Houston Astros Disappoint Cardboard Fans at Dodger Stadium, Advance to ALCS

Prior to the wacky 2020 sports season, the last time the Houston Astros played a postseason game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles was Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. The Astros won their only world title in that game, and they danced and partied on that turf before the Dodgers faithful fans.

Fast forward to 2020, and the world has become vastly different, especially in sports. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic reaching into America last March, Major League Baseball indefinitely postponed its season. The league kicked back off with a reduced schedule and expanded playoff module.

That included neutral-site games for the divisional and championship rounds for each league, and a neutral site World Series—to be played at the new Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

On Thursday afternoon, the Astros defeated the Oakland A's in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, 11-6. The Astros won the series at Dodger Stadium, which has been a good, recent, postseason stomping grounds for the Astros.

The 2020 postseason is different, though. At Dodger Stadium, real fans are not allowed—but cardboard cutouts of fans' faces are stacked into the seats. So when the Astros made the final out in the top of the ninth Thursday, they left cardboard cutouts disappointed. And just like 2017, very few cheers from the bleachers.

Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics
A view of the cardboard cutout fans prior to Game One of the American League Division Series between the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics at Dodger Stadium on October 05, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Due to concerns of the spread of the coronavirus, MLB games are being played without fans. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Astros have been marred by their 2017 championship run after a cheating scandal emerged almost one year ago. MLB found that the Astros used their home field at Minute Maid Park in Houston to steal pitching signs and let their batters know which pitches to expect during the 2017 campaign. Though the previous manager and other top personnel in the organization were suspended from the game, the players were not punished.

Now, the Astros—with many of those key players still on the roster—advance to the 2020 American League Championship Series, where they will face the winner of the other ALDS between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay held a 2-1 in their best-of-5 series heading into Thursday night.

The American League Championship Series will begin this Sunday, October 11, in San Diego.

In the National League, the Atlanta Braves swept the Miami Marlins in three games to take one divisional series. The Braves advance to the National League Championship Series to face the winner of the other NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. The Dodgers held a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series heading into Thursday evening.

The National League Championship Series will begin Monday, October 12, in Arlington, Texas.

Both the ALCS and NLCS will be the traditional best-of-7 series, with winners advancing to the Fall Classic.

The World Series is scheduled to begin Tuesday, October 20, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, which is the new home to the Texas Rangers, but seldom used this year because of the COVID-shortened season.

MLB has already stated it will allow limited fans for both the NLCS and World Series.

The Astros made the playoffs in 2018, but were eliminated. They made it back to the World Series in 2019, but lost to the Washington nationals in seven games—the final game being at home.