Play Ball


When someone that you love gets into some trouble it is such a horrible feeling, a combination of sorrow, disappointment, anger, confusion. Such an event elicits a desire to rant along with a determination to protect. It involves so many mixed emotions that often make little sense. It induces anxieties and maybe even sleepless nights. Negativity mixed with love for the offender makes for difficult days. Somehow in the long run there is always a way to muddle through.

So it is for me in learning that my Houston Astros have been accused and found guilty of cheating. Their supposed crime is sign stealing during their run to the World Series in 2017. As though the city of Houston has not lost enough through floods and and disappointing football teams, now our hometown heroes have been branded with the scarlet letter of cheating and insinuations that our glorious victory was tainted. It is a stunning accusation that Major League Baseball seems to think has been proven beyond enough doubt to garner severe penalties for the team, including a stiff fine and suspensions of the Manager and General Manager. Now there is an asterisk on all that they have accomplished and a doubt that they would have been champions without cheating.

The team is in a state of turmoil since the General Manager and Manager have been fired. It’s lost one of its best pitchers to the New York Yankees whose pockets are so deep that they are able to buy whatever they want, and the fans are feeling mixed emotions. Some insist that sign stealing is a national pastime that every team does and others think that the whole scandal is a black spot on a city that works hard to be good. It remains to be seen how it will all play out in the end, but I suspect that the road ahead will be difficult for everyone, but not impossible. It’s one of those situations when opportunities to learn from mistakes will either be heeded or not. The team can grow from the experience and continue to thrive or it can ignore what has happened and suffer hard times ahead.

I’m a believer in redemption. We are an imperfect lot that makes mistakes continually throughout our lifetimes. Without forgiveness we would be doomed, but the consequences of our choices matter. So the Astros need to pay their dues and then move on like the champions that I believe they really are. I still have great faith in the team. I don’t believe that they needed any kind of sign stealing to win which makes the so called infraction doubly hard to bear.

In all honesty I still can’t imagine that the scheme actually worked all that well. It would have taken a rapid response for someone to see the sign picked up by the camera and then bang a signal on a garbage can before the pitch was actually thrown. It sounds a bit far fetched to me to think that such a thing happened on a regular basis and it certainly didn’t happen when the team was out of town. I also wonder how something like that was kept silent for so long. People always talk and surely if it was really as rampant as supposed there would have been more than one whistleblower. I still have my doubts and wonder if it’s more a matter of sour grapes. Whatever the case it’s the lingering doubt that will always overshadow everything those incredible athletes achieved.

I will always love my Astros. I’ve watched them in a makeshift stadium and the Astrodome. I’ve seen the days of Nolan Ryan and the Killer B’s. I’ve heard my mother’s radio tuned to every game for years and even witnessed her watching them on the day she died. She was their number one fan and I know that she would never turn her back on them no matter how much they disappointed her. I hope the present day fans will be as loyal. As a city we need to show them that we’ve got their backs but also that we expect them to be more circumspect in the things they do.

I hear that there may also be some problems with the Red Sox for the same kind of reasons. They are my number three favorite team behind the Astros and the Cubs respectively. I hope that they weather the storm well too, because I have a problem with both the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers and their tendencies to throw around money and accusations to reinforce their teams. There is more to our country than the two coasts and it’s time something were done to make it possible for the little guys to do as well as the big shots. Sports has become all about business and money even in colleges and high schools. Little wonder that there is so much desperation to win at any cost.

Spring is coming and I hope that our Astros know that we love them. It’s a long season and they will need a good attitude to survive the onslaught that will no doubt follow them for a time. If they can keep their heads high and demonstrate the integrity that we know they have, they will survive. Play ball!