Remember when the whole world was angry at the Houston Astros for stealing signs? They wanted them to give back their World Series title, their championship rings, their postseason money.

One day in spring training, I watched the Astros play in a half-empty ballpark against the Marlins on what was senior day, sponsored by a local hospital. Even then, the fans were all over José Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer: profanity, snark, outrage. It seemed to me this was a mini dress rehearsal for what the Astros would face in the regular season.

That gantlet was scheduled to begin on Thursday. First in Oakland against the A’s and whistleblower Mike Fiers. Then in Anaheim against the Angels, where thousands of angry Dodgers fans had bought tickets. By June 3, the sideshow would have gone through Texas, Boston and New York, each place trying to outdo the last in terms of public outrage–or just trying to do something that goes viral.

And then, the pandemic happened.