If you haven’t heard by now, the Houston Astros organization engineered a system that allows their batters to gain a significant advantage by knowing when a fastball pitch is coming versus an off-speed pitch (Curveball, slider, etc). The system was player driven, and was centered around the use of their center field camera in Minute Maid Park. They were able to see the signals from the catcher to the pitcher, which relayed back to the Astros dugout, where they would code their signs with banging on a trash can. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred granted the Astros players immunity from any punishment as long as they cooperated and laid out the details of the scheme. The Red Sox fired Manager Alex Cora, who was on the Astros staff during the scandal, and the Mets did the same with recently signed Carlos Beltran, while the MLB suspended Astros Manager AJ Hinch for the season, fined their team five million dollars, and striped them of their first and second round draft picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
Despite those punishments, other MLB players as well as fans want more discipline on the Astros, including stripping the Team of the 2017 World Series pennant. Players such as Trevor Bauer, Nick Markakis, Mike Trout, and more have voiced their displeasure on how the punishment was handled, and I for one agree. It’s ridiculous for a team to have a clear advantage over the rest of the league and not have steeper consequences. It took the Astros seven games to beat the Yankees in the ALCS, and another seven to beat the Dodgers in the World Series with this advantage. I know it’s in hindsight now but if they didn’t have this scheme implemented then they would have most likely lost to the Yankees and not have even appeared in the World Series. Some players are upset with former Astros Pitcher Mike Fiers for spilling this information to MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal, like retired Hall of Fame Pitcher Pedro Martinez who said and I quote “Whatever happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse and Fiers broke the rules." Red Sox legend David Ortiz was also critical of Fiers and said that he looked like a ‘Snitch’ for exposing the scandal. I do believe that Fiers was coming from a place of bitterness rather than genuine concern for the game of baseball, and him exposing the organization after he’s had his ‘success’ with the Astros doesn’t make him a hero, just the messenger of the problem.
That being said, there is still a lot more content that hasn’t been surfaced yet in this story, so we will see how it develops over the coming weeks and months, but hopefully there will be more punishments added soon for the Astros. Download the PDF below for the other topics of the week!
So, who wins?
This game is tough to call as there are valid reasons to be made for both units. The Chiefs have the best Quarterback talent we’ve seen since prime Aaron Rodgers, and he can make any throw in the book. We saw the comeback in the divisional round against the Texans where he took it to another gear after being down 24. The Niners have also shown their ability to win in tough positions at the end of the regular season against teams like the Saints and Seahawks. After researching the analytics and tendencies of both these teams, I decided to go with the San Francisco 49ers as the winner. The 49ers have destroyed every below average run defense they have played this season, and the Chiefs 29th ranking has me concerned if they are down late. I expect a high scoring game which made me consider the Chiefs in this one, as the better QB is the safer bet, but the 49ers have played in a lot of those close games this season, and they showed up prepared for those moments. The Chiefs have had it easy over the latter half of the season and may start out slow. Kyle Shanahan’s west coast zone run scheme can also take time for defenses to adjust to on the field, and with the weaknesses of the Chiefs on defense, that could be a huge problem early. Pat Mahomes and Andy Reid will make this a close game as that combo will figure out some ways to get space for those receivers, but in the end, I’m going with the better overall team in the Niners.
I’m glad these two teams are in the Super Bowl to give us a compelling matchup with a lot of speed on the field. Expect a good matchup and enjoy the game this Sunday (or the commercials, or halftime show…. whatever floats your boat.)