I'll be the first to admit that after Charlie Morton embarrassed the New York Yankees on Monday night, touching 99 MPH on the gun and throwing a wiffle-ball-esque slider in the process, I thought there was a legitimate case the Astros were cheating. It was mostly the thoughts of being a salty Yankees fan, but Morton looking like a Cy Young candidate this year, in addition to the second half of last year and the postseason, has to raise some eyebrows. Morton was a mediocre, middle-of-the-rotation pitcher at best during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and yet suddenly he becomes the second coming of Nolan Ryan with the Houston Astros.
Then, the following night, Justin Verlander was up to his usual tricks, striking out 14 Yankee batters and continuing his dominance as an Astro. Earlier that day, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer had already grabbed headlines (as he often does) for insinuating something was up in Houston. Suddenly everyone's claims had some merit, with an actual MLB player calling them out.
But when Bauer cleared the air, his claims also sounded like sour grapes, because they were rooted in the fact he wasn't allowed to use surgical glue on his injured pinky finger in last year's playoffs:
While many Astros players took offense, Bauer brought up some interesting points, and if his claim is that "everyone's doing it," then the Astros shouldn't be alone in getting called out. But since fans can't be rational, now everyone is watching Houston like hawks, and during Thursday's fourth game between the Astros and Yankees, pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. was put under the Twitter microscope for what appeared to be some kind of substance on his cleat. Rather than wait for any actual evidence, the pitchforks were out:
We're not saying these people are wrong to call out McCullers, because it certainly looks like something on his cleat, but we're very quick to rush to judgements on social media.
After the game, McCullers did his best to put the cheating claims to rest with this video on Twitter:
Does this mean there is NO WAY the Astros pitchers are using pine tar? It's just plastic on his cleat! Of course not, but that's not a sticky substance, and it's almost insulting to insinuate he'd be that stupid to put something so glaring on his shoe just days after the Astros were being accused of cheating.
And if everyone really is using it, then people are just mad the Astros are doing it better than the rest, although all the cheating in the world couldn't help them against the Yankees this week (Boom, roasted).