Wednesday, May 15, 2024

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore


"It was the stickiest stuff I've ever felt on a glove," remarked umpire Erich Bacchus, upon ejecting Houston Astros starter Ronel Blanco from the game against the A's. To this point there hadn't been many substance ejections, and by and large people have been following the rule to stop using tack to get a firmer hold on the ball. But, Blanco was not only using tack, he was OVERusing tack, and the umps had to quickly put a stop to it.

What makes this infuriating for Astros fans is that, to this point, Ronel Blanco was their best pitcher. Through 8 starts, Blanco, a-30-year-old sophomore, was 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA and 45 strikeouts under his belt, all team highs. Not only that, but in his first start of the season he no-hit the Toronto Blue Jays, and used that to get off to a truly vicious start to the season, with teams only beginning to prepare for him in the last week or so [the Yankees seemed prepared]. And now Blanco, clearly one of the silver linings of a dire Astros start, has been caught cheating and will probably have to face some consequences.

Imagine that, an Astros player facing consequences for cheating? Isn't that a fun concept? Alright, so after he gets back in like a week, the Astros will really have to think about what they're gonna do going forward. Will they minimize Blanco's role in the team, they want to win?

That's really the key to this stage of the Astros' history. We've reached the point where cheating doesn't make much of a difference anymore. It used to be that the whole lineup waiting for trashcan cues or one guy using an illegal bat or leaning into a HBP used to be the difference between ALCSs and World Series'. Now it can't get them more than 2 points in a game against the A's. And you can see the necessity- the Astros have the best lineup in the game, with no cheating to be found there really, and the pitching is 100% letting them down. So of course a pitcher's gonna try to cheat. They've gotta do SOMETHING, right? 

Like with the 2019 cheating, this has to piss off Justin Verlander, because he's still incredible without the use of any alternative methods for success. Dude's 41, he's 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA, 23 Ks. Clearly not 2011 caliber but he's still reliable, can go late and carries his share of the load. And now this Blanco thing's happened and there's a lot more pressure on him, cause Valdez and Javier are fine but not at peak levels and the kids are tanking. This is not an ideal rotation scenario, and maybe Blanco would have helped the team more had he just...not gotten too cocky.

And yet the Astros ended up winning that game against the A's anyway, despite Blanco being taken out. They had a walk-off by Victor Caratini, which is happening a lot lately, and ended up with their third straight win. And now the Astros are in 4th place, and tonight they have to face A's pitcher...Aaron Brooks. So even if the Astros don't cheat, they might still be alright for a bit. Maybe not 'competing this year' alright, but...they've survived worse. 

Coming Tomorrow- I never would expected this guy to be the sole factor holding the Rockies together.

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