I have had a hard time coming to grips with the whole Houston Astros cheating scandal and the ensuing punishment.

I believe players should have been punished individually for their participation in the sign-stealing scheme but I was never real sure about taking away their 2017 World Series championship.

Now I’m sure, though, after hearing more information about the obvious impact the cheating had not only on the winning team but the losing team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This video, from Tom Verducci, the noted baseball writer from Sports Illustrated, brings to light an unbelievable statistic that I had never heard before, about the pivotal Game 5 of that Series.

Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers had pitched the opening game of the World Series in Los Angeles and it was a gem -- he allowed only one run over seven innings, walked none and struck out 11 in a 3-1 Dodger win.

Then in Game 5 at Houston, with the Series tied 2-2, the Astros returned to their home park, the site of the sign stealing. And just absolutely blasted Kershaw out of the game.

But here’s the thing: Anybody who knows baseball knows all about Kershaw’s devastating slider and curveball. They are terrific pitches for him. Unless you know they’re coming.

Verducci revealed that out of 51 sliders and curves Kershaw threw in that game he got ZERO swings and misses. None. Which is ridiculous. Impossible.

They didn’t chase that nasty slider in the dirt and they didn’t get fooled by the curveball.

You think the Houston hitters didn't know what was coming? And that it didn't help them to a great degree?

Of course, Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, has had to deal with all sorts of “choker” accusations about his performance in the postseason but this information sheds a different light on that game. And on that Series.

Houston eventually went on to win Game 5, 13-12. Had the Dodgers won, they would have taken a 3-2 lead back to LA, where they won Game 6 before dropping the deciding Game 7.

If you want further stats about the impact of cheating on Houston’s postseason run in 2017, you can find some mind-boggling home/road splits here.

Baseball needs to act and act immediately:

Take that trophy away from Houston. Just vacate the 2017 championship.

The Astros just can’t be allowed to call themselves champions of that season.