October 26, 2022
Between back-to-back AL pennants, three in the last four seasons, and six consecutive trips to the ALCS, the Houston Astros have become Major League Baseball's new model for success.
Problem is, no matter what they do, they'll likely never escape that dark cloud in the shape of a trash can hanging over them.
In 2017, the Houston Astros won the World Series. Two years later, The Athletic exposed the electric sign-stealing system they used on the way to it.
With a camera set up in Minute Maid Park's outfield and various means of relaying signals – the banging of a trash can near Houston's dugout the most infamous – The '17 Astros, even with a stacked roster on its own, won 101 games then, on the way to the world title, beat the New York Yankees, 4-3, in the best-of-seven ALCS.
That Yankees squad had Joe Girardi as its manager and Rob Thomson as its bench coach. The defeat cost Girardi his job and set up for Thomson to leave in 2018 for Gabe Kapler's coaching staff in Philadelphia among the other shockwaves and ripple effects the scandal sent throughout baseball.
Now, as the full-time manager, Thomson's Phillies will face the Astros in the World Series beginning Friday with Game 1 down in Houston.
On Wednesday, Thomson was asked about 2017 and any lingering concerns from it. He said he isn't so much concerned about the Astros potentially stealing signs again as he is the idea of giving them something to steal.
"It's not just the Astros," Thomson said. "I think we're constantly looking at our pitchers, our infielders, our catchers, as to, 'Are they ever giving something away?' Whether it's pitches, whether it's location, that type of thing. For me personally, there's no extra motivation just because of that to beat the Astros. I just want to win a World Series."
The follow-up question was if there was any bitterness from the Astros "bending the rules" a few years back. Thomson simply replied "No."
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