How national media's latest Astros double standard could be its most egregious

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It's officially 2024, and before you know it, the Houston Astros will be reporting to Florida for Spring Training and preparing for the upcoming season.

The club came just one game short of going to the World Series for the third consecutive year. You would think that the Astros' sustained excellence (7-straight ALCS appearances, 2 championships) would have the sign-stealing scandal firmly in the rearview mirror.

Especially with a new sign-stealing scandal to talk about with the University of Michigan football team. But that's clearly not the case. The Astros are still taking shots from broadcaster Al Michaels, and even on television (The Simpsons) just a couple of weeks ago.

What's even more alarming is the fact that Michigan was punished for behavior that sounds very similar to what the Astros were punished for doing. But the big difference is, nobody is talking about it or seems to care.

Michigan is currently in the news cycle as they prepare to play in the National Championship game, and it's like nothing happened. During their semi-final win over Alabama, the broadcast team didn't spend the huge portions of the game discussing coach Jim Harbaugh and the cheating Wolverines.

Shows like First Take and Undisputed aren't doing daily topics about Michigan cheating. And yet, every time the Astros are in the playoffs, 2017 gets brought up over and over again. Which is wild because Michigan was punished for sign-stealing just THIS season, and it hardly gets talked about.

But with the Astros, they can't stop talking about a scandal that happened almost SEVEN years ago! So why the hypocrisy? Is it because Michigan hasn't won anything yet? Would they get more heat if they had won the championship and the public didn't find out about the sign-stealing until after the fact?

Perhaps it's the way the Astros handled the blowback. Jim Harbaugh denied any knowledge of sign-stealing, he served a short suspension and the investigation was closed. No big deal. Yet Jose Altuve, who didn't even benefit from the sign-stealing, is one of the most hated athletes in pro sports. There are even conspiracy theories about buzzers that people still believe to this day. When the Astros win a playoff series, people say it's because they're still cheating.

But when's the last time you heard broadcasters talking about the Yankees and Red Sox cheating? It's like the Apple Watch scandal and MLB's letter to the Yankees never existed. So why the double standard with the Astros?

Be sure to watch the video above as we discuss the disproportional hate for Houston, and if the organization has regrets about confessing to the accusations.

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The Astros have yet to make Bregman an offer, but Kyle Tucker said preliminary talks have begun with him. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

Heading into spring training, Astros general manager said the team definitely was going to offer Alex Bregman a contract extension … they’re working on it.

Bregman’s agent Scott Boras said Bregman certainly would be open to discussing an extension with the Astros. For his part, Bregman said he spent the off-season working out like a beast and he’s getting ready for the best season of his career.

And so the waiting game began. Spring training is in full swing and each day the story-hungry media asks, so what’s up with the Astros contract offer for Bregman, who will be a free agent at season’s end if he doesn’t re-up with the Astros?

The media is waiting. Bregman is waiting. You know what Tom Petty said, waiting is the hardest part.

Let me tell you, Godot will show up before the Astros make a public contract offer to Bregman this spring. Public negotiations are a dance, and the Astros are willing to sit this one out.

The Astros kick off their spring training schedule on Saturday against the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach. Bregman likely will take third base and face live enemy pitching without an extension offer in his pocket.

The Astros’ position is well known. They are loathe to offer long-term contracts, let’s say more than five years, for big money, let’s say $150 million. They’ve stuck to their guns several times in recent years.

Bregman’s position is assumed. Certainly if he does have the best year of his career, he’ll be looking for $200 million-plus over seven or eight years.

Irresistible object vs. immovable force. Lines have been drawn in the sand. Will either side blink?

It’s doubtful. Actually, both sides are in a no-win situation at this stage. If the Astros make it known that they’ve made Bregman an offer, one that’s not even close to his expected market value, the team will appear cheap, insincere and just going through the motions. Fans know this has become sort of the Astros thing.

If it gets out that Bregman turned down the offer, and agent Boras is determined for Bregman to hit free agency, Bregman could appear to be just another mercenary soldier putting salary over team loyalty. This is how you pay Houston back for all our love, Alex?

Of course, the best strategy for both sides would be for Bregman to start the season, see how things go, and get serious about an extension in a few months.

There’s one problem with that – the media isn’t letting this go. It's the unrelenting Topic No. 1 each day on Astros talk. And will continue to be. The team and Bregman may have patience about a contract extension, but those beat writers are tired of waiting.

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