With spring training underway, the Houston Astros are already making a bold prediction for the 2018 season.
Every championship team comes back the next season with aspirations of a title repeat. Usually it takes a reporter asking a player how he feels about the team’s chances in the coming season to get a quote or soundbite predicting another championship.
The Astros are apparently cutting out the middle man and taking things a step further this year by sporting “Back to Back 2018” t-shirts two weeks into spring training.
KHOU-TV’s Daniel Gotera tweeted a picture of a freshly trimmed George Springer wearing one of the shirts, sitting on a Razor Scooter at Astros Spring Training this morning.
The Astros are entering spring among the favorites to win the 2018 World Series so it’s not completely off the wall. Depending on where you look, their odds are anywhere from 6/1 to 8/1 and they have either the best or second best odds behind the Dodgers, followed closely by the Yankees. They return almost the entire team that won 101 games in the regular season and topped the Dodgers in seven games to take home the franchise’s first World Series crown a year ago.
It’s not like the Stros have no reason to be confident. But still a pretty bold move to bust out the shirts already declaring themselves 2018 World Series champs this early, and this unprovoked. It did take Houston almost 60 years to win one title so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the second to take longer than a single season.
Putting this in the context of recent history also makes it a tall order since 18 seasons have passed without a team winning back-to-back World Series.
The Yankees in 1999 and 2000 were the last teams to go back-to-back. Remember those Yankees teams that had guys like Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and David Justice in their primes?
Their “role players,” guys like Paul O’Neill, Chuck Knoblauch and Scott Brosius, were practically household names. So yeah, no disrespect to the Astros but it took a team full of players who lived in rarefied air to achieve what they’re calling with t-shirts already.
The shirts are cool for Astros players and fans right now, but imagine how they’re going to look if things fall apart this year? If they get hit with a string of injuries or things just don’t fall into place, there are going to be Good Will’s and Salvation Army’s across the greater Houston area filled with “Back to Back” shirts this time next year. And you can bet there will be plenty of opposing fans holding up posters and cutouts of Springer flexing on his Razor Scooter with his “Back to Back” shirt.
But hey, they’re World Series Champs, the best in the world at what they do, they have droves of fans lined up to watch them practice. There’s a reason they feel confident.