Astrophobia

Some of us–poor, benighted souls that we are–believe that there is some kind of equity in sports. Even after years of painful experience tells us that no higher power could possibly be paying attention to the sports world, we cling to the notion that if we behave like a good person, help with household chores without being asked to do so, follow a particular routine, and wear a lucky shirt, or socks, or hat, or some other item of apparel, the fickle sports gods will notice and tilt the karma in our favor. A key belief, underlying all of the superstition, is that someone somewhere will notice that we are doing those good things and displaying our commitment to our team and reward us with wins and, we hope, championships.

If you ever needed proof that there is no equity whatsoever in sports, here it is: the Houston Astros have made the World Series for the third time in five years.

The Astros engaged in a one of the worst sports cheating scandals since the Chicago Black Sox threw the World Series in 1919. The team intentionally stole signs in 2017, when they won the World Series, and for part of 2018 until their scheme was uncovered. The Astros–who some people dubbed the “Asterisks,” as in the logo above, to reflect that the franchise won the championship by cheating–were fined $5 million, lost a few draft picks, and fired some of their front office personnel. But the team’s owner remained in place, the Astros hung their championship banner, and no punishment was meted out to the players who participated in the cheating. Remember that the next time you hear somebody in organized baseball talking about needing to do something to protect the “integrity of the game.”

If there were justice and equity in sports, the Astros wouldn’t be going to another World Series, and making people wonder whether those guys who figured out a way to cheat before might somehow be cheating again. But they are. The Astros owner says he thinks the scandal is in the rear view mirror, but there are many of us who remember, and who think the lack of accountability for flagrant cheating is a continuing black eye for baseball.

I can’t do anything about equity in sports, but I can do one thing: not watch any game the Astros play. I therefore won’t be watching the World Series this year.