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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Go ahead, Yankees fans, trash the cheating Astros

A fan holds a sign before a game

A fan holds a sign before a game between the Yankees and the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The 2017 Astros cheated and, for the most part, got away with it.

So did the 2009 Yankees (probably). Or did Alex Rodriguez only use steroids in years in which the Yankees didn’t win a World Series?

So, most likely, did the great Yankees dynasty of the late ’90s-early 2000s. Does the name Roger Clemens ring a bell? And there had to be others on those teams who used PEDs. It was all the rage during that era.

The Yankees started a pitcher against the Astros on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium in Domingo German who is back this season from a domestic violence suspension.

 

The Yankees have a closer who has been unhittable in 2021. They acquired Aroldis Chapman when his value was down because he, too, was facing a suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.

Who knows? Maybe Babe Ruth once ate a juiced-up hot dog during his reign as the Sultan of Swat.

None of this is to say the fans who gave the Astros the loudest Bronx cheers in recent memory – especially for a COVID-19 reduced sellout crowd of 10,850 – weren’t 100% right to vent their spleens on Tuesday night during the Yankees’ satisfying 7-3 victory.

You pay your money, you get to say pretty much whatever you want. I would never tell fans not to boo, whether it’s Mets fans jeering disappointing $341 million man Francisco Lindor or Yankees fans letting the Astros have it for their sign-stealing shenanigans.

It’s just that no organization is without skeletons in its clubhouse. Some misbehavior has larger societal implications. Some are just about sports and the concept of fair play.

What the Astros did wasn’t "illegal," as so many have said and written. It was against the rules of baseball, which is enough for the Astros to join the 1919 Black Sox in baseball infamy.

But all these issues are fair game for you to boo if you want to. Or to turn your back on the sport entirely, as some have no doubt done because of steroids, or domestic violence, or politics, or perhaps even because the Astros still get to keep their tainted title from 2017.

Boy, does that stick in Yankee fans’ craws. Can’t blame ’em. The creative signs and the blow-up trash cans and the R-rated chants -- especially the ones directed at Jose Altuve -- are proof the fans aren’t over it.

Nor should they be.

What the Astros were proven to have done was so organized, so brazen, so obviously against the rules, and so worthy of condemnation.

So let Altuve have it this week for stealing the 2017 AL MVP from Aaron Judge.

Let Alex Bregman know you’re no fan of electronic sign-stealing and his half-hearted apologies.

Tell Carlos Correa you don’t appreciate trash-can banging as a way to transmit information from the dugout to the batter’s box.

The Astros cheated the Yankees out of a chance to win the 2017 World Series. That is not in dispute.

The Astros might have cheated the Yankees out of a chance to win the 2019 World Series, too. It sure looked as if Altuve knew what was coming out of Chapman’s hand when he ended with ALCS with a walkoff two-run home run in the ninth inning of Game 6 at Minute Maid Park.

What, the Astros just stopped after 2018? That’s what MLB would have us believe. Baseball’s investigators couldn’t find enough evidence of 2019 malfeasance to punish the Astros for that year, too.

There were rumors of buzzers in 2019, never proven. Who knows?

Most of the 2017 Astros aren’t on the team anymore. This is the first chance for these fans to give their opinions since the scandal didn’t break until the winter of 2019, and there were no fans in the stands for most of 2020.

"We kind of expected that reception," said Astros manager Dusty Baker. "We'll probably get some more tomorrow and the next day."

Count on it.

Baker – one of the true gentlemen of baseball who was not with the Astros in 2017 – wants to know why we can’t all just move on.

Yankees fans know why: Because the Astros, for the most part, got away with it. That by itself deserves three days of booing.


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