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Ever since the early days of baseball, there have been those who seek to gain a competitive advantage through various forms of chicanery. And while there are certainly rules regarding the way in which the game is played and the conduct maintained while playing it, players have always pushed the envelope, seeking to come as close to the line as possible … and sometimes crossing it.

The largest cheating scandal of the past few years involved the Houston Astros, who put together an elaborate scheme combining high- and low-tech techniques to steal the signs of their opponents and gain an advantage – an advantage that took them all the way to a World Series championship before later revelations brought the whole thing tumbling down.

Andy Martino’s new book “Cheated: The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing” (Doubleday, $28) takes the reader inside that scheme, introduces us to the primary figures in its execution and discusses its aftermath. It also takes a trip through the history of sign stealing, a form of gamesmanship that has always been a part of the sport even as it has invited controversy along the way.

It’s a well-reported and well-written book, one that details the extent of the Astros’ sins while also showing that while this recent scandal might be the one most prominent in our memories, it is far from the only time that a team has crossed a line in its efforts to gain a better understanding of (and advantage over) their opponents.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 22 October 2019 13:35

Astros-Nationals: A World Series preview

And then there were two.

We’ve reached the end of the Major League Baseball season. Where once hope sprung in springtime for many of the league’s teams, a long season and arduous postseason have culled all but two squads. The World Series is upon us.

The Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals will face off in the Fall Classic.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 04 September 2019 11:48

Justin Verlander throws third no-hitter

Justin Verlander had a game for the history books.

The Houston Astros pitcher’s already-storied career saw another highlight etched into it this weekend when the 36-year-old hurler threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, winning 2-0. The game missed perfection by just a single walk, issued to Cavan Biggio in just the second at-bat of the contest, but there’s no mistaking the dominance – Verlander struck out 14 along the way. The no-hitter marked his third, and his first since his 2011 MVP/Cy Young-winning season with the Detroit Tigers.

Throwing a no-hitter in the big leagues is a big deal – there have only been just over 300 such games in MLB history, counting combined no-hitters. Throwing two is even more rare – fewer than 40 pitchers in the game’s storied past have ever managed multiple no-hitters.

Three? Three is when you get to the truly rarified air – air now being breathed deeply by Justin Verlander.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 10:25

A clash of titans – World Series 2017

After 162 games in the regular season – and over 100 wins each – and some hard-fought playoff series, we have our National League and American League pennant winners. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros are poised to face off in the 2017 World Series.

Shall we talk about it?

(Please note: By the time you read this, at least one game of the World Series will have already been played.)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 10:34

Road to the World Series 2017

Another long MLB season has come to an end. All 162 regular season games have been played. And a of this writing, just 10 remain with a chance to take home a World Series championship. Two-thirds of the league’s teams have packed it in and headed home for a long winter of wondering what might have been and awaiting the arrival of next spring and the ever-present hope that that season brings.

Published in Sports

Once again, spring has sprung. Regardless of what the weather outside brings, there's no escaping the fact that we're just days away from the beginnings of another baseball season. Spring training is almost at an end. The crack of the bat and the smack of the mitt will soon surround us.

Published in Cover Story

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