HOUSTON — Corey Seager deviated from his spiritless script and added more spice to an already simmering Lone Star Series rivalry.
Seager, one of the sport’s most monotonous superstars, lobbed a shot at the Houston Astros and third baseman Alex Bregman during Texas Rangers’ World Series parade Friday afternoon in Arlington.
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“Everyone was wondering what would happen if the Rangers didn’t win the World Series,” Seager told the crowd toward the end of his speech. “I guess they’ll never know.”
Bregman used an identical line to begin the Astros’ clubhouse celebration when the team clinched an American League West title, saying “a lot of people were wondering what it was going to be like if the Stros didn’t win the division. I guess we’ll never know.”
Seager, now a two-time World Series MVP, delivered the line as a mic drop moment. Bregman’s remarks were made behind closed doors, filmed by team videographers and disseminated with the caption, “We celebrate titles in Houston.”
The Astros won the division only after the Rangers lost their regular-season finale against the Seattle Mariners on Oct. 1. A night earlier, though, Texas celebrated clinching a playoff spot while the division still hung in the balance. A week of hand-wringing about celebration etiquette ensued.
Seager’s speech offered a fitting end to a season that reignited the intrastate rivalry and loosened the Astros’ vice grip on Texas baseball supremacy. Houston won nine of the 13 regular-season meetings between the two teams before the Rangers prevailed in seven games during the American League Championship Series.
Benches cleared twice between the two teams in those 20 games, including during Game 5 of the ALCS when Astros reliever Bryan Abreu hit Rangers slugger Adolis García in the shoulder with a 98.3 mph fastball.
Major League Baseball suspended Abreu for two games after deeming he intentionally threw at García, but allowed him to serve the ban at the beginning of the 2024 season. García, meanwhile, hit three home runs in the two games following his hit-by-pitch en route to ALCS MVP honors.
Abreu also hit Texas designated hitter Mitch Garver in the ribs during Game 7 of the ALCS. Neither bench emptied or seemed enraged, but the Rangers already had a six-run lead and a pennant in sight.
Three frames later, Texas reliever Aroldis Chapman plunked Houston outfielder Chas McCormick in the leg with a 103.7 mph fastball — harder than any pitch Chapman threw all season.
Asked afterward if Chapman “settled accounts,” former Astros manager Dusty Baker replied, “I don’t know if you ever settle accounts, to tell you the truth.”
The Astros’ first road trip of the 2024 season is, fittingly, to Arlington for a four-game series at Globe Life Field. Baker’s words may prove prophetic.
(Photo: Jerome Miron / USA Today)