Is there more to the Astros' cheating than meets the eye?
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
First of all, I know all of this stuff with Houston happened a while ago but I didn’t have a website then. So I’m doing it now.
As you probably know by now, during the 2017 season the Houston Astros had an electronic camera in the outfield. Whenever the catcher called for a change up, the Astros clubhouse would hit a trash can to alert the batter.
The Astros finished the season with the most runs the league, the highest batting average, the most bases and second-best record in the American League. They went on to win the World Series that year.
Of course, the Astros were cheating. They are a Major League Baseball team worth nearly half a billion dollars. But they were, and still are, doing so much more than stealing signs and smacking a trash can. Stealing signs isn’t against the rules. Stealing signs electronically is.
“The shot heard around the world,” the walk-off from Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants against the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the 1951 NL Pennant, was hit because they were stealing signs.
The Astros admitted they were stealing signs to distract people from what they are actually doing. But what are they doing?
How did Justin Verlander go from a five-year slump in Detroit to going 5-0 in the regular season and 4-1 in the playoffs as soon got to Houston? How did George Springer go from being one of the leaders in strikeouts for his first three seasons in the majors to an All-Star in 2017? How did Carlos Correa go from a fairly decent minor league player to the American League Rookie of the Year in a single season? How did Alex Bregman go from a good hitter but a poor fielder in his 2016 rookie season to an all-around great player the next year? How is José Altuve so good, he’s short?
Are the Houston Astros loaded up on P.E.D.’s? Possibly. Was someone using pine tar? There’s always a chance. Did they hollow out their bats? Perhaps. Did they load up those bats with bouncy balls like Graig Nettles in 1974? It’s possible. Maybe they corked their bats. Or they were throwing spitballs like it was the 1930’s. Were the balls juiced? Yeah probably, but every team is doing that. Does A.J. Hinch have the magic like Bill Belichick where they can whip mediocre players into All-Star caliber players? It could be, but probably not. Did the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey rally a team and a city? Hopefully.
Or maybe is it the Houston Astros were just doing what they admitted to, stealing signs and hitting a trash can. They won all of their games in the postseason fairly including the ALDS against my Red Sox, and I should just accept it.
Nevertheless, they were caught cheating. Everyone is debating what the MLB should do to the Astros. Should they have to vacate their title? Should Dodgers be champions? Should the team be fined?
I think the MLB should take this as: no matter what there will always be cheating. It's always happened and it always will happen. At most the team will get fined. But that seems unfair.
Usually when a player or a team cheats they are suspended from the game. Everyone from Barry Bonds to Shoeless Joe Jackson. But why not look at it the other way? Yeah, they cheated, but just like Houston they made the game more exciting. They help Major League Baseball but they won’t ever be immortalized in it. While Justin Verlander and José Altuve have a chance at the Hall of Fame the other “cheaters” shouldn’t.