Six years removed from the World Series "tainted" by sign-stealing, once again the national media is attempting to stir up disdain around the Astros rather than simply appreciating the historic tear they are in having reached their seventh straight ALCS.
Look no further than his latest edition of The Windup for The Athletic.
Ken Rosenthal is continuing to spew nonsense about the Astros
These three statements in his column stand out:
"...the more the Astros win, the more they distance themselves from their transgressions in 2017 and ’18 and warrant grudging admiration for their continued dominance…The Astros are headed to their seventh straight American League Championship Series, and yes, the first two were tainted…Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman are the only remaining position players from the 2017 club, Kyle Tucker and Martín Maldonado the only other current players who were members of the ’18 team…"- Ken Rosenthal
Rosenthal then continued on to say that some fans still believe the Astros cheated in 2019, though there is no proof or credible reports to support such a claim.
Yes, the Astros cheated in 2017. We can split hairs about whether it was effective or not, but what happened, happened, and in the eyes of many, that championship is tainted. Nothing Houston does will change that for anybody outside of the city.
Blame Alex Bregman all you want, because he did participate in the scandal. However, why continue to lump Jose Altuve into the mix? He never partook in the scandal. He publicly took the brunt of the blame for his teammates and never blinked in the face of it.
But for some wild reason, Kyle Tucker and Martín Maldonado are lumped into the group that stole signs.
The Commissioner’s Report is clear the Astros abandoned the system in 2018. Most believe it was early in the season, because again, if you can read and if you can count, you’ll see it wasn’t effective.
Rosenthal got it wrong about Kyle Tucker and Martin Maldonado
Kyle Tucker made his MLB debut on July 7th of 2018. He played 20 games and was sent back down in August. Tucker was hitting .154 with a .466 OPS at the time of his demotion.
Are we to believe one of the best hitters on the planet today was batting .154 with one extra base hit to his name while knowing what pitch was coming? Martín Maldonado was acquired via trade on July 27th, three weeks after the Tucker debut, and again, likely well beyond when the scheme had stopped.
And as for 2019, aside from Jomboy and his unfounded buzzer allegations, there's never been anything to emerge about the Astros cheating. Let’s read straight from the Commissioners Report.
"The investigation revealed no violations of the policy by the Astros in the 2019 season or 2019 postseason."- Rob Manfred
Why even mention 2019 then? Fans can believe what they want, opposing teams could have believed the Astros were still cheating, but there was never anything to emerge. Mentioning it only stirs up additional, unwarranted hate towards a team of 24 players that weren't on the 2017 team and a 25th that wanted no part of the scheme.
The Astros are an exceptional baseball team. They are the gold standard of the MLB. Not the Dodgers, not the Braves, not the Yankees, but Houston. They've been scapegoated enough for what was a league-wide issue. It's time to give them their due credit.
No qualifiers. No "additional context." No strays at parties like Kyle Tucker that were totally uninvolved.
Report that the Astros are in the ALCS, for a seventh consecutive season, which has never been done before, and likely will never be done again in today's era of free agency bonanzas and the analytical revolution. More stories like that and people outside of Houston may actually be able to appreciate what the Astros have done.