Here’s a headline we haven’t seen in awhile: the Houston Astros are division champs. They clinched the American League West over the weekend beating the Seattle Mariners. The Astros walked away with their first division title since 2001.
Hunter Atkins, an enterprise sports reporter for the Houston Chronicle who covers the Astros, says the team tanked in recent years, resulting in “three consecutive 100-loss years.”
In other words, the team purposely lost for several seasons in order to affordably draft the best talents – something that’s become very common in sports today.
“They had really bad players at the major league level. And the fastest way and most affordable way to get really good players is through the draft.” Atkins says. “And the only way to get really good draft picks is to lose a crap load of games.”
It’s no surprise that losing games means sacrificing money at the gate and possibly some fans. Atkins says that accepting losing in all realms is brave, because the team must be comfortable with being hated.
Atkins believes sports is always tied into essential issues of the community, sometimes it’s powerful enough to change the mood of a city. He grew up in New York City, and after 9/11, the Yankees and Mets gave hope to the city.
Harvey’s aftermath prompted the Astros to take action. They’ve continuously dedicated themselves to helping their community by donating goods and money. However, Atkins says baseball doesn’t act as a cure-all for the destruction in Houston. Possibly because Houston isn’t fundamentally a baseball town, after all, football will always reign supreme in Texas, especially in Houston.
Written by Dani Matias.