Extra Points: Get Ready for Houston Asterisks this Season
If Mike Trout was a color, he would be beige.
If he was a country, he would be Switzerland.
If he was a breakfast food, he would be oatmeal.
Sports media usually has to search elsewhere in search of a hot take. Trout, the three-time American League MVP from Millville, rarely offers anything that would be considered controversial. His world generally revolves around playing baseball, rooting for the Eagles, hunting, playing golf, fishing, downing burgers from Jim's Lunch, and spending time with wife Jessica and his family.
So when he reported to Angels Spring Training in Tempe, Arizona earlier this week and expressed disappointment and anger regard the Astros' sign-stealing scandal, everyone took notice.
"It's sad for baseball," Trout told ESPN.com Monday. "It's tough. They cheated."
And he wasn't alone in his outrage.
A slew of players, including the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger and Yankees' slugger Aaron Judge, were just as adamant. The Dodgers lost the 2017 World Series to Houston in seven games. The Yankees lost the ALCS that season in seven games while Judge finished second in the AL MVP race - Trout was third - behind Astros second-baseman Jose Altuve.
The scandal even spread to other sports.
"Listen I know I don't play baseball but I am in Sports and I know if someone cheated me out of winning the title and I found out about it I would be f---ing irate!" Lakers star LeBron James wrote on Twitter Tuesday. "I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do! Listen here baseball commissioner (Rob Manfred) listen to your players speaking about how disgusted, mad, hurt, broken, etc etc about this."
As I wrote last month, the Astros aren't the first team to use technology to steal signs.
During the 1900 season, Phillies infield/third-base coach Pearce "What's the Use" Chiles, stood atop a wooden box that contained wires that delivered electrical impulses - one jolt for a fastball, two for a curve, etc. - to Chiles' leg from a teammate peering through binoculars behind center field.
Legend has it that New York Giants hitter Bobby Thomson knew Brooklyn Dodgers hurler Ralph Branca would be throwing a fastball before hitting the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in 1951 due to a sign-stealing system involving a powerful telescope at the Polo Grounds and a electronics system.
As Trout mentioned, a hitter knowing what pitch is coming their way greatly increases their odds of sending that baseball into orbit.
"Me going up to the plate knowing what was coming ... It would be pretty fun up there," Trout said.
The Astros didn't help themselves with their approach to the scandal, arrogantly denying it at first, then offering insincere apologies.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred added to the outrage when he described the World Series trophy as a "piece of metal" while explaining he had no plans to vacate the Astros' 2017 championship in the wake of the biggest scandal to hit baseball since members of the Chicago White Sox conspired with gamblers to fix the 1919 World Series.
While I originally thought the issue was overblown, it's become clear to me that Astros tainted the integrity of the game and stained the "2017 World Series Champions" t-shirts that became Houston's most popular Christmas gift that year.
Something has to be done.
"Literally the ball is in your court(or should I say field) and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports!," James wrote.
There should be some additional punishments besides the penalties that have already been administered. While the powerful player's union would likely prevent it, Manfred should suspend Altuve, Alex Bregman and anyone else involved for a minimum of 10 games. Altuve's MVP award from 2017 should also be taken away.
"I don't agree with the punishments, the players not getting anything," Trout said. "It was a player-driven thing."
The one thing Manfred got right was stating that any team following the suggestion of Phillies coach Larry Bowa and throwing at the Astros would be subject to stiff penalties. That would be ridiculous on several levels. Pitchers would be ejected and possibly suspended. It is also reckless and dangerous.
There's also been talk of stripping the Astros' of their championship, though that appears unlikely.
Social media has already made its opinion known, however.
Look for the t-shirt shops on the Wildwood Boardwalk to stock up on "Houston Asterisks" garb this summer.