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A bright spot on an otherwise dismal evening: Catcher Brian McCann

Image: Marco Torres

THE ASTROS ARE GOING TO LOSE a few games now and then, and they can afford to, at least on nights when the Cleveland Indians lose. But that is never, apparently. And so, last evening’s 3-1 trouncing by the White Sox in the teams’ series finale hurt a bit more than it otherwise would, especially as it was a particularly lame outing for the ‘Stros offense, by some measures the single greatest asset of any team in the majors. Even more disturbing: after Chicago starter Carson Fulmer left the game with a blistered finger after just three batters, the team’s skipper Rick Renteria hysterically changed pitchers roughly 73 times during the ensuing eight-plus innings, and yet aside from a Brian McCann homer, the ‘Stros still couldn’t connect. But hey, you can’t win ’em all, again unless you’re the Indians, apparently.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER CLINCHING the American League West (or “clenching” it, as some ill-informed commentators can’t resist saying), the rush was on for newly minted postseason merchandise. Gray hoodies, graphite caps, navy T-shirts and the like proclaimed that the Astros would “Take 17” and “Earn History,” and that the team was “October Ready,” and, of course, “Houston Strong.” All proceeds from merch bearing the latter slogan, or rather official merch bearing that slogan, will be donated to the American Red Cross, according to the MLB.

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Sure, you're a fan, but are you this much a fan?

Such goods pose a problem for the true blue fan, and we’re not just talking about the ball caps’ $30 pricetag. Rather, in a city soon to be crawling with such caps, how will long-suffering, diehard types ever distinguish themselves sartorially from the coming horde of bandwagon-jumping arrivistes?

In the days ahead, some will no doubt be tempted to look beyond received Astro-dom, casting their lot with the many unofficial internet artisans, well-meaning and otherwise, looking to cash in on the ‘Stros’ success. A brief perusal of the options reveals that there is no part of your home and no part of your body for which an Astros product has not been created. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but be aware that the plethora of choices can create more problems than it solves, particularly for the indiscriminate. No one will mind a $26 throw pillow or two on the couch, but how will your $150 glitter-encrusted Converses match up against a woman in Cubs

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We aren't exactly sure how, but this bat opens wine bottles.

Image: MLBshop.com

platform heels? Can you really hang a $57 [sic] “Huston Astros wreath” on your front door in September, or is an officially sanctioned embroidered garden flag the safer choice?

Elsewhere, having an Astros-decked kitchen is on everyone’s short list, naturally, although be advised that anything beyond a $20 barbecue apron, $15.99 cutting board, and $39.99 wine opener shaped like an Astros bat may raise some eyebrows. Similarly, a set of racing stripe car decals ($150) seems a little over the top, and a pair of $39 “Houston Baseball Stitch Leggings” is just plain desperate.

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Nail polish, MLB approved.

Image: MLBshop.com

Besides, female fans in particular have an almost unlimited variety of merch from which to choose. The $35 “Sparkle and Bling” cowboy hat is an option, but so is the $5 Funky Loops hair bow, the $8.99 bandana and the official scrunchie. Tired of all those “'Stros Before Hoes” T-shirts? Fight fire with a $19.99 “Mentally Dating George Springer and Don’t Have Time for Your Bullsh*t” Tee or an “I Love That My Husband Understands How I Feel About Jose Altuve” shirt. Or, get your Josh Reddick on with an officially-sanctioned MLB thong for $16.99, even as you round things out with a two-pack of orange and blue nail ‘Stro polish and decals ($12.99).

How’s a guy going to compete with that? Not with a $17.95 surgical scrub cap, that’s for sure.

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