When we talk about the 2017 World Series that the Houston Astros stole, we mostly focus on the regular season – where the electronic sign-stealing scheme was in full swing – and the World Series, where Yu Darvish was getting blown up and agonized that he was tipping pitches somehow and was letting down the people of Los Angeles.
We don’t talk as much about the Astros’ path after the regular season, but before the World Series. In the ALDS that year, the Astros beat the Red Sox 3-1, and followed by beating the Yankees 4-3 in the ALCS, notably with every single game won by the home team.
Four and a half years later, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman is still not over it:
Yankees GM Brian Cashman says his team would have won the World Series in 2017 had it not been for "illegal and horrific" actions by the Astros.
"I get offended when I start hearing we haven't been to the World Series since '09."https://t.co/v5n54cvUcT
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) March 31, 2022
“The only thing that stopped [us] was something that was so illegal and horrific,” Cashman told The Athletic at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “So I get offended when I start hearing we haven’t been to the World Series since ’09. Because I’m like, ‘Well, I think we actually did it the right way.’ Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off.”
Cashman was not howling with rage or screeching about injustice. His tone was level. It is true, he reasoned, that the Yankees have not won since 2009. It is also true that during that time period, the club stood one victory away from the World Series, only to fall to a club later discovered to be cheating.
“It does bother me when people say we haven’t been to the World Series since ’09,” Cashman continued. “We did it all right, by building it to a certain level that could have gotten us to a World Series — if not for something else.
Seems pretty fair to point out, no? In a 4-3 series with all the games won at home (we know the Astros were likely doing their thing on the road that year, too, but they were DEFINITELY doing it in earnest at home), without the cheating, it’s pretty plausible the Yankees win one of those four games in Houston. If I were a Yankees fan – or a Yankees GM – I wouldn’t be over it yet either.
What if the Cubs had beat the Dodgers in the NLCS that year, by the way? It was not, ultimately, a particularly close series, but imagine the Cubs got over the strain of the NLDS against Washington, imagine Joe Maddon doesn’t pull John Lackey out of the bullpen, and that series goes differently? And then the Cubs are the team in the World Series, going for the extremely rare back-to-back wins, and they lose to the Astros, who are later discovered to have been cheating? What would that parallel universe look like?
I actually haven’t given it much thought since, you know, it didn’t happen (and, again, wasn’t ALL THAT close to happening). But since we’re so many years removed, and since we’re talking about the ALCS, it does get my hypothetical mind turning. I can say for sure, if it had played out like that, I would’ve been more enraged by the Astros than I could even type coherently. I’m getting fake mad just thinking about it.
Maybe that helps me better understand, too, why there were some hardcore Yankees fans that – no matter what – were never going to accept Carlos Correa on the team. Purportedly the Yankees didn’t seriously pursue Correa because of their long-term internal fits at shortstop in the farm system, but when has that actually ever stopped the Yankees from spending (especially on a guy who wound up taking a short-term deal)? I’m not saying the Yankees would pass on a superstar like Correa because a chunk of the fanbase hates and will never forgive him, but again, now that I put myself in some different shoes … I wonder. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to get over it.