The New York Yankees have not won an American League pennant or a World Series since 2009, making this the longest drought the franchise has faced since the ’80s. (The Yankees lost in the 1981 World Series, then didn’t reach the Fall Classic again until winning it in 1996.) General manager Brian Cashman believes that fact should come with, if not an asterisk, at least context that delves deeper into the Yankees’ 2017 loss in the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros.
“The only thing that stopped (us) was something that was so illegal and horrific,” Cashman told The Athletic’s Andy McCullough. “So I get offended when I start hearing we haven’t been to the World Series since ’09. Because I’m like, ‘Well, I think we actually did it the right way.’ Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off.”
Cashman is, of course, referring to the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. The Astros infamously cracked opposing teams’ signs using a live feed of the game, then relay the signs to their hitter by beating on a trash can located in the clubhouse tunnel during at least the 2017 season. Major League Baseball later punished the Astros by stripping them of draft picks, fining them, and suspending GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. (The Astros subsequently fired both individuals.)
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The Yankees had a 3-2 lead in that 2017 ALCS. They then lost consecutive games in Houston by a combined score of 11-1 to see their season end.
It should be noted that the Yankees have had their own run-ins with technological misconduct over the years, albeit not to the extremity of the Astros. A judge recently ruled that a letter from commissioner Rob Manfred to Cashman should be unsealed. That letter was originally authored following a brouhaha between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox concerning the illegal use of Apple Watches.