During Thursday’s frustrating loss to the Cleveland Indians, in which the Astros were nearly no-hit, Evan Gattis heard the boo birds from the Houston faithful. Gattis said of getting booed, “I’ve never been booed by my own fans before.” There is a simple reason for this: it’s not supposed to happen. That isn’t to say it shouldn’t, however.
I don’t mention this often, but I am an A’s fan by birth, and a baseball fan by trade. Since I started writing for the site, I have become a big fan of the Houston Astros and react to their games as I would one in Oakland. That said, last season at O.Co Coliseum, newly acquired closer Jim Johnson was booed on opening night for allowing a couple of runs to score, leading to a loss. Johnson lost his closer’s job by the end of the first month and was cut by the team before the All-Star break. Whether or not it was the boo birds that sang him a tune he didn’t like, we don’t know.
I can tell you this from experience though, it seemed as though booing Johnson became the chic thing to do whenever he did something remotely bad–like throw something other than a strike. While I don’t think this is what will happen with Evan Gattis, it is a bit concerning. Gattis has played in three games thus far, and by his own admission, “Couldn’t play any worse if I tried.”
Here is what I believe is going on. You know all of those home runs we’re excited for him to hit? How we’ve already nicknamed the Crawford Boxes, “The Bear Den”? He was probably excited about the prospect of launching a few in the opening series to endear himself to the fans as well. So what does he do? He swings harder. By a show of hands, who knows what happens when you swing harder? The answer is not that you hit all of the home runs. Strikeouts are the more common side affect.
Do I understand the fans wanting to boo? Of course. There are expectations surrounding Gattis’ power, and he has whiffed in eight straight at-bats. Baseball is a game of ups and downs, and this is just one of those down times. He was hot in spring training. It happens.
This weekend in Texas, Evan Gattis will turn it around. It has only been three games, and unlike Jim Johnson with Oakland a season ago, Gattis will be in Houston for years to come, so we may as well be nice to the guy.