The city of New York is collectively salivating. The beloved Astros are in town to renew their rivalry with the Yankees. This series has been highly anticipated for the past 18 months. Ever since late 2019, when the sports world exploded following the uncovering of the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme during the 2017 campaign, the Bronx has longed for vengeance.
Yankees fans will undoubtedly be themselves and act accordingly. The real intrigue lies with the teams, both the players and respective coaching staffs. Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, the 2017 American League MVP runner-up, didn’t mince words in February of 2020.
Right when I think Mike Fiers came out, talked with The Athletic and stated that this was what was going on in ’17. Once I heard that, I just — I was sick to my stomach. Just to find out … I had a lot of respect for those guys and what they did, especially what they did for the city of Houston and that whole organization, man. A team that was in last place, drafted right, got the right players in there and eventually got to the World Series. I had a lot of respect for them. The way they played, what they did. And to find out that it wasn’t earned. They cheated. It didn’t sit well with me, and I just didn’t feel like the post that I did really meant the same anymore.
José Altuve took home AL MVP honors in 2017, and then sent the Yankees home in the 2019 American League Championship Series after launching a hanging Aroldis Chapman slider into the night.
The raw feelings of the crushing 2017 ALCS loss were unquestionably intensified by the franchise’s failure to get by the Astros again in the 2019 ALCS. The Astros’ illegal activities in 2017 coming to light merely weeks after the 2019 season concluded ignited a firestorm the likes of which Major League Baseball’s never seen.
For only the second time in a century, the Yankees, MLB’s most valuable club and recognizable brand, had failed to win a World Series in a decade. The biggest difference between the two eras — the 1980s being the other — is money.
Nearly $138 million was spent on payroll in the 80s. Adjusted for inflation, that figure converts to roughly $300 million today. Either way it’s sliced, that’s a substantial amount of money to spend in exchange for zero championships.
As exasperating as that was for then-owner George Steinbrenner, who significantly outspent other teams in the 80s, the organization’s frustration in the 2010s might be superseding. According to Cot’s, the Yankees spent more than $2 billion on player salaries in the 2010s.
It was supposed to pay off in the latter half of the decade. Exciting young talent had been developed and high-profile players had been acquired. The Astros effectively nullified all of it. Twice.
What’s abundantly clear is the Yankees’ need for retribution. Three games in May at Yankee Stadium will hardly quench their thirst. In the end, the only thing that could provide a semblance of satisfaction is defeating the Astros in October, something they’ve yet to accomplish.