Only three years ago, the Houston Astros were the feel- good story in all of sports. Following Hurricane Harvey, the Astros World Series win put them on par with the 2010 New Orleans Saints, or LeBron James whenever he was in Cleveland. They inspired hope in an entire city, and returned joy for a city that was nearly destroyed. Everyone bought into the feel good story, or at least liked seeing J.J. Watt’s happy Instagram stories. But only a few years later, that world series win is under scrutiny, and the Astros are almost universally hated everywhere besides Houston.
Following the end of the most recent MLB season, former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers told journalists for The Athletic that the Astros had engaged in using technology to steal signs from opposing teams. Sign stealing in baseball refers to the practice of observing the signals sent between the catchers and pitchers, and then relaying them to the players so that they are aware of what pitch is coming up next. This practice is not inherently against the rules of baseball, and is often considered by some to be unsportsmanlike, even though it happens fairly often. The problem with the Astros sign stealing is that it is illegal in the MLB to use electronic devices to steal signs during a game. Fiers told The Athletic that the Astros had placed a camera in center field and pointed it directly at the catcher. This feed was relayed to a laptop in the tunnel behind the dugout, where an employee sat and relayed the kind of upcoming pitch to the batter via banging on a trashcan. Two bangs for an off speed pitch, nothing for a fastball. In the 2017 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, José Altuve had a .472 batting average and 6 home runs at home games, while hitting .143 and 1 home run on the road. Carlos Correa similarly had a .371 batting average at home, and a .211 average on the road. In a series that went to seven games, every advantage matters.
When the MLB launched an investigation following Fiers’ interview, there wasn’t much they could do in order to defend themselves. The signals were obvious and on camera, and this was only confirming suspicions many teams had held for many seasons now. It seemed like the best thing to do was own up to cheating, apologize and accept whatever punishment the MLB would deal out for such obvious cheating.
Instead, the Astros lost some pocket change, draft picks and their coach for a season. They did not lose their World Series title. The Astros’ response was as confusing as it was unapologetic, both owning up to it and denying the claims in the same interview. Justin Verlander even made a joke about it in his Cy Young Award acceptance speech.
Compared to some past punishments to cheating baseball players, the Astros were basically handed a get out of jail free card. Yet seemingly no one in the organization was able to grasp this idea. None of them have come out against sign stealing, no official apology has been given and they still seem to keep talking. Someone in the front office even said he feels no need to reach out to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team they beat in the World Series.
It’s really amazing how the Astros have made everyone who follows or plays professional baseball upset. Their response to everything since the investigation began has been a complete misfire. It’s almost like they didn’t know what was coming up next. Maybe someone should’ve banged on a trash can for them.
The College of Wooster men’s tennis team split its two matches at the Aspen Racquet Club on Sunday, dropping a close 5-4 battle against DePauw University before dominating John Carroll University in an 8-1 victory.
Against DePauw, the Scots took four out of six singles matches, but lost all three doubles competitions, allowing the Tigers to squeeze out the win. Nivaan Lobo ’23 and Alex Drewes ’23 came the closest to winning their doubles match, but fell 8-7 after going to a tie- breaker game. Alon Liberman ’22 and Austin Hanna ’22 lost 8-5, while Joaquin Abos Amo ’21 and Nathan Devereux ’20 came up short by a score of 8-4.
The Scots were more successful in singles, winning the majority of the matchups. No. 1 player Hanna was edged out in a close match by DePauw’s Wyatt Metzger ’22, but No. 2 Liberman took down Bryce McClanahan ’21 in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4. In the next slot down, Devereux was defeated by Noah Roberts ’21 in another tight battle; however, No. 4 Abos Amo pulled out a close victory against Thomas Partridge ’23. Nebyou Minassie ’22 took straight sets against Will Sultan ’22, 6-3, 7-5, and Drewes came through with a tight win over Jake Watson ’23, giving Wooster wins in the majority of the singles matches. Unfortunately, the Scots’ 4-2 singles record was not enough to off- set the three doubles losses, and DePauw eked out a 5-4 win overall.
Head Coach Zack Hasenyager on the loss said, “We didn’t play badly but caught some unlucky breaks and [DePauw] are talented and we came up on the losing end of all three doubles matches which put us in a hole that proved too difficult to get out from in the end.”
Wooster’s second match of the day against John Carroll was more successful and much less tightly contested. In doubles, the team of Hanna and Liberman bounced back with an easy 8-2 win in the top slot. Abos Amo and Drewes took the only Wooster defeat against the Blue Streaks, but Devereux and Minassie won their match 8-6 to give the Scots an edge going into singles.
After the matches, Minassie expressed confidence and a de- sire to give the team everything he had. “I think I played really well in both of my matches,” he said. “Even though I was tired for my second match, I had to give 100 percent to help my team be victorious.”
