Why the Astros Didn't Cheat
How the Astros kept Major League Baseball Interesting.
Before the readers view the title of this article and go "he's an Astros supporter" or "he's sticking up for cheaters" I just want to clarify that I am not in any way supporting the Astros cause. Baseball is a game that in recent decades been a spiral of cheating scandals from gambling to PED's and now sign stealing in the World Series. The Houston Astros have proved that are a team to be reckoned with as they have appeared in two of the past three World Series and have won one. The one they won is the one in question though. I am here to make a case that the Astros did not cheat their way to victory in 2017 though.
Sign stealing is apart of baseball and has always been. Players have been known to give away pitches and like reading a poker player opposing teams have been able to pick up on and learn pitchers methods for this. It is not uncommon in the game even at younger levels. The Astros played it off though that they were simply reading pitchers and getting lucky on route to a World Series title. There are a number of areas of speculation as to how the Astros won the ultimate prize and each has specific key areas which need to be examined. The first is the Astros winning their ALCS over the New York Yankees.
The Yankees ARE a powerhouse in the American League, I don't think any baseball expert is going to dispute this. A lineup so clean I think even the 1927 Yankees would be jealous. A solid first baseman in Luke Voit, two outstanding outfield presences in Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. October was theirs from the beginning of the year and no writer or columnist disputed this as the Yankees are for the third season in a row topping the odds to win the World Series in 2020. However, the Astros seemed to have more depth than any other team at the time, a rotation (without Gerrit Cole or Zack Greinke in it at the time) that was lead by veteran Justin Verlander. One could argue that the Yankees rotation was weaker when it came to the playoff but that would be an understatement. The Yankees are dominant in all facets of the game. The demise occurred elsewhere when the Yankees collapsed midway through the series as they were not hitting their usual stride. The Yankees collapsed on their own based on the footage it was not a question of cheating more or less in that series.
Example two is that in many cases through watching footage of opposing pitchers it was very clear that SOME were giving away pitches. Like poker, pitchers have tells and I am not going to reveal which ones are for which pitcher because that would be outing them and that is not my goal in this article. The Astros seemed to have every pitcher's number regardless and it was just a perfect time to get hot. The Dodgers were the better team in my opinion but it did not seem that they were ready for (at the time) and underrated Astros team. The Dodgers should not at all feel as though they were cheated out of a World Series though because signs pointed this all being coincidence. Baseball is a game full of coincidences and the best team does not always win.
Thirdly, the Astros did not do anything any different than any other team would have done. Sign stealing has been a part of the game since its inception and it is no national secret that teams do it. Baseball has for centuries experienced turmoil in this area and on its biggest stage it appears to have happened several times including the "Shot Heard Round the World" by Bobby Thomson in the 1951 to win the pennant for the New York Giants. The difference is in the method in that the Astros supposedly used technology to do it. In my opinion the Astros did nothing wrong and simply played by watching film of pitchers and their movements from their giving an advantage on their end. Coincidences are rare but I believe that in 2017 the Astros simply had a stroke of luck and won fair and square. Other "experts" can tell me that I am wrong and I am okay with that as regardless of what happened my Washington Nationals took the World Series crown this past October.
I think it is a stretch to say that the Astros did anything wrong but I would also say that with the scandal the Astros kept the sports world in shock. Cheating their way to top supposedly is the ultimate crime and the Astros were blamed for that. Even my father a lifetime Astros supporter lost interest and switched allegiances due to the scandal. However, the blame should not be on the Astros for doing what they did, the blame rest in the front office and up the chain of command for allowing what supposedly occurred to happen. It took individuals to ruin the team's reputation not the team itself. Nevertheless I declare the Astros innocent of all of their supposed crimes in the 2017 World Series just as I feel that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.