It doesn’t take a baseball savant to know there is a lot to like about the Houston Astros.
Behind Jeff Luhnow and Jim Crane, they have turned themselves from the league’s laughing stock into the organization the rest of the league strives to emulate.
In 2017 Justin Verlander was the missing piece to the organization’s first World Series title. On Sunday, he showed why he’s currently a runaway choice for the Cy Young headed into the final month of the season.
His third no-hitter further cemented his legacy as one of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen. That should be the headline everybody is talking about.
Unfortunately, there is still a cloud hanging over both the Astros and Verlander.
Quite honestly, the Astros and Verlander only have themselves to blame.
When the Tigers visited Houston a few weeks ago, Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech was denied access to the clubhouse for several minutes following the Astros’ ace’s complete game two-hitter (the Tigers coincidentally won the game 2-1).
Apparently Verlander and Fenech have some sort of history. Verlander explained Fenech’s behavior in his time with the Tigers as “unethical,” although he never really explained what was unethical about it.
If it was that unethical, then more people would know about it, but that’s not really the issue.
In news, we’re sure it is a shock to many that a lot of players don’t like the media. That’s nothing new.
What was new in this case was the fact Verlander asked the Astros’ staff to keep Fenech out of the clubhouse. They complied with the request, blocking him for a few minutes while the rest of the media was allowed to do their jobs.
In addition to being outright petty on the part of Verlander and the Astros, it was also a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Players and media don’t have to like each other, but they do have to tolerate each other.
If Fenech was allowed into the locker room and Verlander chose to ignore his questions, then the story would have likely ended right there. At the bare minimum, it would have ended with a scathing column in the Detroit Free Press.
Quite honestly, even that would have been quickly forgotten. Verlander is great at his job, and the Tigers are terrible. That’s just the way things work.
Even the most inflammatory article would have been written off simply as sour grapes from a team that has sunk to the depths of the MLB standings since Verlander’s departure.
Fair or not, that’s just the way it goes in the sports world.
Winning teams are praised and losing ones are seemingly irrelevant.
Instead the story is still lingering. And once again, the Astros only have themselves to blame.
Even though players may see them as a necessary evil, the necessary part is what should still stand out.
Playing the game of who’s worthy to enter the hallowed locker room after a game simply isn’t fair. If they’re credentialed, then they’re allowed in.
If they are legitimately “unethical” or unprofessional while there, they won’t be allowed back in.
Reporters are there to give the fans the information they need whether the players like that information or not.
A deserved fine is likely headed in the Astros’ direction. It’s one we’re sure they won’t mind paying either. They certainly have money to spare.
However, they should put measures in place to make sure there is no repeat.
With a few exceptions, the Astros are seen mainly as the “good guys” of the MLB, a fun-loving group that’s easy to cheer for.
Reporters want to be there when they bring home another title.
Instead this latest episode has made both Verlander and the organization seemed like spoiled brats.
Just let the media into the locker room. It isn’t that hard.
We’re ready to root for the Astros to win another World Series title.
Don’t make us hold our nose while we do it.