Which World Series Title is More Legitimate, 2017 or 2020?
With the stage of the 2020 World Series being set, some have asked, “How legitimate is the 2020 title?”
During a normal year, the MLB season has a total of 162 games, not including Spring Training. Typically, in July, the All-Star break is held. When the All-Star break happens, it marks the halfway point of the baseball season. Due to COVID-19, the MLB season was shortened to just a mere 60 games.
Not only was the season cut down but the playoff system was changed. The MLB playoff format used to consist of 10 teams that had automatic elimination to the losers of the Wild Card games. In 2020 though, the format was changed to 16 teams. Eight teams from each league, seeded in a manner that allows for teams with losing records to have a shot at a world title. The Wild Card games went from one, sudden-death game to a best of three series. The thinking behind this was to generate for T.V. time to make up for the loss in ticket revenue. So, my question is, which is more legitimate? The 2020 title or the 2017 title in which the Houston Astros cheated?
Let's take a moment to backtrack. It is well-known that the Houston Astros cheated their way to a World Series title in 2017. They used cameras in center field to pick off the signs given by catchers which then were relayed to the hitters using trash cans. That description is an extremely simplified version of the scandal.
Commissioner Robert Manfred didn’t suspend, let alone ban any players. Former general manager, Jeff Luhnow, along with field manager, A. J. Hinch, was suspended for the 2020 season. The Astros organization fired both Luhnow and Hinch once their suspensions were announced. The Boston Red Sox manager, Alex Cora was also suspended for his participation. Cora was a bench coach for the Astros in 2017. In the investigation, only one player was named and that was Carlos Beltran. Beltran was working for the New York Mets but parted ways with the organization once the news came to light.
The Houston Astros also faced a $5 million fine and lost draft picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts. The players were granted immunity because they cooperated with the investigation. That decision left many players, coaches, and fans angry. Many called for an asterisk to be placed on the 2017 title, essentially showing that the title doesn’t belong to the Astros. According to Jeff Luhnow, people who participated in the cheating scandal, still work for the team. Teams were told not to comment on their feelings regarding the evidence that was found. Because of the way the MLB handled the information, it has felt that the Astros were being protected even though they had cheated. There isn’t an asterisk, players didn’t face any consequences and the integrity of the game is forever tainted. The 2017 World Series is not legitimate.
Fast forward to now. The World Series is about to begin. The Houston Astros had a losing record and still made it all the way to the ALCS. The season was considerably short compared to normal years. We are in a pandemic that has had a major impact on millions of people worldwide. There are people who believe that the 2020 World Series isn’t legitimate because of the shortened season. However, I believe this year's World Series is more legitimate than the 2017 World Series.
The stakes for a postseason run are higher than ever because of the shortened season. Instead of 162 games to make the playoffs, there are only 60. Quite literally, it is a sprint to the end. The teams have had to make several adjustments to the game due to the pandemic. Many changes have taken place with COVID precautions. The playoff format was altered for the 2020 season. Rules have been added to speed the game up such as having a runner start on second base in extra innings.
At the end of the day, though many aspects of the game have changed due to COVID, the 2020 World Series is more legitimate than the 2017 championship. Teams have had to work harder to cram 60 games in. Each game counted more than ever. No team was using an intricate system to cheat their way to the playoffs.
The Houston Astros tainted the integrity of the game. They show little remorse. Meanwhile, players lost their jobs because of their performances against the Astros back in 2017 and the Los Angeles Dodgers were simply robbed of a title.
Now, the Dodgers are taking center stage, once again. For the third time in four years, they are participating in the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have the pitching depth but the Dodgers have the offense. I fully expect this series to go to a full seven games but even the most predictable games are unpredictable in the game of baseball.
If there is anything to take away from this World Series, it’s that Dodgers came back with a vengeance. They know they were robbed of a title in 2017. They’re hungry for that championship trophy. And you know what? This 2020 title is far more legitimate than 2017 because there’s been an even playing field. No trash cans to signal pitches, no cameras to steal signs, and an attempt to restore integrity to the game.
For what it's worth, I have the Rays winning in seven but there is a major part of me that is rooting for the Dodgers.