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Former manager A.J. Hinch thinks it is fair to ask if the Astros title is tainted

Former manager A.J. Hinch thinks it is fair to ask if the Astros title is tainted

The Astros’ sign-stealing scandal is perhaps the biggest story to hit baseball in years. Stories of their use of replay cameras and buzzers to track what pitches were about to be thrown have forced fans to reevaluate their burgeoning dynasty in ways that will forever color the last few seasons in the sport.

Questions remain about who was the ultimate architect of their schemes, but manager A.J. Hinch, who has since been fired by the Astros, was one of the people responsible.

He thinks it's fair to question the legitimacy of the team's 2017 World Series title.

In his first public comments since severing ties with the team, Hinch spoke with Tom Verducci for an exclusive interview with MLB Network.

Verducci asked the question on the forefront of everybody’s minds: Does this scandal taint the World Series title, a run once thought to be the culmination of a year’s long rebuild?

“It’s a fair question, and I think everyone’s going to have to draw their own conclusion,” Hinch began, clearly having anticipated the question. “I hope, over time, and the demonstration of the talents with this team, and players and careers that are being had...they’re some of the best players in the entire sport, all together on the same team.”

Hinch didn’t directly say the title should be viewed differently in fans’ eyes, but it’s clear he recognizes how inevitable it is.

“I hope over time it’s proven that it wasn’t. But I understand the question. It’s a fair question, and people are going to have to draw their own conclusions” he continued. “Unfortunately we opened that door as a group. And that question may never be answered, and we may never know. And we’re going to have to live and move forward and be better in the sport. But unfortunately, no one can really answer that question, I can’t pinpoint what advantages or what happened or what exactly would have happened otherwise. But we did it to ourselves.”

These types of questions are going to continue to plague Hinch, his former players and everyone else involved with the scandal for the rest of their careers. The baseball world will be interested to hear what they all have to say, and this will be one of their first opportunities.

The interview is scheduled to air in full at 6 p.m. on Friday night on MLB Network. 

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Ryan Zimmerman can't wait for 'most unique World Series celebration of all-time'

Ryan Zimmerman can't wait for 'most unique World Series celebration of all-time'

April 2 was supposed to be a historic day in Nationals history.

It was scheduled as their home opener against the Mets and the day they would raise their first World Series championship banner. But with coronavirus delaying the start to the season, Nats fans, players and personnel will have to wait a little longer. 

No player has had to wait for a World Series title in DC longer than Ryan Zimmerman, and he didn't hide his disappointment in an interview with 106.7 The Fan Thursday

"The bummer is today," Zimmerman said. "Today was going to be the day we all thought would be the one day where we actually look back on [the World Series].

"It's a beautiful day outside and it’s tough to look outside and think of what could’ve been," he said. 

Looking on the bright side, it's not like the wait will diminish anyone's excitement. Zimmerman also made an interesting point. The fact that the Nationals had an unforgettable and unprecedented run to a World Series title, it makes a little sense the celebration would be delayed for unforgettable and unprecedented reasons. 

"It'll be the most unique World Series celebration of all-time," he said. "A lot of things will not be forgotten about our 2019 season. The way we won it, the comebacks in the playoffs and it's only fitting that it won't be forgotten how long it took us to celebrate it."

We still don't know exactly when baseball will begin again, but when it does Nats fans will have plenty more to celebrate than just a World Series banner going up. 

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Remembering the roller coaster of emotions that was Bryce Harper's return to DC

Remembering the roller coaster of emotions that was Bryce Harper's return to DC

Over the course of his seven-year stint in the nation’s capital, Bryce Harper stepped to the plate 1,994 times at the Nationals’ home ballpark. The D.C. faithful cheered him on each time, hoping the at-bat they were about to see was going to produce something special.

That 1,995th time, however, was different. When Harper arrived at Nationals Park on April 2, 2019, he was no longer the face of their franchise. He was the $330 million prized offseason addition of the Philadelphia Phillies, an NL East rival looking to climb back into contention following a lengthy rebuild.

Harper stepped to the plate in the top of the first faced the with the challenge of batting against former teammate and three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. It was unclear what to expect of a Nationals Park crowd that included a throng of Phillies fans in center field, but there was no confusion as to whether Harper was treated to jeers or cheers when his name was called.

The former NL MVP worked the count to 2-2 against Scherzer before striking out swinging on a changeup to electrify the Nationals Park crowd.

Other than another Harper strikeout, however, there would be little else that Nationals fans would cheer about that evening. The Phillies broke open a 5-0 lead against Washington’s bullpen before Harper hit an RBI single for his first career hit against the Nationals.

The home team would put two runs on the board to get within striking distance, but Harper had the last laugh that night after he put the game away with a 458-foot homer off Jeremy Hellickson before taking the time to toss a spinning bat flip at the Nationals’ home dugout.

Of course, the Nationals were really the ones who had the last laugh after they eliminated the Phillies from playoff contention with a five-game sweep in September before making a miracle run to their first World Series win in franchise history.

As for the Phillies, well, they have 12 more years with Harper to try and top that.

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