Astros fan Andy Kaminski made a journey from Austin to Houston’s Minute Maid Park for game two of the American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers, overflowing with excitement to support the home team. He secured an upper deck ticket at a great price and had plans to engage in guerrilla marketing for his gig economy start-up, RunnerCity, which he founded in Austin during the COVID-19 pandemic and is now expanding into Houston.
A charismatic individual with a captivating personality, Kaminski couldn’t resist adding his own unique twist to the experience. He sported a T-shirt, specially made by a friend, in a dusty off-white hue featuring the Astros “H” logo and a depiction of an orange trash can, complete with a lid, being struck by a baseball bat. Accompanying the image, in the team’s signature script, were the iconic words of Screwed Up Click rapper E.S.G.: “Swangin and Bangin,” a well-known Houston catchphrase that has been repurposed by steadfast Astros fans to allude to the team’s 2017 cheating scandal. This scandal involved swanging bats and banging trash cans to communicate the upcoming pitches to Houston batters. When the Athletic unmasked the truth in 2019, it tainted the Astros’ 2017 World Series championship in the eyes of baseball enthusiasts nationwide.
While the Dusty Baker-era Astros have seemingly moved on from the scandal, it appears that some stadium staff members are still sensitive to reminders of the past. Kaminski shared his encounter, saying, “It was game time, I was pumped up to enter the stadium, and then I got stopped. I thought it might be a random check like at the airport, but the woman said, ‘You can’t wear that shirt in here,’ and two security guards approached.”
Kaminski tried his best to explain that, unofficially, the garment in question was indeed an Astros shirt, but his explanations fell on deaf ears. “I’m a die-hard Astros fan, and it represents Houston culture, you know, swangin’ and bangin’, trill, Slim Thug,” he justified, dropping more Houston hip-hop slang and referencing a rapper who left a lasting impression with his featured verse on the remix of Houston MC Paul Wall’s “Swangin in the Rain.”
Kaminski asked what he could do in this situation, and the security personnel presented him with two options: either turn the shirt inside out or be escorted to the team store where he could purchase an Astros shirt free from scandalous implications. He chose the latter, and as they made their way to the store, the guards instructed him to cover the depiction of the trash can on his shirt with his hand. Finally at the store, he was able to acquire an officially sanctioned piece of Astros merchandise. “Everyone in the store was curious, asking me, ‘What happened?’ and I replied, ‘Apparently, my shirt is offensive!’ and they responded, ‘No way, man, that shirt is awesome,'” Kaminski shared with Texas Monthly.
Kaminski remains a loyal Astros fan, but he did express concern that the team’s misfortunes during that game—surrendering four runs in the first inning—could be attributed to a curse brought about by the sensitivity of the team’s staff. “When I was walking back from the store, and it’s four-nothing in the first inning, I did make a snarky comment like, ‘You guys jinxed the whole game,'” he admitted, “but it was just frustration with the score.”
When Texas Monthly reached out to a representative from the team, they stated that they were unaware of the incident and were unable to clarify whether it reflected an unwritten policy or the actions of an overly enthusiastic employee. Nevertheless, Kaminski isn’t letting it bother him. “I love the Astros, I love Minute Maid Park, and it gave me a chance to get some merchandise, so there you go,” he declared. “I don’t view it as a negative experience; instead, it’s a f—ing story I can share forever.”
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