When the Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal was exposed in 2019, team owner Jim Crane wanted to make sure everyone knew the championship wasn’t tainted. “Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” Crane said. “We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.” Then-right fielder Josh Reddick chimed in with a similar sentiment: “I think it’s just a matter of, we’re still a good team and it wasn’t a necessary point of us winning. We still went out there and won ballgames on the road as well.”
Essentially, this argument boils down to “We were such a good team. It was only a matter of time before we won. The cheating wasn’t necessary, it just expedited the process.”
The team’s 2022 championship is evidence that both Crane and Reddick’s statements were true. They were good enough to win…so why cheat at all?
I know this 2022 team isn’t similar to the 2017 squad, but the Astros’ continued dominance since the 2017 World Series — three World Series appearances and five straight ALCS appearances — is evidence that even no matter how their team has changed over the years, the sentiment of those two statements above has remained intact.
This organization was so well-built from a player standpoint. Even after the cheating scandal was exposed, they reached the ALCS in the COVID-shortened 2020 season followed by two consecutive World Series appearances and a World Series title. They were built for the future. Everybody in the baseball world knew that the Astros would be contenders for years to come. Clearly, the 2017 series wasn’t their only shot to win it all.
I’m very happy for the 2022 Astros. I’m not minimizing this accomplishment. I’ve never been one of those haters who claimed that the Astros couldn’t win without cheating. That title is in the distant past. They’ve continued to win and win and win. I feel especially great for Jeremy Peña, Dusty Baker, Trey Mancini, Martín Maldonado, Mattress Mack, and the people of Houston who get their mattress money back. I’m not disparaging this moment for them or the city of Houston. They deserve it. However, I don’t know how anyone can look at this title and think it redeems the Astros’ franchise for their crimes in 2017.
Congrats to the Astros! You’ve been good for a very long time and deserve this championship. But you were arguably an even better team in 2017. You didn’t have to cheat, and although I hate continuing to bring it up five years removed, it needs to be said, because I just know there are going to be people claiming that this title absolves the 2017 Astros from any wrongdoing. It obviously doesn’t.