The Astros had a wildly successful Opening Day last night, save for the minor detail of not winning the game. Tonight is obviously not a "must win" game in the long 162 game season. That phrase is thrown about in sports too often, and the reality is that game 2 counts exactly the same as game 162. But the Astros, possibly more than any other team in MLB, cannot afford to get off to a slow start. They absolutely need to win tonight and/or throw at least 3 wins together on this home stand to begin the year. Why? Well, if you're reading this blog you're probably a die hard Astros fan who is excited about the new ownership and future no matter what happens on this home stand, but look around you. A LOT of those "fans" who packed MMP last night don't understand a double switch, let alone the intricacies of a rebuilding process. New ownership will need more to hang their hat on when the second home stand begins than just $5 beers and bringing your own peanuts to the game. The crowds will return when they start to see the fruits of the rebuilding process on the field, but it would be great for this franchise, under new ownership, to generate some early excitement about a competitive ball club that can carry throughout the long summer.
Let's be honest too, if the Astros were to begin the year 0-5, the idiots in the media would be circling like sharks. You know the ones, they cracked ridiculous jokes about the Astros in their season previews. They've already started with the, "Astros are on pace to go 0-162" jokes. They are looking for ANY reason to flex their humor muscles at the expense of our hometown 9. Personally, I think a good start could be extremely valuable for this young team. Getting some positive media, and a boost in support from the fans could go a long way toward expediting this rebuilding process we have begun.
Is game 2 a "must win"? Of course not. But if this team struggles to get out of the gate the effects WILL be felt. The bandwagon fans will hop off, and the Houston-bashing media (sometimes the most brutal are the local ones who should have our back) will pounce. I'll be there for all 162 games like every season, and I'm sure if you're reading this you will too, but there are a lot of fans who will turn on this team quickly. Here's hoping a strong rest of the home stand will kick start a new era of Houston baseball. Despite the result, last night was a great hint at how this city can become a terrific baseball town. Go Astros!