November 1, 2017, five years ago today: A thriller of a World Series ends with a relatively calm Game 7, as the Houston Astros win their first world championship with a 5-1 victory over the L.A. Dodgers.The Fall Classic featured a record 25 home runs, 15 of them from the Astros—and five of those from George Springer, Houston’s Series MVP. Springer became the first player ever to homer in four consecutive games in the same World Series. One other home run note: the teams combined for eight in Game 2 to set a Series single-game record.
The Astros were a great story at the time, having lost 111 games just four years earlier. It was the franchise’s third straight 100-loss season and bridged their move from the National League to the American League. Houston thus became the first team ever to land three consecutive No. 1 overall draft picks. The Astros started executing a careful rebuilding plan to get to the top, centered around a deep farm system. In fact, the cover of Sports Illustrated on June 30, 2014, featuring a photo of Springer, predicted the Astros would win the 2017 World Series.
It was revealed two years later that Houston used technology to steal opponents’ signs during home games at Minute Maid Park in 2017. The technology didn’t extend to the actual usage of the stolen signs, as the Astros would bang on a garbage can to signal the upcoming pitch to their hitters. Major League Baseball investigated, and Houston manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year. In turn, the team immediately fired them.
A $5 million fine was also levied on the Astros, and they had to give up first and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. The fine didn’t bother them at all. And the reduction of draft picks hasn’t hurt them yet—five years later, they’re in the middle of another World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. But there are plenty of players left on the roster from the 2017 championship team, and the Astros are still reviled for their cheating.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)