Bryce Harper, like practically every veteran major-leaguer, has been asked this spring for his thoughts on the Astros' cheating scandal. More than once, Harper has said the most bothersome part of the scandal is the impact it had on fringe major-league pitchers who lost money or lost their job in part because of how they performed in Houston.
The entire baseball world is angry with the Astros and for good reason. However, the idea that Houston was only a 100-win team because of its electronic sign-stealing system seems like misguided revisionist history. The 2017 Astros, the 2018 Astros, the 2019 Astros, this 2020 team — they were all loaded. For Astros players, one of the most frustrating parts of this ordeal has to be that they may have been good enough to win it all without cheating.
Harper had an interesting take on the matter Thursday morning on the 94WIP Morning Show.
"Being able to watch a Houston team that you believed was one of the best teams in the world, that run that they had gone on. You're gonna see this year if they're the truth — if they're really gonna go out there and do what they do," Harper said.
"And if they do, then nobody can really say anything. I think they do have really good players but the things they did do in the past is gonna taint what they did."
It feels like 2020 can go only one of two ways for the Astros. Either the drama, stress and hatred from each road fanbase and opponent will result in a disappointing, wheels-fall-off season. Or the Astros are galvanized by the "us against the world" mentality and come out and have another strong season. The guess here is that they either win 100-plus games or struggle badly, shut down key players, punt the season and finish right around .500. We shall see.
Harper and the Phillies face the Astros in Houston July 7-8-9, the penultimate series before the All-Star break.