If you actually devote time and energy to hating the Houston Astros for their sign stealing scandal, trust me when I say we’ve heard it all before. Your jeers, your trash can jokes, your incessant rants about how the 2017 title should be taken away and the players severely punished — it’s not new, it’s not witty and it’s not original. At this point it’s just petulant and stupid.
Yes, the Astros cheated in 2017 and early 2018 by illegally stealing signs and banging on a trash can to relay those signs to hitters. No one denies it and no one says it’s okay that it happened. But the way people are acting, you’d think this team was the first and only one to illegally steal signs. Heck, you’d think the Astros practically invented cheating!
The opposing fans who spew hate at the Houston Astros have no idea how ridiculous they are.
We saw that in the first series in Oakland and we’re seeing it now in Anaheim where fans threw an inflatable trash can and then a real trash can onto the field during the game. It’s hard to understand how these fans feel cheated when the Angels and A’s finished 21 and 26 games behind the Astros in 2017, respectively. Those teams weren’t going anywhere regardless of the sign stealing.
Manager Dusty Baker is frustrated with it, and understandably so. He talked about glass houses after Monday’s game and pointed out that, “There aren’t many saints walking around on this Earth, and if there are I don’t recognize them.” I’d certainly be willing to bet that most of these fans, as well as the teams they support, aren’t exactly models of perfection either.
Going Too Far
Throwing objects onto the field of play is always taking things too far, but then again we should expect nothing less. Many of the people doing the jeering and debris throwing are the same ones who think Jose Altuve wore a buzzer during the 2019 ALCS (which has been debunked) and that the Astros only won the World Series because they knew what pitch was coming.
If you want to hate the Astros because they broke the rules, fine. That’s fair. But logic dictates that you must also hate the other teams who broke the rules, including the Red Sox and Yankees, who were both busted in 2017. The 1951 New York Giants stole signs from beyond center field, and several other teams undoubtedly did it in the intervening years. If you honestly think Houston was the only team to go this far, I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you.
If you hate the Astros because they won the World Series while breaking the rules, you’re being foolish. Both The Athletic and The Los Angeles Times have concluded that the Astros’ sign stealing scheme may have actually hurt their hitters more than it helped them. If they did see any benefits from it, they were negligible at best.
So why did they do it? Carlos Beltran came back to Houston and convinced the Astros they were “behind the times” and at a competitive disadvantage, and he’d just spent most of the previous three years in the Bronx. If the Yankees had won a title during this time period, would they be getting the same level of hate? Somehow I doubt it.
Besides, the Red Sox also won the World Series while breaking the rules, yet the type of hatred the Astros are getting seems to have eluded Boston entirely. Let’s also not forget about the many teams who won championships with multiple steroid users on their rosters — I don’t see any of those teams getting booed vociferously.
One more thing — if you hate the Astros because you think they weren’t punished enough, that’s not their fault. Commissioner Rob Manfred decided in the beginning to offer immunity to the players, likely because he didn’t want a fight with the Players Union when he knew full well these players weren’t the only ones in the league who were illegally stealing signs.
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Everyone Loves A Villain
So if we’ve already demonstrated that the Astros weren’t helped by their sign stealing scheme and that they certainly weren’t the only ones doing it, you’d think people would just come to their senses, right? Fat chance. These people have already made up their minds and no amount of facts or logic will sway them. The Astros are the enemy.
Part of that is because we know more about what went on in Houston. The Red Sox and Yankees and the other teams that were undoubtedly stealing signs didn’t have a disgruntled former player to rat them out to the media. The Red Sox had time to get their story straight and blame it on some random video guy.
But part of that is some people just love to have a villain to hate. They can blame their own team’s failures on what the Astros did, regardless of whether the cheating had anything to do with it at all. They can boo the players mercilessly, and the players don’t need to have participated in the sign stealing or even have been on the 2017 team in order to deserve it.
It’s simply gone too far. It’s stupid, illogical and childish. But it’s also unlikely to change when so many people already have their minds made up. Astros hitters seem to be responding well to the jeers, so by all means please continue to act like fools. We’ll soak in the hate all the way to another championship.