How the Houston Astros became the villains of baseball

As Jose Altuve stepped up to the plate during game four on the 2021 ALDS in Chicago, he was berated by boos from opposing fans. Carlos Rodon, the White Sox’ ace pitcher, started the at-bat with a ball. The second pitch sped at 95 miles per hour straight into Altuve’s elbow, and the crowd erupted into applause. Altuve was once one of the faces of baseball, and a hero to baseball fans across the globe. However, the roles have switched, and Rodon is now the hero for nailing him in the elbow. The Houston Astros have quickly become hated. How did we get here?

Despite being founded in 1962, the Astros are seen as a newer, less historic, expansion team. Expansion teams are newer teams created to spread the influence of baseball and make more money for the league. During the 2010s, the Astros rose to fame as they equipped themselves with star pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. Also, star position players like Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve helped expand the popularity of the team. Fans were entertained to see a new and fresh team on the block. In late 2016, Houston began planning a different approach to how they played.

In 2017, the Astros won over 100 games and were well on their way to the playoffs. They defeated the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS and the New York Yankees in the ALCS, both teams with legendary statuses. In an intense 7-game World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Astros proved victorious and won their first World Series ring. After that fantastic season, the Astros gained notability among fans and players across the nation. What fans didn’t know is that throughout the entire season the Astros had been stealing signs illegally.

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In both 2018 and 2019, the Astros scored above .600, gaining two division titles and one pennant. At the same time, the league was looking into the possibility that the Astros weren’t playing a fair game. Houston had been viewing a live feed of the game (including the passing of signs between the pitcher and catcher) and banging a garbage can a certain number of times depending on the pitch. Through this, the hitter understood what pitch was coming. Justice came in January 2020 when the league released their investigation and fined the Astros for $5 million. Astro’s manager AJ Hinch received a one-year suspension, and Houston lost their first and second-round picks for 2020 and 2021.

The Houston Astros have faced many difficulties within the past two years, as they have been bullied by fans and players alike. However, they are still a postseason contender. Now, as I am writing this, the Houston Astros are two wins away from another World Series ring. Their opponent is the Atlanta Braves, a fierce team that has become one of America’s favorites. In a best of seven series, the Braves are leading 3-2. You can watch Game 6 of the 2021 World Series Tuesday on Fox. The broadcasters have continued to refer to the past cheating of the Astros, so you aren’t going want to miss the broadcast. Do you think with the Astros recent past that America is firmly on the Braves’ side?

Jude Danner is a freshman member of The Quill