- - Sunday, February 16, 2020

I am heading to a place where heaven and hell share the same space, where the sun shines on one side of the building while storms cover the other.

Where in Florida I am going?

Sure, I get that the destination I’m describing could almost anyplace in the Sociopath State, where you can find pop-up churches in the same strip malls as massage parlors (no wonder Robert Kraft was so confused), where bright skies on one side of the street while pouring-down rain on the other is a fairly common sight.

These days, it’s pouring video monitors, garbage cans and buzzers on one side of the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches — the side occupied by the Houston Astros.

The other side? The Washington Nationals’ side? Listen closely, and you may hear legendary governor and songwriter Jimmy Davis singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray” on a 24-hour loop.

The writers’ room where they pen the script for life hit a home run when they set up the Astros and the Nationals in the same spring training facility in 2017.

The villainous trash-can-banging, sign-stealing 2017 World Series champion Astros are the flip side to the virtuous 2019 World Series champion Nationals — who just happened to vanquish baseball’s newest crime family in seven games in October.

The presence of the two teams sharing the same prison-like facility on top of an old landfill in West Palm Beach is like Al Capone and Eliot Ness living next door to each other in a Del Boca Vista retirement complex. It’s like Lex Luthor and Superman sharing the Fortress of Solitude.

It’s like the White House and the Kremlin being next door to each … never mind.

Typically, there are laws against good and evil being in such close proximity. The demon rum can’t be sold next to schools or churches. But not even brilliant Florida legislators could have foreseen a scenario where the neighbors sharing the facility would be a team engaging in the “dark arts” to steal baseball signs and ultimately a championship, and a team, from of all places, Washington, D.C, that rode the magic of a children’s song, “Baby Shark,’ to its own title two years later.

The Astros have become so toxic that Little League teams named Astros are changing their names. The Astros have become so hated that even the New York Yankees feel comfortable enough to take their shots.

“What has happened in the past, obviously we’re upset,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters. “Our ownership’s upset. Our front office is upset. Our players that we with us in (2017) were upset, and understandably so.”

Having been knocked out of the American League playoffs two of the last three years by Houston, the Yankees have every right to be upset.

There is a new Evil Empire in baseball, and it’s not in the Bronx.

Cashman called the Houston sign-stealing scandal “an unhealthy dynamic for our game to be dealing with.” There may be some ugly scenes around the old FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches this spring.

Florida has become a frightening enough place without angry baseball fans wielding garbage cans. Iguanas are like squirrels now in South Florida. There are so many of the hideous creatures that they have reportedly damaged a dam that delivers water to the area. And when it gets too cold, they fall out of the trees. Some people eat them, calling them the “chickens of the trees.”

Just south of West Palm Beach, they held a Super Bowl hunt for Burmese pythons, and caught 80. To the north, bands of herpes-infected monkeys are roaming around.

Then there is Florida Man.

If you don’t know about Florida Man, just google those words with your birthdate, and you are likely to find the headline “Florida Man” on that date committing some strange, bizarre or frightening act.

If you were born on Feb. 13, now you might see this headline — “Florida Man Holds a Press Conference to Repair the Damage to His Cheating Baseball Team, Makes Things Worse Instead.”

On Thursday, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane became Florida Man.

“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” Crane told reporters, which is just as ludicrous as the guy who stopped traffic in the middle of a busy street in Lakeland one morning to set up a table and eat pancakes on my birthday.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the building was Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, telling reporters, “We’re the 2019 World Series champions. I couldn’t be more proud of this group than that. We did it with character, dignity and did it the right way, so we feel good about that.”

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan podcast Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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