HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Heading into the 2021 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, the Houston Astros’ toughest test will be coming from the stands.
The 2019 MLB investigation into the infamous “Astros cheating scandal,” which concluded the Astros used cameras and noise cues to hint at incoming pitches, prompted several changes, including the firing of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.
Both Hinch and Luhnow were relieved shortly after the Astros loss to the Washington Nationals in the 2019 World Series. On the players’ side, all-star pitcher Gerrit Cole signed with the New York Yankees and, ahead of the 2021 season, outfielder George Springer elected to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays.
COVID-19 safety guidelines prompted the MLB to restrict ballpark access to fans during the 2020 season, allowing the Astros to compete “boo-free” for an entire season. Houston Sports Radio Host Adam Wexler thinks the boos will have dimmed given the duration since the scandal headlines, but they won’t be entirely gone.
They are never going to shake that label outside of Houston,” Wexler said. “There is no doubt about that.”
The Astros became the first team to ever make the American League Championship Series despite having a losing regular-season record. Ahead of the series’ first game, shortstop Carlos Correa, questioned the label Astros players have carried since 2019.
“I know a lot of people are mad and I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here,” Correa said, following a 3-1 series win over the Oakland Athletics to advance to the ALCS. “But, what are they going to say now?”
The Astros have 72 percent odds to win their division in the MLB’s PECOTA projections, the second-highest percentage in the American League behind the New York Yankees’ 81 percent odds. The team also holds the fourth-highest projected regular-season win total in the entire MLB.
The Houston Astros are in for an exciting season. The boos may echo from the 2019 investigation into 2021, but a continued run of success will certainly help to keep them a bit quieter.