To the delight of baseball fans around the globe, the Tampa Bay Rays eliminated the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday with a 4-2 win.
Houston spent the entire season as baseball’s biggest villain after being outed for cheating en route to a 2017 World Series title. However, the 2020 campaign wasn’t about getting revenge on the critics — at least according to Lance McCullers Jr., who started Game 7 on the mound for the Astros. McCullers Jr. said, according to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN):
“I think we showed the kind of team we are. We weren’t on a revenge tour. That’s not what this was. This was just a bunch of guys coming together and wanting to play damn good baseball and wanting to go to another World Series. That’s what this was. We fell short of our goal, but a lot of growth and a lot of impressive people stepped up.”
The Astros were relentlessly ripped throughout the season for their cheating scandal. When fans were allowed, they banged on trash cans and shouted to the players, calling them cheaters. While some players ignored the hate, others reveled in it and played better because of it.
Houston’s playoff run was impressive, despite not many people being able to admit it. The team took down the Minnesota Twins in the wild-card round and beat the Oakland Athletics in four games in the American League Division Series to reach the ALCS.
They’ll likely still be shamed into next season, especially if fans are allowed, but they proved they can still be successful despite the massive amounts of hate.