SPORTSMAP ROUNDTABLE IS PRESENTED BY TIGHT ENDS SPORTS BAR & GRILL

1 major piece of the Astros' scandal that doesn't add up

After MLB suspended Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch on Monday, Luhnow released a statement saying that he did not "personally direct, oversee or engage in any misconduct..."

In light of that statement, ESPN 97.5's Barry Laminack, Joel Blank, and Raheel Ramzanali share their thoughts on how much Luhnow really knew about the Astros using technology to steal signs.

SportsMap Roundtable is presented by Tight Ends Sports Bar & Grill.

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The Astros are a better story than the Braves. Period. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

For the past few days, we've heard and read baseball analysts predicting who'll win the World Series, our Houston Astros or the Atlanta Braves. It's usually the same tired cliche ... the Astros (or Braves) … "in six."

For the record, the World Series has been decided "in six" only four times in the past quarter-century.

First, these experts are no better than you, me or a chimp hurling feces at photos of Orbit or Chief Noc-A-Homa. Predictions on sports shows are just a time-killer before the hosts turn it over to the midday guy.

Those pre-game, former-player hosts on Fox, TBS and MLB Network couldn't be more boring and just plain silly. They're trying too hard. A-Rod is creepy, Big Papi isn't funny and Frank Thomas just sits there worrying about his hormone levels. I can't even name the host on Fox. On top of that, they were wrong on the Red Sox beating the Astros.

I remember walking into the living room where my father was watching a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. The Browns scored and my father pumped his fist, "All right!" I asked him, "Why are you rooting for the Browns? We live in New Jersey."

He said, "I always root for the team farther east." It made as much sense as anything else he ever said. Another time he was watching a political debate between candidates for mayor of New York City. One of the candidates said the word "either" and pronounced it "eye-ther." My father was put off by his uppity pronunciation and said, "That's it, I can't vote for that guy now."

I thought, how about the fact we don't live in New York City and there's zero chance you're registered to vote anywhere, anyhow?

For the record, Pittsburgh is farther east than Cleveland. My father was never a "I'll take geography for $600" guy.

Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale reportedly has bet $3.35 million on the Astros to win the World Series and stands to win $35.6 million if they do. It would be the biggest haul in the history of legal sports gambling in America.

Mattress Mack told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "I will never in my life bet against the Houston Astros. It's loyalty. And I'm loyal to the Houston Astros."

It's as good a reason as any. I will bet you $3.25 dollars that Mattress Mack can't name the Astros centerfielder.

Here's my World Series prediction, and if you've been following SportsMap you know I've been riding the Astros since spring training.

The Astros in 4. You know why the Astros will sweep? It's because they're just gonna. No analytical rhyme or reason. They're just gonna.

The Astros are a better story than the Braves. Just like it took a whole year before the Chicago Black Sox were found guilty and punished for throwing the 1919 World Series, it took years for the Astros' cheating ways of 2017 to be prosecuted. This is the Astros first venture onto baseball's grandest stage since the sign-stealing scandal went public.

The Astros are on a revenge mission to prove they can win fair and square. The team, especially the five holdovers from 2017, are seeking, not forgiveness, but vindication and respect. And they're reveling in wearing black hats.

The Astros are a curious lot. Will Dusty Baker, a toothpick-chewing, surgical glove-wearing "cool 72-year-old" be back next year? Does owner Jim Crane have the business testicles to let clutch-hitting team leader Carlos Correa sign with another team? What to do with high-priced veterans who haven't helped a lick this season?

In their own villainous way, the Astros are the glamour team in the 2021 World Series. Baseball needs a headline-grabbing Series to get back on track as the national pastime (although that door probably closed decades ago). A dismal, dull affair (credit: Jagger-Richards) with the Braves winning is the last thing baseball needs.

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