Houston Astros: Why the asterisk argument for titles remains controversial

The Houston Astros, as well as the rest of the local sports franchises, continue to be disrespected with an asterisk to their accomplishments. What’s wrong?

Houston Astros fans, as well as all of the sports here in H-Town, this is a subject that I will probably dread talking about because it angers me inside. It’s a subject that I’ve tried to avoid at all costs even during this pandemic crisis. It’s a subject that we are obviously familiar with and have been dealt with in the past. It’s something that should be a positive, but instead has been used to refer to a negative, especially for the Houston Astros.

It’s the asterisk.

Wikipedia refers to it as being a way to call it out as a footnote. But recently, it’s being used as a way to taint the accomplishments of a team in terms of record, championships, and other uses. The most iconic cases of the asterisk include Roger Maris 61st homer, which was given because Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record after the 154th game in 1961, a standard season then. It’s been used in the iconic home run race of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 and most recently, Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron’s record while dealing with allegations of steroid use.

Asterisks have been used negatively recently and I’m sorry to say, it’s been passed down to a particular group of individuals we know all too well by some circles. But here’s where the asterisk becomes an issue. In circumstances beyond our control are some people referring to an asterisk. It’s been a subject that’s been brought up even while the sports world is dealing with COVID-19.

Pulse check

Shaquille O’Neal was recently interviewed and he believes the NBA should just scrap the season and move on to next year. This is something I think could be a possibility. However, he gives another reason, which I think is ridiculous. He feels that if the NBA continues the season, whoever is crowned the champion will get an asterisk because the full season wasn’t played.

This has led to a discussion on ESPN’sThe Jump:

Now, I don’t agree with Rachel all too often on certain subjects, but she wins the argument right here. Teams deal with injuries, officiating, and other controversial issues that can lead to title wins. Tracy McGrady gets a win here because he does believe the NBA is pretty evened out. Even with star-studded teams like the Lakers, Bucks, and Clippers as the front runners, the rest of the league is pretty even. It’s not Golden State and everyone else at least for this season. Then, Richard Jefferson gets a win. While I hate him bringing up the Houston Astros’ situation, I do agree. NO ASTERISK ALLOWED!

Of course, tell that to our general manager Daryl Morey.

I can’t decide whether he’s being silly or if he is trying to be sarcastic here. But, this is not a good look. The fact is right now, Houston is dealing with a variety of issues. The Houston Astros are on the heels of a baseball season that has yet to be played and a team that is looking to redeem themselves in the midst of a scandal, which they were immature enough to get involved in.

We have an NFL team trying to get a deeper playoff run while having management making questionable moves. And then, there are the Rockets, who are trying to get to the championship while dealing with other teams. As of now, all sports are on a stall, which is making me frustrated and reaching a breaking point of trying to not talk about this subject.

The significance of the asterisk

Let me explain how I feel on asterisks. Asterisks should be positive. They should be used like an outlier, which is the title of a book by Malcolm Gladwell by the way. They should indicate how special or how incredible the achievement was. They shouldn’t be negative as if to diminish a team’s achievement. Look, I don’t care if a team cheats or if there’s an injury or sudden retirement involved. No team, regardless of how popular they are or not, deserves an asterisk.

In the NBA, the Rockets have that label for sure because they won titles due to 1.5 years of Michael Jordan’s retirement. Is it their fault MJ retired? The same would be said if another team in 1994 won it all.  The 1999 San Antonio Spurs also have had their title marked with an asterisk because of a lockout or because the Bulls’ run ended probably early. Is it their fault the NBA couldn’t get a deal done or the Bulls broke up the team?

Houston has won three titles that we will cherish to a degree even if it came with a dent that will take a long time to heal. But fair or unfair, that dreaded asterisk hangs on each of them and it shouldn’t. Now, you can criticize and hate the actions of the recent Houston title holders. But don’t blame them for taking two games in LA.

Houston Astros’ faithful — don’t blame them for the Dodgers leaving eight-plus men on base in Game 7 at Dodger Stadium. Don’t blame them for the Dodgers’ star players not contributing as they did in the previous playoff series and their stud first baseman striking out 16 times. Oh, and don’t blame them for the next year’s title holders for doing something similar even if it wasn’t to the extreme.

Then, you have the Rockets. Don’t blame them for Scottie Pippen sitting out in a critical playoff game in 1994. Don’t blame them for the Knicks beating the Bulls in ’94 and the Magic for beating the Bulls in ’95 with MJ on their team. Don’t blame them for playing a Bulls’ team that won one game in between 1991-93. I get that Houston isn’t the most popular city in the country in terms of sports markets, but if Minneapolis, San Diego, or Buffalo win a championship, you might want to think about making room for them in your so-called asterisk club.

Settling the score

My opinion is that an asterisk is given out by people who believe the team isn’t on their interest list and try to find ways to diminish achievements. You have to admit that 33 percent of Houston’s titles can have an argument, but the other 67 percent shouldn’t. An asterisk sucks and is just worthless.

I know this because I used to think Barry Bonds deserved the asterisk. But when I think back to my feelings, I realized I was just bitter that Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record and that’s not right. You don’t have to like it, but trying to erase history just makes you look bad because you’re not satisfied with the result and there is no complete satisfaction.

This is why I’m angry talking about this. I’m still angry at the Houston Astros over the scandal and I

am saying it now. When the season does start, I want no other result except another World Series title. So that way, they can show that we can win without cheating. They got close in 2019 and it still angers me that we lost.

The Houston Astros acquired Dusty Baker as a manager who has not won a title and he is taking over a team that might be his most talented. He deserves a ring as a manager and I hope he gets it with us. But if they don’t, our legacy is hurt and it’s going to take another group of players on the Houston Astros that will get another ring for us, which it will happen. Yet, when will it happen?

The same goes for the Rockets and the Texans. We’ve waited 25 years since our last title in the NBA. Houston has a great shot to win it all, but they shouldn’t be given an asterisk if they do because the virus wasn’t their fault nor any others. We’re still waiting for a Super Bowl. The Texans are doing all they can, but it hasn’t been rewarding yet.

Epilogue

Now, we might be like outcasts in a high school movie and cities like Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago are like the popular kids, the jocks, the queen bees, and the bullies. We know how most of those movies end up. The outcasts typically win. We as fans know Houston can win. Yet, the teams have to solve their issues.

These are trying times right now and I know I just went on a rant. But I won’t lie. I’m scared of the uncertainty. Will this virus end? When will this virus end? Will Houston win another championship? When will Houston win another championship? Will it have an unfair asterisk like the other three? Will it be right for once? I don’t know. All I know is that we’re going to get another title and it will be magical.

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But as far as the whole talk of the asterisk is concerned, you have one of two options to choose from. Either make the asterisk positive and draw it with a red rocket, a Texas-flagged bull, or a blue star surrounded by orange with a white star to make it look cool. Or, you don’t give it out.