It has happened only once in recorded history.
Back in 2001, not long after the 9/11 attacks, MLB America rooted for the New York Yankees to win in the postseason.
For sure, it was weird. But, indeed, it was fitting, given all that had happened to the city that never sleeps.
And while there isn’t a gut-wrenching reason this time around, there’s no doubt that baseball fans everywhere should be rooting for the Yankees, starting tonight as they open the American League Championship Series against the Astros in Houston.
The Yankees are the clear underdogs. The Astros are expected to win and advance to the World Series again.
But we can’t have it.
We won’t, can’t embrace the cheating Astros.
Yes, we said it: The cheating Astros.
For sure, the Astros faithful will push back. They want to believe that their team’s cheating scandal — they used technology to steal signs of opposing teams during the 2017 and 2018 seasons — is a thing of the past and we should forget and move on.
It’s not happening anytime soon.
The details and depth of their cheating can’t be overlooked or forgotten.
Mike Fiers, a pitcher for Houston in 2017, told The Athletic back then that the organization used a video camera in the center field seats to film the opposing catcher’s signals to the pitcher regarding the upcoming pitch.
The Astros and staffers watched the live camera feed behind the dugout and used different ways to tell their batter what pitch was coming, including banging a garbage can.
MLB caught them dead to rights and issued punishment to the franchise.
In 2020, MLB also confirmed that the Astros used their cheating system during the 2017 regular season and postseason, during which they won the World Series.
That’s why baseball fans can’t get over this whole thing. That’s why they are still the most hated team in baseball.
No one outside of the state of Texas wants to see them have another shot at winning the title.
That’s why you gotta root for the Yankees again.
They CAN stop these Astros, especially if the game is above board.
This Yankees team isn’t hard to root for, either. They have many likable players, starting with Aaron Judge, who set the A.L. record for homers in a single season with 62, breaking Roger Maris’ record of 61 which stood for 61 years.
He’s a great player, a better person. Hard not to want to see him succeed.
And it’s not like the Yankees have been winning every year. For sure, that can be annoying. Back in the late 90s, they were a dynasty. They won four World Series in five seasons, including three in a row in 1998, 1999, and 2000.
But it’s been a minute since they won it all. The last time the Bronx Bombers were champs was in 2009. In the Yankee universe, that’s a huge drought.
The hardest part about rooting against Houston is manager Dusty Baker, who wasn’t the skipper when the cheating was rampant.
Baker was bought in to clean up the mess.
Baker has done everything a manager could in his career — except win a World Series. This could be his last shot.
Still, the Astros just don’t feel good, even this many years removed from the cheating stench.
Remember, the cheating is what helped this franchise win its only Fall Classic in team history.
The Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers both took the brunt of the Astros’ heist.
The Yankees lost to the Astros in the ALCS in 2017 in seven games. The Astros won all four games at home where they were banging garbage cans like crazy.
The Dodgers lost in the World Series that year. Somehow — wink, wink — the Astros’ bats were alive in Houston during that series. Cheating is hard to forgive and forget. Ask the New England Patriots. Despite winning six Super Bowls, many still never give that franchise all its due.
The same goes for the Astros. The last thing we want to see is an Astros player holding the championship trophy over their head in the ultimate bliss.
This time around, let’s hope it’s the Yankees left standing when the dust clears.
We can all cheer for that. Better yet, live with that, once again.