• June 17, 2024

Houston Astros Caught Using Illegal Equipment During World Series…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Houston Astros were caught breaking the rules in the World Series.

No, this time it had nothing to do with sign-stealing.

Rather, this particular episode of Astros shenanigans has to do with the bat that Astros catcher Martin Maldonado used in Game 1 of the Series, which the Astros lost 6-5 on Friday to the Philadelphia Phillies.

In a moment that MLB surely appreciated was tucked away in a 50-second clip, the announcers for Fox quickly debriefed viewers on how Maldonado had broken the rules and why he had to use a different bat for Game 2 on Saturday.

Unfortunately for MLB, the internet never forgets and you can watch that clip below:

“Martin Maldonado is using a different bat today here in Game 2. He found out from MLB today that the bat he used last night was not a legal bat. It was a model he obtained from Albert Pujols, and he used it because he thought it was very similar in size and weight to his own model,” Fox baseball reporter Tom Verducci explained during the broadcast. “The barrel, he said, was slightly bigger.”

Verducci further explained that Maldonado actually felt like he was honoring the legendary Pujols, with whom Maldonado was teammates in 2017 and 2018, by using the maple bat that was gifted to him.

The problem with Maldonado’s act of reverence is that MLB had actually changed the rules about Maldonado’s specific kind of maple bat back in 2010, a league official told the New York Post.

The type of maple bat that Maldonado was using was banned in 2011, but the MLB grandfathered in certain players who preferred to use that bat, such as Pujols. The problem for Maldonado was that to be grandfathered in, the player had to have begun his MLB career prior to 2011. Pujols, by virtue of making his league debut in 2001, was well within that time frame. Maldonado debuted in 2011, just barely missing the cutoff.

Of note, maple bats are allowed in baseball, though they do have to meet certain specifications set by MLB, such as slope of the grain, the league official said, according to the Post. Aside from those specifications, MLB also banned certain maple bats because they were deemed to be at much higher risk of shattering and splintering on contact.

The official said the league had determined that the bat did not provide any competitive advantage in Game 1, according to the Post.

This all sounds innocent enough, right? Well, there are some issues with that.

First, as mentioned above, it’s hard to give the Astros the benefit of the doubt after their documented history of brazenly stealing signs (the illegal equipment in that case being mainly a trash can).

Second, the illegal maple bat wasn’t the only Astros incident raising eyebrows so far in the Series:

That’s Astros pitcher Framber Valdez (who picked up the win after the Astros took Game 2 on Saturday by a score of 5-2) who appears to be rubbing something from his wrist to his ball. Even more curious, the umpire didn’t appear to check the wrist in question.

MLB has yet to comment on the Valdez incident as of this writing.

 

Patriots Beacon