The Houston Astros return to New York was dominated by Yankees fans reaction.
We all knew New York Yankees fans were going to be roided-up versions of their usual obnoxious selves when the Houston Astros came to town, so in many ways what we’ve seen the past 24 hours was no surprise. It’s also no surprise how the major media outlets have covered fan reactions ad nauseum and given a platform to some of New York’s most idiotic citizens.
Many of us are wondering when the fervor will calm down, but I think we have to accept the reality that it won’t completely go away for quite some time. When you have so many fans across the sport who have chosen to believe what they want to believe and who simply don’t care about the facts, you really can’t expect them to behave rationally.
That’s how you get people who bring inflatable trash cans into the ballpark, who spend far too much money on tickets just for the sake of bringing homemade signs and looking like buffoons. They’ve been convinced the evil Astros’ cheating scheme is the reason the Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2009, regardless of the fact that it simply isn’t the case.
Who’s Really To Blame?
The Astros have knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs three times since 2015, which is ridiculously satisfying. The 2015 team wasn’t cheating — the Yankees just couldn’t hit Dallas Keuchel. The 2019 team wasn’t cheating either, despite what many delusional fans will say. The buzzer theory has been debunked, but Jose Altuve continues to be showered with boos for it.
The primary sore spot for New Yorkers is 2017, and yes the Astros did cheat during that season. But is that the reason they won the ALCS? Keep in mind that the sign stealing scheme took place at home, as it’s not like Houston could get a camera feed set up in opposing teams’ stadiums. All seven ALCS games were won by the home team, but it’s not quite that simple.
The Astros won the first two games at Minute Maid Park by scoring four runs combined. Alex Bregman, George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran, Evan Gattis and Josh Reddick all hit .167 or worse for the series. The team as a whole hit .187 and had only four home runs, two of which were by Altuve, who we know didn’t use the scheme.
With those numbers, it’s hard to think they were having any success stealing signs, especially considering how loud it was in the packed stadium with the roof closed. We also know the sign stealing didn’t really help them much when it worked anyway, so we can easily dismiss the theory that the Astros won because they stole signs.
The real story here is the Yankees’ inability to score on the road. The “Bombers” averaged more than six runs per game in the three games in the Bronx but scored only three runs total in the four games in Houston. That certainly lends credence to the belief that the Yankees, as well as many other teams, were illegally stealing signs that year as well. The Astros were just the ones who got caught publicly.
Facts Don’t Matter
Of course it’s not enough to disprove the assertion that the Astros only won in 2017 because they cheated. They still cheated and, according to many fans, basically got away with it. No players were ever suspended or fined, and the organization still gets to keep its World Series championship. These fans are like petulant children screaming, “It’s not fair!”
First of all, the commissioner gave the players immunity from the beginning in exchange for their truthful testimony, so punishing them was never on the table. Even if he tried to punish them, it would’ve ended up as a fistfight with the players union. How would you decide the individual punishments? What about players who didn’t use the scheme or who were only on the team for part of the year? There was no good way to do that.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
- Alex Bregman goes off in August, leads Astros
Taking away the championship was never going to happen either, simply because you can’t prove the sign stealing helped them win it. The players have said that trying to steal signs in the playoffs was almost impossible. Plus, even if you know what pitch is coming, you still have to hit it. The Yankees couldn’t hit 24 straight curveballs from Lance McCullers, so they can attest to that.
In reality, these fans just like to have a villain to blame for their team’s failures. It’s very telling that players who participated in the sign stealing scheme and are now with other teams, such as Marwin Gonzalez and George Springer, are largely ignored, while current Astros who weren’t even on the 2017 team are booed mercilessly.
Most fans simply don’t know the facts, nor do they care to know them. They have their narrative and they stick to it regardless of what information is out there. The reality is there’s no way to prove the sign stealing was the reason the Astros won, and saying “they cheated so obviously it helped” is ridiculously simplistic.
But unless the narrative is changed, that’s the way things will be. Yankees fans can celebrate this regular season win all they want. Meanwhile I’ll sit here in my 2017 World Series champions t-shirt and wait for the letter to be unsealed that will prove once and for all that the Yankees cheated just as much as the Astros did.