Astros cheat way to World Series

Tyler's Talk Time Vol. 4: Sports editor gives personal take on 2017 World Series

Houston+Astros+exposed+for+cheating+during+their+riveting+championship+season.

Tom Hagerty

Houston Astros exposed for cheating during their riveting championship season.

Tyler Luker, Co-Editor and Sports Editor

   As a lifelong Los Angeles Dodgers fan, hearing MLB announcer Joe Buck exclaim “The Houston Astros are world champions!” after Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager grounded out to end the 2017 World Series crushed my spirit.

     The Houston Astros have been exposed for using a camera to illegally steal signs during their championship season.

     I had watched around 160 Dodger games or so that year and saw the magic they created when out on the field. When they fell apart in the World Series, I was shocked. My heart was completely torn out of my chest because I was so invested in the team. 

     I still believe that was the best team I ever saw play baseball. I saw two games versus the Minnesota Twins at Dodger Stadium over the summer and the team didn’t disappoint. In the first game on July 24, Cody Bellinger, the eventual rookie of the year winner, led a rally in a 6-4 win with a three-run home run in the eighth inning. 

     The team staged another comeback in the second game I attended on July 26 and ended it with a walk-off win. Utility man Chase Utley started it off with a two-run double in the seventh inning, closing the deficit to one run and second baseman Logan Forsythe hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to tie the game.

     Fan-favorite Justin Turner finished the game with a two-out base hit in the ninth inning, scoring catcher Austin Barnes. The team I saw in Los Angeles was not the same team I watched crumble in October. 

     They always seemed to come back when they were down and didn’t have a true weakness. The Dodgers finished the season with a record of 104-58 and a .704 winning percentage at home.

     They cruised throughout the playoffs, losing only one game in matchups with the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs.

     Known choker Clayton Kershaw was finally producing in the playoffs, including his historically dominant Game One start in the World Series, allowing only one run on three hits and striking out 11 batters in seven innings of work. 

     It was surprising when he blew a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning and a 7-4 lead in the fifth inning of Game Five. Since 2012, the Dodgers were 49-1 (even in the playoffs) when Kershaw had a four-run lead and he blew it on the biggest stage. 

     It was strange to see the Astros figure him out so quickly after being unhittable a few days earlier. Everything makes sense now. The Astros knew what kind of pitches were coming when Kershaw pitched in Game Five because they were using a camera to illegally steal signs.

     Kershaw wasn’t the only one who suffered from the Astros cheating though. Pitcher Yu Darvish was ran out of town after he had two bad starts in Game Three and Game Seven, respectively. Game Seven was in Los Angeles, but there is a big chance that game would have never taken place if the Astros never cheated. 

     He was even better than Kershaw in the playoffs and the Astros torched him for nine runs in only 3 1/2 innings, giving him an earned run average of 21.60 in the World Series. 

     Darvish signed with the Chicago Cubs in the off-season and one of the reasons he left was because he felt like his children wouldn’t be safe in Los Angeles because of how he played in the World Series. That is absolutely heartbreaking. 

     The reputations and legacies of these two players have taken major hits for choking in the World Series and may never recover. Kershaw has lost the trust of his fanbase and has continued to choke in big moments and Darvish has never been the same.

     Manager Dave Roberts also shouldered a lot of the blame from the World Series loss for his decisions in the bullpen. He was slammed for overusing Kenley Jansen and Brandon Morrow after they both imploded in different games. We now know that a major reason these two pitchers were beat up on by the Astros was because Houston was cheating. 

     Roberts, along with Kershaw and Darvish should be forgiven for their shortcomings in the 2017 World Series because of the cheating scandal coming out.

     Statistics back up the Astros cheating in the playoffs as well. Star players like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa had much better stats at home than away. Altuve had a batting average of .472 at home and .173 on the road and his on base plus slugging percentage was over 1000 points higher at home. Catcher Brian McCann was a beast at home with a .300 batting average but was a liability on the road with an abysmal batting average of .037.

     The punishments the Astros received for this scandal were very weak. It was a glorified slap on the wrist. They were fined five million dollars, they lost their first and second round draft picks from 2020 and 2021 and manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one year (before being fired). The 2017 title should be vacated. That team does not deserve the title of champion. What they did to the game was an absolute disgrace.

     Alex Cora, former bench coach for the 2017 Astros and former manager for the 2018 Boston Red Sox, was fired by the Red Sox because he was the ringleader of the cheating scandal. He is still awaiting his suspension, but should be banned for life. What he did is despicable and he shouldn’t be allowed near the game ever again.

     The 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers won’t go down in history as champions, but they definitely need to be remembered. It is truly a tragedy that they lost to cheaters and couldn’t end their 29-year (now 31-year) title drought. 

     Dodger fans like me had to go through the pain of back-to-back World Series losses thinking it was because our team wasn’t good enough, but in reality, they were fighting an uphill battle trying to beat teams that were cheating.