The 2017 Houston Astros cheated, a LOT, throughout the regular season and, seemingly less so, in the post season. This has been established, admitted to, and (to varying degrees of sincerity) apologized for. These are immutable facts that nobody in Houston is running away from. Most everyone associated with the team wants to move forward into 2020, but that's not for them to decide.
Instead, the Astros organization and, to some degree, the fan base are left to wallow in the aftermath of getting caught. You can say the punishment consisted of firing A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow, a $5 million fine, and multiple high draft picks being taken away, but the truth is the current state, RIGHT NOW, is part of the punishment — the uncomfortable, infuriating period where the rest of baseball — players, fans, media — line up to whack away at the Astros and Houston like a piñata.
This is part of the deal, and some of it is understandable to have to accept. The exasperating part we are force fed are the wild assumptions, outrageous tangential accusations like people screaming about buzzers (y'all honestly sound like flat earth truthers, you're ridiculous), and Dodger fans saying the ONLY reason the Astros won the World Series is because of the garbage can banging scheme.
Again, the Astros did this to themselves. Outrage is part of the process, even if 90 percent of it is phony, social media groupthink fueled tripe. Throughout the weekend, I was pretty tuned into all of it, a fairly miserable way to spend a weekend, if you want to know the truth. Here are four particularly stupid reactions from outside of Houston to the aftermath of the Astros' two day apology parade:
Cody Bellinger, World Series weakling
So Cody Bellinger was hailed by many outside of Houston as some sort of voice of reason when he went on this very angry rant directed at the Astros late last week:
You can see how visibly pissed Cody Bellinger is when talking about the Astros pic.twitter.com/QUXiNwzbxd— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) February 14, 2020
OK, there's a lot to unpack here. First, a quick Zapruder analysis of the whining and outright falsehoods Bellinger is spitting out here:
* 0:11 “I thought Manfred's punishment was weak, giving them immunity” — Bellinger makes it sound like Manfred made this a special exemption for the Astros. Hey, jackass, the Commissioner's warning to teams back in September 2017 said players would not be punished for electronic sign stealing, but management would be. Get it right.
* 0:14 “I mean, these guys were cheating for three years” — Pure conjecture, stated as fact, contradicting the investigation by MLB, which clearly stated the cheating occurred in 2017 and early 2018
* 0:23 “Altuve stole an MVP from Judge in ‘17” — not true, and I thought Carlos Correa laid that out very well, saying Altuve was one of a handful of players who did NOT use the garbage can banging scheme.
Carlos Correa says Jose Altuve didn’t use the trash can system:”I remember somebody banged the trash can w/o his consent when he was hitting-He was heated & u guys don’t see Altuve mad often..Heated every time somebody would accidentally or w/o his consent bang on the trash can” pic.twitter.com/Nl0ybAi12b— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) February 15, 2020
* 0:26 “Everyone knows they stole the ring from us” — again, this is where people can just make wild assumptions on behalf of the wronged and if you point out that they are WIDL ASSUMPTIONS, then you're the bad guy. Nobody is saying the Astros are clean and shouldn't get severely punished, but you can't just declare yourself World Series champions. Also, again, HEY JACKASS, you hit .143 in the World Series. Dodgers, MAYBE trot out somebody that cracked .200 for the Series to stick up for your honor. Bellinger, clown.
* 0:36 “Everyone in THE SHOW, in the big leagues, lst respect for those guys” — just a sidebar here — you sound like a douchebag calling it THE SHOW… it’s not Bull Durham, dude
* 1:08 — A long diatribe where he accuses Altuve of using a buzzer in 2019 without saying the word "buzzer." Honestly, you buzzer people are starting to sound like flat earth truthers. I think you completely underestimate the ability to pull a scam like that off, the impracticality of having a buzzer attached to your chest in a game, and the ability of this many people to keep it a secret — but it’s open season on the Astros and you can pretty much say anything and society will side with you.
By the way, have we forgotten that the Dodgers were accused of sign stealing a year ago? Or did that just disappear into thin air? Unfortunately, this is the position the Astros have out themselves in. They screwed themselves.
Washington Nationals, attention whores
It's a unique deal down in West Palm Beach, as the Astros share a spring training campus with the Washington Nationals. Understandably, the media crush has been on the Astros side of the facility, not the side where the defending World Champions are getting ready to defend their title, and the Nationals are hopping mad about it!
“Opening day 2020, there’s 50 media people here and 47 were at the Houston Astros, who cheated to win a World Series, and there were three of them here with the current, reigning world champions,” [Nationals GM Mike] Rizzo said. “And that’s not right.”
Here's what's funny about this — the irony of a team in WASHINGTON D.C. not understanding what sells in terms of media attention these days. That's very funny to me. Also, The follow up question to guys like Rizzo should be, "So, would you like to trade places with them? Maybe you can give THEM the title and you guys defend yourselves from the media onslaught?" Yeah, I thought so.
Buffalo Wild Wings, suicidal business practices
If you're looking for a nice form of social media business suicide, then I would point you to whichever digital intern thought this joke was funny....
THAT’S how you punish a team that cheats. https://t.co/A0HJYUjc0q— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) February 14, 2020
I mean, it IS kind of funny, but whoever tweeted this doesn't realize that Houstonians have many, MANY choices for places they can go eat wings, and the wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, in my opinion, are not good enough to withstand open insults to my professional sports teams from their Twitter account.
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"Houston, we have a problem" Guy, journalistic pimple
So, this happened last week....
WARNING: This article contains “Houston, we have a problem” https://t.co/ZpVs7tp1i4— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) February 14, 2020
Believe it or not, my target here isn't the parents of that California Little League. They hate the Astros right now, and despite the sanctimonious claims that it's to teach the kids that "cheating isn't right," we all know they're doing this because they hate the Astros. If the Dodgers or Angels were caught cheating, I'm sure there would still be a Dodger or Angel squad in the Long Beach Little League. However, here's one of the very underrated annoyances when there are sports issues in the city of Houston. There are national writers who think that using the phrase "Houston, we have a problem." is clever and funny, when in reality, it's neither of those things. It's lazy, it's outdated, and it reflects poorly on whatever shred of creativity is left in your barren sports soul. Just stop doing it, national scribes. Stop.