Despite a delayed start to the season and a lack of actual fans in the stands, fans are still finding ways to troll the Houston Astros.
It turns out, all it actually takes in 2020 is a cardboard cutout, some money, and a team willing to give its fans creative freedom.
One such team is the Oakland Athletics.
As many keen observers spotted during the A’s season opener against the Los Angeles Angels, a cutout featuring Astros’ mascot Orbit in a trash can — Oscar the Grouch style — is among those taking up real estate at the Oakland Coliseum.
The reference, of course, is to the Astros involvement in the sign-stealing scandal that rocked the league during the offseason.
After an extensive league investigation, the Astros were hit with a $5 million fine, plus one-year suspensions for general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch — who were immediately fired — and the loss of their top two picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
The Astros scheme began during their 2017 run to the World Series, and involved relaying signs using a live video feed, a television monitor, a bat and a trash can.
Once it was clear there would be no fans in the stands to begin the 2020 season, the A’s were one of several teams to make cutouts available to fans. For anywhere from $49 to $129, fans could secure a seat for their cutout. Those paying the highest price can even land a souvenir if their cutout is hit by a foul ball.
In this case, the cutout was clearly designed to send a message.
It’s notable too considering the A’s connection to the story. Starting pitcher Mike Fiers, who pitched for Houston from 2015-2017, was the whistleblower who exposed the Astros tactics. The A’s have also finished second to Houston in the AL West the last two seasons.
This is already a budding rivalry, and it will definitely pick up more steam in 2020.
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