While the Yankees and their fans are licking their chops when it comes to meeting the Houston Astros at some point during the 2020 season, it’s the Mets that are the first local side to meet the controversial club.
The Mets host the Astros on Wednesday afternoon in an early spring-training tilt down in Florida, giving some New York fans an opportunity to voice their displeasure with the sign stealers, who are preparing for 2020 and beyond as the villains of Major League Baseball.
Houston is making its first appearances on the diamond since a turbulent offseason that saw MLB commissioner Rob Manfred investigate and implicate the franchise for illegally stealing signs using a video camera in center field, a television monitor just inside the clubhouse tunnel, and a trash can during the 2017 season.
It was those efforts that helped lift the Astros to their first and only World Series title, which included a victory over the Yankees in a seven-game American League Championship Series.
While the Yankees — along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost the 2017 World Series to Houston — were most affected by the scandal, the Mets were burned in the fallout.
Just eight days after they hired Carlos Beltran to be their new manager, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich’s bombshell report revealing the sign-stealing scheme was released, saddling Major League Baseball with one of its largest black marks in the last century.
Beltran, who was a veteran outfielder and DH in his final MLB season with the Astros, was the lone player named in Manfred’s report where it was later revealed that he was one of the ringleaders of the cheating.
The Mets and Beltran opted to part ways (to put it nicely) after days of deliberation, forcing them to scramble to find a new manager just weeks before the start of spring training.
Luis Rojas was promoted from quality control coach to manager in late January.
The Mets also have a pair of former Astros in their ranks in JD Davis and Jake Marisnick, who spent parts of their offseason process having to deal with the ensuing hysteria.
Davis only played 24 games in 2017 with the Astros while Marisnick appeared in 106 regular-season games but no postseason matchups.
“I want to say sorry to fans, Major League Baseball, my peers and anybody else who was affected by this,” Marisnick said. “We’re all in a clubhouse and we’re all grown men, and we all had a chance to voice our opinion. That’s something that I regret not doing it, I didn’t say anything on the matter.”
The Mets play the Astros five more times during spring training before traveling to Houston for a two-game regular-season meet-up in early April. On Jun. 2-3, the Astros make their first appearance in New York when they visit the Mets at Citi Field.
Houston doesn’t play the Yankees in the Bronx until what could be a vital four-game set toward the end of September.