The Baltimore Orioles can take solace in the fact that they swept both ALCS participants (Houston and Boston) at their respective parks. At different points of the season, that is. That did happen.
That aside, Major League Baseball has a problem. I suspect that after the cheating scandals of 2017 and 2018, the last two teams MLB wanted squaring off in the ALCS are Boston and Houston. Yet, that’s what we have.
Mind you, both franchises received discipline for their transgressions prior to last season. I personally thought that the punishments were fair. What I didn’t expect was that these two teams would be meeting in 2021 for the right to play in the Fall Classic.
There’s no evidence of anyone having cheated this year. But the optics of this are poor for the league no matter how you spin it. This despite both teams being very good.
At the time (and we’re talking immediately prior to the pandemic), many fans thought the teams should receive postseason bans. I personally did not agree with that. This isn’t a college sport where you’re chosen by a committee for postseason play. You earn your way there by having a better record than anyone else.
So I’m not saying these teams shouldn’t be at this stage. Unless evidence of further cheating is brought forward, they earned it. I’m just saying the optics are bad. And given how much gambling has come into sports of late, that makes it even worse. But can it be helped? Not in the least.