Virk: Astros' tainted past viewed differently if team wins '21 World Series

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The Houston Astros' return to the World Series has renewed the debate on their infamous sign-stealing scandal, and perhaps defied the old adage that cheaters never prosper.

But if the Astros -- now playing a clean brand of baseball -- are able to defeat the Atlanta Braves in the Fall Classic, MLB Network host Adnan Virk believes that the stench of their tainted 2017 championship run may begin to fade.

"If you look back at that World Series, whatever happened was wrong and certainly nefarious. But maybe if they win now, you say, 'Does it really matter as much in the whole process of stealing signs?'" Virk told The DA Show on Tuesday. "Is it an advantage to know whether it's a fastball, curveball, slider? Of course. But you've still got to grip it, rip it. You still have to hit that pitch. Even if you know 97 is coming down the pipe, you don't know location...

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"If they win this World Series, would you say to yourself, 'Is that World Series a little less tarnished? I would think so. There's still going to be diehards who are angry and malicious. 'Hey, no matter what, those guys can go to hell.' That's fine -- you're always going to have that percentage of the population. But the fact it wasn't a lot of guys, and if they can win without that whole usage of whatever it was, then I think that does help their case a little bit."

In January 2020, the Astros were disciplined by MLB after its investigation found that the team used electronics to steal signs during their 2017 season and run to the ALCS in 2018. To decode the opposing catchers' signs, they used a center-field video feed during home games, and then players banged on a dugout trash can to let batters know what kind of pitch was coming.

Although no Astros players were punished -- MLB commissioner Rob Manfred granted them immunity during the league investigation -- manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were each suspended for one season and then fired in the fallout. MLB also fined the franchise $5 million, and docked four draft picks.

Game 1 of the World Series will take place on Tuesday night (8:09 p.m. ET) at Minute Maid Park, with Astros lefty Framber Valdez opposing Braves veteran Charlie Morton. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, Houston currently has a 50-percent chance to win its second title in franchise history.

The entire World Series conversation between Virk and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.

You can follow The DA Show on Twitter @DAonCBS and @CBSSportsRadio, and Tom Hanslin @TomHanslin.