HOUSTON -- Alex Bregman sees the videos on social media, sometimes two and three a day. Police departments are doing the Dugout Stare. Teachers are doing it. And office workers, construction workers and kids and …"It's been awesome," the Astros' third baseman said. "It's been unbelievable just being able to
HOUSTON -- Alex Bregman sees the videos on social media, sometimes two and three a day. Police departments are doing the Dugout Stare. Teachers are doing it. And office workers, construction workers and kids and …
"It's been awesome," the Astros' third baseman said. "It's been unbelievable just being able to see the police department do it, the fire department. … It's cool to see the whole Houston community doing it. We're a big community, a big family here in Houston. It's fun."
Did we mention the passengers on that one flight? On cue, they turned in their seats and stared into the camera.
Bregman especially loved that one. Just when you thought you'd seen everything there is to see in terms of celebrations and handshakes and Gatorade showers, Bregman came up with something completely new.
• Bregman stared straight into the dugout camera after crushing homer
Now so many of the videos have gone viral that even people who may not know all that much about the Houston Astros are familiar with the Dugout Stare.
Beyond that, the Dugout Stare in all its forms have come to represent how the Astros see themselves and their quest to repeat as World Series champions. In doing so, they may have answered some important questions.
Is there an encore for perfection? That's what a lot of people wondered about the 2018 Astros. They didn't just win the World Series for the first time in '17. They came to represent the resilience and spirit of a city devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
After you've been to the mountaintop, to this thing you've dreamed about your entire life, how do you return to the grind of work and throw yourself into doing it all again?
"For me personally -- and I know, everyone else in this clubhouse -- it feels the same," Bregman said. "In order to be great in this game, you have to be good for a really long time, and to be good, you have to constantly win.
"Winning is the only thing that drives all of us. I feel like we're winners in this clubhouse, and we're chasing something every single day, and that's another championship."
Houston is positioned to do that. After 139 games, the Astros are 86-53 for the second straight season entering Wednesday's contest against the Twins. But 86-53 got them a 14 1/2-game lead in the American League West in 2017. This season, 86-53 has gotten them just a 3 1/2-game lead over the A's.
How do the Astros feel about that, Alex?
"Energizing," he said. "I think for everybody in here, we all want to win, and we live on competition. You love competition. If there's somebody pushing you, you're going to be more energized."
Back to the Dugout Stare.
It was born in a moment of emotion and joy in Game 4 of a series-clinching AL Division Series victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park last October. The Astros trailed the Red Sox, 3-2, in the eighth inning and were seemingly headed home for a deciding Game 5.
And then Bregman led off the top of the eighth by hammering a Chris Sale pitch over the Green Monster to tie it. That suddenly, the momentum was back with Houston, which won, 5-4.
Bregman remembered Fenway Park being so quiet that he could hear his shoes hitting the infield dirt as he circled the bases. When he returned to the dugout, he saw the red light on the camera at the end of the dugout and …
He screamed. He stared.
"It was just pure emotion," Bregman said. "I was just so happy. After that, after every homer, I looked at the camera just a little bit. It started getting bigger and bigger and bigger."
This season, that quick trip to the camera became Bregman's signature home run celebration. And then on Aug. 22 in Seattle, the whole thing reached another level, a wild level, a crazy level, when the entire team took part in a perfectly timed, hilarious Dugout Stare to celebrate a Tyler White homer.
"Josh Reddick hit a big homer for us the night before," Bregman said, "and he stared at the camera, and we thought it was hilarious. We said, 'From now on, the whole team is going to do it.'
"When Whitey homered, the go-ahead homer, we all looked at the camera at the same time."
That video was around the world seemingly within seconds. That's when copycat videos were made by the dozens.
And then …
"After that, we decided, 'Hey, we're going to have some fun with this and mix in some different ones,'" Bregman said.
Last weekend, Bregman did the limbo after one home run, dancing beneath teammate Tony Kemp, who was being held up. And after another one, there was a curling imitation, with teammates doing an imaginary sweeping of the ice as Bregman walked toward the camera.
"We're going to do a few other ones, hopefully, if we keep hitting homers," Bregman said.
If it's too much for you -- if you prefer baseball without this color -- here's some advice: relax. This is who they are.
"And guys here like each other and love what they're doing," Bregman said. "That's one thing about this team. We're really close-knit. We have a lot of fun, and the fans do as well. They're having fun with it just like we are."
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.