Ahead of an intra-Texas series between the first-place Astros and the last-place Rangers, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman had this to say Sunday night:
It’s not especially clever (or copy-edited) but it does assert, through use of a hashtag that has become popular among Houston fans, that the Astros should “Beat The Shit Out Of The Rangers.” Which, sure. Aspiring to defeat your opponent is pretty much the whole point of any athletic competition.
For the most part, the Rangers seemed to not really care about the tweet—when MLB asked him about it, manager Jeff Banister didn’t even know who sent it—but Mike Napoli took the opportunity to preach about how such youthful disrespect would be handled in their organization.
“I might have a conversation with them about it,” Napoli told MLB. “It’s the whole learning process of being young and keeping it within your clubhouse. He’s a good player, but if he feels like he needs to stay stuff like that to pump himself up, so be it.”
Twenty-three-year-old Bregman admitted it was a “rookie mistake” saying:
I shouldn’t have tweeted that out. It was more of just trying to fire up our team. I shouldn’t have put it on social media at all. They have a great team over there. I didn’t mean to offend anybody over there.
This is all very dumb.
During Monday’s game, Napoli also found himself at the center of things when the rivalry got a little—but only a little—physical on the field.
In the first two innings, Rangers pitcher Andrew Cashner plunked both Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel on the elbows, prompting Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. to throw behind Napoli, who had singled and homered, in the sixth. After some heated words, both benches cleared. No punches were thrown and no one got ejected, but umpire Gerry Davis warned both dugouts.
Ever the arbiter of unwritten rules, Napoli said after the game that, actually, it was the location of the payback throw that pissed him off:
I’ve been in the game a long time. I understand how things work. Two of their guys get hit, but all he has to do is put it in my hip and I run down to first base. No one likes 95 [mph] behind their back.
That might have helped! He ended up striking out when the at-bat resumed, and the Rangers went on to lose 6-2.
The real winner in all of this is McCullers, who at least got a good postgame quote out of the ordeal:
“[Napoli] said I smell good,” McCullers said. “I said, ‘I got some new cologne. Do you want to come smell it? You can smell it.’ That was as it.”