In the bottom of the 1st with George Springer on base and the injured Jose Altuve at bat, the hand of Charlie Morton put the Astros down 2-0 early. Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox throws a 91 mph four seam fastball, just outside the zone. As the ball comes off of Altuve’s bat and whips across to left field, everyone in section 134 is anxiously waiting, including me, where the balls trajectory will land.
From where I was standing the ball didn’t look like it had enough force to leave the ballpark. As I saw Mookie Betts, possibly the best right fielder in all of baseball try and go for a memorable catch I’m thinking to myself, “there’s no way he catches this.” From my viewpoint it looked like the ball hit the wall and bounced back into the field of play.
This is THAT play. The play that will be replayed over and over again in slo-mo for the rest of the year. But in every shot, that ball was gone. However, Joe West the chief of officiating, who has called more postseason games than anyone, called Altuve out. Bottomline is, there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the initial call, which was fan interference. Everytime, that call will penalize the hitter.
As the boos rang through the stadium and the hecklers started going at it, I could already see the Astros A.J. Hinch calmly express his opinion on the whole situation. There’s no reason to, yell like a maniac and risk getting ejected in the 1st inning. Hinch realized the situation and kept his composure flawlessly. The Red Sox however, got away with highway robbery.
In a stroke of luck, Betts returned to his position and grinned menacingly, knowing how fortunate he was. The city of Houston came down on Joe West like a bunch of hawks. In the moment, I joined in the insults. We all knew pointing fingers at one man and putting all our blame towards the official was childish but despite that, it seemed, in the heat of it he was a convenient scapegoat.
After all of the excitement died down and I got home after a miserable loss, all I could see in my dreams were four pairs of arms and Mookie Betts run through my mind.
To me this is blasphemy. The ball was out of reach of Betts even if the fans weren’t present. Betts’ main argument was the fan closed his glove, but there is no way that was the case. Betts voluntarily closed his glove and is lucky the call ruled in his favor.
Again, there is no solace in moping over a lost call. There was plenty of baseball to be played and a lot of errors that could have been prevented. I’m talking about you Martin Maldonado.
But, I digress.
If Joe West saw fan interference there is no disputing that. No matter how much we wanna argue and assume otherwise. Instead of dwelling in the past and fantasizing different scenarios, Astros fans everywhere should come together and stand behind this electrifying team. And especially, we should stand behind our pitching core.
Even though the whole eight-handed incident alarmingly resembles the Steve Bartman fiasco, we need to move on and not follow in the Cubs’ footsteps. The Astros have the best offense in all of baseball and next year we need to build upon our pitching core. Next year we need to focus on luring better relief pitchers. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jeurys Familia in an Astros jersey. Die hard fans can never really count the Astros out: even if Joe West thinks otherwise.