It was not supposed to be like this.
As the Houston Astros rounded for home in the baseball season, the local boys were poised to lay claim to the title of dynasty. Boasting a pitching staff headed with three aces and a lethal lineup, it seemed like nothing could get in the way of two titles in three years.
It already seems like the good old days.
Washington comes in hotter than the September sun we all know and love. Next thing you know, some Third World country is outfitted in Astro World Champion shirts and it is the Washington, D.C. sporting goods stores that open late to sell T-shirts.
Shortly after the season ended, there was a front office upheaval with Reid Ryan appearing to earn a less prestigious position. As far as icon Nolan Ryan is concerned, the Astros are persona non grata.
Then came the whammy.
The Astros have been accused of using technology to steal signs. Not simply guys in the dugout or on second stealing signs. The kind where you have hidden cameras. The charges date back to 2017, threatening to put an asterisk on the beloved world championship. If there is anything a Houston fan hates, it is being referred to as an asterisk champion.
It is up to the powers that be to determine if the charges warrant punishment. But given some of the video floating around, it might be necessary to resurrect Johnny Cochrane and the rest of the OJ freedom force.
Say it ain’t so, Jose.
A former Astro, Mike Fiers, made the initial charges and from there, other accusations have piled up. There is relatively little sympathy for the Astros who have gone from lovable underdogs to a franchise accused of having a culture of arrogance. It can be hard to see as a fan. Outside of losing, it is hard to do anything wrong.
But the haters are out there. It appears the loss to the Nationals was just the appetizer for those wanting to see the Astros flame out.
The question on most people’s mind, if you are not bogged down in politics, must be if found guilty, what is the punishment? Surely Major League wouldn’t take the championship away. Fines, loss of draft picks, international money or impose a salary cap would be anyone’s guess. Not that it really matters to the fans.
USC was stripped of its last two wins of its 2004 National Championship season and Oklahoma won the Orange Bowl on paper if not the national title. But it sure didn’t feel like a win by any stretch of the imagination for Sooner fans. Regardless of cheating, USC was the best team in the nation.
Strip the title if you dare MLB. It will not take away from the pride felt that fall. The team brought a city together in the wake of a devastating hurricane.
As for the Astros, for love of the game, get a grip and quit cheating.
Michael Pineda is the assistant managing editor for The Baytown Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com or 281-425-8018.