Baseball Remembers The Cheaters

When I was a kid, my grandfather Mays gave me his copy of the “Encyclopedia of Baseball.” At the time, it was a one volume set that kept all the records of every team, every player, from the very beginning of the sport.

More than perhaps any other sport, baseball is obsessed with its past, with its stats, and with its history. I used to love to scan through this volume to look up the stats on players of old, and compare them to players of the 1970s. (The height of my childhood baseball fandom…)

Much later, when I read WP Kinsella’s “Field of Dreams” novel, I was intrigued by the character of “Doc Graham” (Played in the movie by Burt Lancaster…). Something made me “look him up.” And, sure enough, there was “Archibald Graham” in the official stats of the Baseball Encyclopedia…an actual guy named …mythologized by Kinsella, but an actual player whose stats were preserved in amber for all to see.

It gave me chills, and still does.

Baseball is a game governed by its rules, and baseball is a game that does not abide cheating. I learned this very hard lesson as a child, because of the behavior of my all-time favorite player, Pete Rose.

Pete Rose was, and is, a cheater, a liar, a thief.

He was also, next to Ty Cobb, the greatest player who ever played; and you could make an argument that his entire life was somehow channeling that Cobb legacy. But he was rightly banished from baseball for breaking the rules. Because of my own sense of forgiveness and compassion, I personally believe it’s past time to forgive him, and restore him to his rightful place in the baseball universe. But, he’s still unrepentant and still doing and saying outrageous things today.

Pete Rose will someday be in heaven, but I fairly well doubt he’ll ever in the HOF in his, or my, lifetime. This is the way it is…because of the respect for the rules of the game.

Which gets me to the Houston Astros.

They will, forever, be adjudicated cheaters whose cinderella World Series story a few years back was actually a lie. Perhaps even a demonstrably MORE egregious lie than Rose’s in that the cheating clearly benefited the actual team that year, and clearly harmed their rivals that year in game after game.

Their adjudicated cheating spanned two seasons, and an actual World Series, that they did not win fairly. It was not a century ago. It was SIX YEARS ago…a blink in baseball.

(Further footnote: the WSJ and other repudable sources have found credible evidence that their cheating spanned even MORE seasons than was officially adjudicated…)

God knows what moves *other* teams made, in terms of their personelle and future history, because they believed they lost to these cheating Astros. Meaning: It’s a scandal that didn’t just benefit *them,* it harmed every other team they played, and the choices those teams made.

Facts: Virtually every starter on their 2017 World Series team was cheating.
Facts: 75% of that cheating infield was still on the team in 2022 when Houston fans falsely believe their previous cheating was redeemed.

Watch the documentary from FrontLine, and understand…in an earlier era, *many* of these players would have been out of the game.
Check out the clear evidence from an actual Astros fan, who proved the vast scale of this scandal. Yes, every player on their squad is talented. Yes, even without the cheating, they’d have been an amazing team these past seven years. But that stain in on them, even now, not matter what my Houston friends tell me.

Their fans, like too many Pete Rose fans, want you to forget that, and move on.

They’re not cheaters any more.
They play by the rules, so they tell us.

“Just look at Altuve’s sweet smile…”

During the last Astros/Rangers game, Bryan Abreu intentionally hit Adolis Garcia. Whatever you think of that last sentence, whatever “opinion” you have about it, here is the factual truth:

This sentence —this assertion that Abreu intentionally hit him— has now been adjudicated by six major league umpires and a review of the MLB.

This is their ruling. In the world of baseball, this is the record that gets preserved.
Full stop.

Astros’ fans total unwillingness to cut ties with their cheaters is maddening. I mean, my Texas Rangers were deeply involved in the steriods scandals, and Rafael Palmeiro is still dead to me. Same with Caseco. And A-Rod? Just another of the many reasons we have to hate that guy. By the time we made our World Series’ runs, only two accused players remained, neither of whom was implicated as guilty by the official Mitchell Report, and both of whom have credible stories refuting any lingering allegations against them.

Altuve? He cheated. There is no question he did, and no sweet smile can hide it.
Abreu? He cheated too…and baseball officially says so.
Even Dusty Baker –sitting in that dug out– well after he’s been thrown out of the game…he iced our pitcher. He unlawfully delayed the game.

And today, Astros fans have the GALL to criticize Adolis Garcia’s brash play, suggesting Altuve (the cheater) is the better role model? These teams have bad blood that goes back to midseason. Everybody knows this. Garcia was RIGHT to be angry. Rangers fans are RIGHT to call Houston cheaters, even now.

Do you want to believe that the “Chicago Black Sox” were robbed?
Doesn’t matter what you think, the adjudication is that they were cheaters.

Do you want to believe that Pete Rose is a good guy who should be in the Hall?
Doesn’t matter what you think, the adjudication is that he was a cheater.

Do you want to say that the Houston Astros should be forgiven for their own past cheating?
Doesn’t matter what you think, like the Black Sox, that team will always and forever be…adjudicated as “cheaters” and anyone who factually reminds you of this history is absolutely within their rights to do so.

Whatever your opinion of what happened the other night —whatever Dusty Baker’s opinion or any other pundits opinion— the official record, to be preserved forever by MLB— is that Bryan Abreu intentionally hit Adolis Garcia.

Full stop.

It’s a painful thing when our heroes are adjudicated as cheats or rule breakers.

But “that’s the way baseball go.”

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