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Welcome To Case's Column

Let me say a big welcome to all of you for joining me here. I'm going to call these blog meetings Case's Column. I wanted to use "Corner", but that was already taken. Since 2008, it's been a real privilege to come on here and share some of my life with you, and it's a big world where we live.

In these blogs, I'll just speak whatever is on my mind, but we will be playing within the rules here. I may pick a particular topic, point out an event, or shoot the breeze. I'm a little bit of an essayist at times, so I'll just speak what's on my mind, and I might tell a story or two. Or, I might spew out an opinion or three. There will be some serious moments, some tender, some poignant, but there will also be those moments that you'll just bust out laughing. But, hopefully, everything will be in good fun here. And, of course, there's a place below for your comments and thoughts as we go along here. So feel free to join me for the ride -- I sure as heck hope I'm doing this right and not making any mistakes.

Thanks for taking your time in reading Case's Column. Hopefully, you'll enjoy being entertained by it as much as I've enjoyed putting these writings together. And thanks for the time you spend in City-Data.com, where it's great to be alive!



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The Sports World Just Needs To Let Go Of The Houston Astros' Cheating Scandal

Posted 12-30-2023 at 04:46 PM by case44
Updated 12-30-2023 at 05:26 PM by case44

The year is about to become 2024 as I write this, but to some sports gurus, folks have bad feelings that they choose to carry around. In my view, too many sports fans (just like in politics and other areas of life) have serious chips on their shoulders. To some out there, it is still a certain year all over again as if it would never leave. You think about that now, but I'll get to it in due course.

And with all that just said, people have sports teams that they don't like. You have archrivals and then you have other clubs who either get the spotlight or the afterthought, depending on how they do.

In baseball, you have all kinds of stories. The legendary players. The places these guys played at. The history. The races. The wild outcomes. And then you have the controversies that sports often comes across. The Black Sox scandal. Pete Rose's alleged betting on baseball. The steroid craze. And let's not forget the frequent labor problems which led to work stoppages in a few of those seasons.

Now, we have the year of 2017. It was a year in which most everything went right for the Houston Astros. They'd just moved to the American League after fifty-one years in the National League and had been moderately successful for a few parts of its long run. The Astros had seen some postseason success, getting involved in some of Major League Baseball's most thrilling and exciting playoff games. Houston managed to get into just one World Series during its time in the NL, although I think they should have gotten in in 1980 and 1986, at least. They did so in 2005 and proceeded to get stomped and swept by the Chicago White Sox.

A few years later, the Astros agreed to a move to the American League when then-commissioner Bud Selig wanted to even out the leagues with some slight realignment and create more excitement for the fans. In 2013, Houston's baseballers had begun a decade-long Opening Day win streak which ended this past year. Then-general manager Jeff Luhnow was put in charge of methodically jettisoning out veteran players and building through the draft, and he got the Astros high draft picks for three-year period. The goal was to create a sustainable winner over time. Not just something in the water, you know. It ended up working and paying off. So much so that Astros players such as George Springer (now with the Toronto Blue Jays) and Jose Altuve were pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a staff writer there had made a bold prediction in 2014. That prediction was that Houston would win it all in 2017.

Talk about being a good mind-reader!

The Astros were getting more consistency in the postseason, and in 2017, a lot of things were going the club's way. Longtime first baseman Jeff Bagwell was finally inducted into Cooperstown, and Hurricane Harvey tried to wreak havoc on Southeast Texas during a small portion of that season, providing the feel-good story a growing franchise needed to have. Players were having career years, and the Astros acquired Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers just mere seconds before the trade deadline in August.

Soon thereafter, pure magic! Houston would finally become the first Texas MLB team to win a World Series, twelve years after they'd been the Lone Star State's first in it. Champions at Minute Maid, as they took Game 7 of that World Series in Dodger Stadium against Los Angeles' Dodgers.

The Astros became the darlings of baseball, as they'd gained some respect in the sports media and amongst fans for that impressive rebuild and the results of it that got them that championship. Along the way, Houston would be in three more Fall Classics and would win the one in 2022, which, to this day, I still consider an instant classic all its own.

But something happened late in 2019, and it wasn't very good. Former Astro pitcher Mike Fiers (at the time, a player for the Oakland Athletics), opened his mouth and got vocal about something no one would have expected. Fiers was alleging that the Astros "weren't playing the game the right way" and that players "were stealing signs from opposing catchers." Wow. And as it would eventually turn out, the Astros were caught during a subsequent league investigation which discovered center-field cameras and trash cans. Such had cost them manager A.J. Hinch and GM Luhnow. What a shame. Houston was docked first and second round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. In addition, the Boston Red Sox had also gotten caught up in similar occurrences, and what's happened was, the real culprit of both incidents, Alex Cora, had faced suspension. Cora had been the bench coach for Houston and the Red Sox manager in 2018, and he even admitted to the scandal and was very vocal about it. Former Astro player Carlos Beltran was also implicated in this. As far as the rest of the team, I seriously wouldn't believe that any of them would willfully cheat just to give them an advantage.

The Astros would eventually move past this nightmare with the hiring of Dusty Baker to provide a calm needed in a tense situation. Broadcaster Joe Buck had mentioned in an interview with a Dallas radio station that players and fans need to move on from the 2017 scandal. I agree. MLB players Chris Sale, Chris Bassitt, and Lucas Giolito all concur, adding that many players throughout the league do some small form of cheating at one time or another, but not egregiously. As a fan, I just think about the positive things done to accomplish that 2017 crown, because good things did happen. Tainted or not, the Astros won it and nothing can change that. I still maintain that nothing is guaranteed even if you know what pitch is coming. You might get a home run, but you could just as easily get a groundout. Or, as anyone might do, you could swing and miss.

Folks, let's please move on from 2017. Too much baseball has happened since then. The Houston Astros' accomplishments are legit and don't need in any way to be questioned. Besides, there's more cheating in politics than there is in sports. Heck, much of the bad things that happen in baseball would be enough to make a Democrat blush. Baseball will have new accomplishments and some new scandals as we go along. Move on! It's what real fans should do.

So, let's face it, haters are going to hate. That's how it is in sports, no matter the team. The Houston Astros and other MLB franchises are in no way perfect. Houston still has legendary players who have played the game and have experienced individual success. They're not the villains that some people in the sports media and fandom choose to make them out to be. Quite the contrary in real life, in fact. Haters will do what they do, but I have not soured on the Astros, and as a fan of this great franchise, it will maintain its place in my life.

And let's remember that, despite their ALCS loss in 2023, the Astros are still contenders and continue to have unfinished business, along with a few goals. What's more, they'll be doing things the right way.
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  1. Old Comment
    I don’t want to say that similar things will happen with the Astros, but Philadelphia Eagles fans had to endure the repercussions of booing a guy in a Santa outfit (some say he was inebriated) 40 years after the incident. Closer to home, Oklahoma fans still occasionally bring up the ending to the 2005 Texas Tech football game (Henderson was over the goal line as ruled, in my view).

    Anyway, my guess is that all of those things, plus the Astros’ stuff, will still be brought up, but the younger generations will (eventually) get bored of the discussion.
    Posted 12-30-2023 at 09:14 PM by shoe01 shoe01 is offline

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