Not much good came from last year’s COVID-impacted MLB season, though you have to admit, the Astros, fresh off a very public sign-stealing scandal, dodged a bullet playing without fans in 2020. Of course, they couldn’t hide forever. This season’s return to normalcy has been a bitter pill to swallow for Houston with fans, eager to spew their rage after a year in COVID-induced hibernation, relentlessly heckling the disgraced Astros wherever they go. That includes Fenway Park, a notoriously unforgiving atmosphere for opposing players, where the Astros have spent the past three days playing the Boston Red Sox.
One precocious fan summoned Astros All-Star Alex Bregman for a photo op Wednesday night, only to pull the rug out from under him.
Bregman handled the encounter about as well as he could have, shrugging it off with a grin before heading back to his responsibilities at third base. It takes stones to call an athlete a “bum” to his face, but it seems the pandemic has emboldened spectators with numerous instances of fan misbehavior of late including a troubling incident at nearby TD Garden, where a Celtics supporter was arrested for hurling a half-full water bottle at Kyrie Irving.
Chirping an alleged cheater isn’t the same as trespassing or dumping a bucket of popcorn on an unsuspecting Russell Westbrook as one attendee did at a Sixers game recently (forfeiting his season tickets in the process), but it certainly doesn’t dispel the narrative that Boston fans are a more hostile breed than most. Jose Altuve also deserves credit for taking the high road, winning over his hecklers by gifting them a signed bat after the game.
Getting taunted on a nightly basis must get old, though the Astros haven’t flinched, embracing their villain status by winning 15 of their 28 games away from Minute Maid Park this season.