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Despite The Controversy, The Houston Astros Are Damn Fun To Watch

This might be controversial. I get that the Astros sign-stealing stuff is still very much in the forefront of people's minds, and regardless of whatever evidence I layout in this blog, most people's opinions will remain unchanged regarding how they feel about this team. The Houston Astros are an organization that will forever be mired in controversy, and it's their damn fault. Rob Manfred fumbled the bag regarding the sign-stealing investigation that went down about two years ago at this time. The punishments should've been harsher. The 2017 World Series title should've been taken away. Personally, it's hard for me to get that bent out of shape about it because it allowed A.J. Hinch to fall into the Tigers' lap, which is something I'm very grateful for. But as someone who roots for integrity, it's clear that the investigation was flubbed. 

With all of that said, I think it's time we admit that the Astros won at the end of the day. Whatever notions people might've had that this was an organization that only survived based on the fact that they cheated in 2017 have been put to rest. To many people, they are still baseball's villains. But let's put the torches and pitchforks away for just a second focus on the 2021 Astros. Can we please admit that they're entertaining to watch? And that's not to say that other teams in this postseason haven't been fun to watch. The Red Sox had a great year, overachieving every step of the way. The Braves have an entertaining lineup, and the Dodgers roster is always full of great players. But there's something about the sustained success that the Astros have had that I find incredibly admirable. It may sound simple, but as a fan of well-run baseball teams, I can't help but admire the fact that they have really, really good players. Their hitters can hit for average and hit for power, and no, it's not because they know what pitches were coming. It's because their organization has developed a core of hitters that swing at strikes and rarely chase pitches out of the zone. And it's not like this is one of the best teams that money can buy. It's not a core that was built through midseason trades and big free-agent signings. A majority of these guys are homegrown. Most organizations would bend over backward to acquire one player of Kyle Tucker's caliber. He nearly put up a 5 WAR, and he's probably their sixth-best hitter. 

Their pitchers know how to execute their pitches. They have a good, deep bullpen. They play great defense. They don't make errors, and they run the bases well. In the last two years, they have lost Justin Verlander (a first-ballot Hall of Famer), Gerrit Cole (A Cy Young caliber starting pitcher), and George Springer (a perennial All-Star leadoff man), and they haven't missed a beat. It speaks to the fact that the Astros organization has a well of talent that runs unspeakably deep. 

Even beyond their physical talents, it seems like they have an incredible knack for getting off the mat. Last year, they nearly came back from a 3-0 series deficit in the ALCS. This year, after game three in this series against the Red Sox, it felt like the Astros wouldn't make it out of Boston. They bounced back, as they've done so many times. They have become the model of success that all American League teams should strive towards. You can hate them. You can vilify them, and much of that slander is well earned, considering what they did in 2017. But at this point, you have to respect them.