pitch coming to hitters in real time. They have even had blow-up garbage cans tossed on the field at them.
It began as soon as the gates opened to Yankee Stadium. and the Astros were on the field for batting practice. All around the outfield fans stood and yelled at the Astros. The booing was as loud as it has been all year when they recognized Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman.
“I’m sure we’re going to have some chaos,’' Astros outfielder Myles Straw told reporters last week. ”It’s nothing we haven’t heard this year. It’s going to be loud. But it seems like wherever a crowd is really loud and booing us, that’s when I feel like we play our best baseball. You can fire the boys up all you want. If they want to boo us, they can boo us.’'
Dusty Baker, who took over for Hinch, has pled through the media that fans and opposing teams put this behind them.
“It’s sad to me. People make mistakes. We paid for ours, and I wish they’d leave it alone,” Baker said last week.
But with the coronavirus pandemic having shortened the 2020 season, the Yankees never faced the Astros last year. Fans weren’t allowed in the ballparks, so this was their first chance to express themselves.