c/o AP

c/o AP

For the second time in franchise history, the Houston Astros are on top of the baseball world as the 2022 World Series Champions. The Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games ending with a 4–1 victory at Minute Maid Park in Houston. It was a compelling series with some incredible moments, most notably the Astros throwing a no-hitter against the Phillies in game four (only the second no-hitter in World Series history). There were a fair share of impressive performances, such as by Astros rookie Jeremy Peña, who won the World Series MVP by hitting for a .400 batting average. Because of this Astros win, many people are angry, some are overjoyed, and a few have even made a lot of money, but with all of the strong emotions that have followed the series, I will try to break down why to be happy, why to be annoyed, and why to look forward to next year. 

Firstly, a little history lesson to explain why the majority of the country was rooting against the Astros. In 2017, Houston had an amazing year, winning 101 games during the regular season and beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a thrilling seven-game World Series for the championship. This included a 13–12 win in extra innings in game five, which is regarded as one of the greatest World Series games of all time. So was the season exciting? Of course it was! Between a great battle between elite teams and some fan favorites to root for—like the undersized 2017 American League MVP, José Altuve (second baseman for the Astros)—the season was great from start to finish, and I even enjoyed watching it as a New York Yankees fan whose team lost to the Astros in the American League Championship Series. But one key point came into question in January of 2020: was it fair? After a large-scale MLB investigation, the answer seems to be a resounding “no.”

In late 2019, rumors began to circulate that the Astros may have been stealing the opposing team’s pitching signs. This means that somehow the Astros found out what pitch the pitcher was about to throw (as signaled by the catcher), and relayed this information to the batter all in a matter of seconds. If this is done electronically with video or communication equipment, it is completely illegal. Due to the rumors floating around, the MLB decided to launch a full investigation of the Astros in order to try and determine if the accusations had any truth to them. On Jan. 13, 2020, Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred held a press conference in which he revealed that the Astros had been using video cameras to steal signs in the 2017 regular season and postseason, as well as in parts of the 2018 season. Someone in a room behind the dugout would decode the signs early in the game and then begin signaling the pitches to someone in the dugout. This person would then bang on a trashcan if the pitch was a breaking ball or not make any noise for a fastball. Players and fans alike were outraged, as it seemed that the Astros had stolen a World Series from the Dodgers and José Altuve had stolen an MVP award from the rookie sensation Aaron Judge. On top of this, the majority of the players got off with little to no punishment, keeping their rings, jobs, and large salaries.

This scandal has followed the Astros since 2020 and explains why in a poll by BetOnline.ag, a whopping 88% of fans (including me) were rooting for the opposing Philadelphia Phillies in this World Series, and why when the Astros won, the same anger and emotions of 2020 came pouring out again.

So what are some things to be happy about, or at least optimistic with this unfavorable win? Well, firstly, these Astros are quite different from the Astros of 2017. Only five players remain from the 2017 squad, three of whom are known to have cheated (José Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Yuli Gurriel). The organization looks different as a whole with new management and new stars, for example, Jeremy Peña who had not even been drafted in 2017. So even though the Astros are looked down upon by most, it is only a few players that we should still resent.

We should root for the newcomers like Peña who may be able to turn the narrative about the Astros around as the last ‘2017ers’ leave the team, as well as the Astros’ best hitter Yordan Álvarez who will be a star in the league for years to come. These players can change the narrative around the team with their fair successes. Houston’s manager, Dusty Baker, who first joined the team in 2020, deserves respect, as he won his first world series after three decades of coaching and three Manager of the Year Awards.

We can also cheer for local Houston celebrity Mattress Mack (Jim McIngvale) who won the biggest sports bet of all time at 75 million dollars by betting on the Astros. While Mack is a very wealthy businessman, he is also somewhat of a community hero as he has served massive Thanksgiving dinners throughout the years for those who cannot afford to make their own. In 2017 when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Mack opened up his giant furniture store and warehouse to anyone left without a place to sleep. In recent years he showed this generosity three more times as he opened his store for those suffering from tropical storm Imelda, the Texas power crisis of 2021, and Hurricane Ida, which decimated the neighboring state of Louisiana. I am certain that he will be able to do some good with his winnings.

So even after all of the silver linings, you may be annoyed at the Astros and that is completely justified. They tampered with the integrity of a 150-year-old institution and stole winning seasons from several fanbases. However, it is important that we move on from the scandals that occurred and cheer for the good as it is unfair to those in the Astros organization who are, in fact, fair players. So while you can still boo José Altuve all you like, let’s applaud Jeremy Peña, Dusty Baker, and even Mattress Mack for a well-played, hard-fought season, and for continued competition for years to come.


Ethan Lee can be reached at ejlee@wesleyan.edu.

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