Going into singles, the Scots had a leg up from their doubles triumph, which turned out they did not at all need. Wooster won all six singles matches, with the top two matchups producing straight-set victories for the Scots. Taking over the No. 1 slot, Liberman dominated Andy Siciliano ’21 6-3, 6-2, while new No. 2 Hanna took down Kevin Wacnik ’23 6-4, 6-4. Abos Amo again saw success, as he was victorious in three sets over Mark Beebe ’23. Devereux won a strange back-and-forth match over Adi Jha ’20 by a score of 6-1, 1-6, 6-2, and Minassie con- tinued his hot streak by taking straight sets over Andrew Triner ’21. Rounding out a perfect series of singles matches, Lobo was the winner of a three-set battle with Alevero Rosabel ’23. The Scots’ 6-0 singles re- cord meant they cruised to an 8-1 overall victory, earning a split of their two matches on the day.
The College of Wooster men’s basketball team suffered an 88-81 loss against the Tigers of Wittenberg University on Saturday, Feb. 15 in Springfield, Ohio. The Scots are now 17-6 overall and 11-5 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) and as of Tuesday, Feb. 18 are in third place, one game behind Wabash College. The Tigers, with the win, are now the outright regular season champions and will be the No. 1 seed in the NCAC tournament starting on Tuesday, Feb. 25. They are 22-1 overall and 15-1 in the NCAC with only a few regular season games remaining. Even if Wittenberg lost the rest of their regular season games, they’d still have the No. 1 seed. This game marked the 121st overall meeting between both teams and Wittenberg now has the 61-60 edge over the Fighting Scots.
Wittenberg came out strong in the first half, eventually go- ing up 35-30 at halftime. Offensive rebounds were the main difference-maker for the Tigers as they converted on many second-chance opportunities.
The Tigers had nine offensive rebounds in the first half and were up 27-17 with 6:26 left. The Scots, down by ten at the time, were in need of a scorer to step up and knock down some shots. Danyon Hempy ’20 and Dontae Williams ’21 accounted for 15 of the Scots’ first 17 points, but J.G. Gillard ’22 and Khaylen Mahdi ’22 were the two players that stepped up to add to the scoring for the Scots, eventually helping the team trim the deficit to only five at halftime. The sophomores scored ten points to make it a 33-27 game and then Keonn Scott ’21 made it a 35-30 game after he drained a three-pointer.
At halftime, Brandon Sty- ers ’22 described what Coach Steve Moore told his team. “He told us that this game is going to come down to who wants to win more. The team that is going to win is the team that wins every 50-50 ball and plays the best defense,” Styers said. Down five points with a decent score total, Trenton Tipton ’20 said Moore wanted more intensity and focus in the second half as Tipton described halftime being “about keeping our composure and understanding that the game was well within reach. He challenged us to play harder and pick up our intensity as well.”
The second half was a spectacle in offense. Both teams scored over 50 points in the second half. Keonn Scott ’21 and Danyon Hempy ’20 put up 17 and 12 points in the half. The Scots scored 51 points in total during the second half, respectively. Unfortunately, Wittenberg was able to match their high intensity with 53 points of their own to win the game. On Wittenberg’s offense, Styers said, “They [Wittenberg] have a lot of firepower on the offensive end, which makes them hard to guard.”
Given that Wooster took the first game against Wittenberg in January, the Tigers certainly had a lot to play for. Wooster dominated the first game as Styers described it as, “at home, we shot the lights out, but also played very good defense in the first half. Having gotten out to a fast start was important in that win.” The fast start from Wittenberg this time around proved to be the deciding factor. Styers said defense could have stopped
Wittenberg’s early streak, say- ing, “We would have gotten the job done if our team’s defense was better overall. In or- der to beat a great team, much like Wittenberg, having good, sound defense is crucial for success.”
All is not lost, however. Wooster still has two regular season games and can secure a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament to potentially avoid a rematch with Witten- berg until the finals. Tipton said that despite the loss, the season isn’t over: “Some things didn’t go the way we wanted, but we still have some games left and we know we still have a lot to play for, so we will learn from what happened, and bounce back on Wednesday.”
The College of Wooster women’s tennis team played against Baldwin Wallace University (1-6) in Medina, Oh. on Sunday, Feb. 9 and emerged victorious 9-0 in their first match of the 2020 season. The Scots gained four new first- year recruits this season, as well as more depth.
Shannon Sertz ’20 was asked what it is like to have several first-years on the team this season. “It’s always nice to have fresh faces on the team, and having such a large first- year class allows for a greater hitting variety in practice, and a lot of lineup possibilities,” she said.
When asked the same question, Joy Li ’20 echoed this sentiment. “I believe we will be able to produce more unique and powerful chemistry among us in future matches,” Li re- marked.
Sertz and Li will graduate this spring, and the new additions of several recruits has been very important.
Laura Haley ’21 said, “It’s nice knowing that once the team loses seniors, that we have people that can fill their shoes. I feel good knowing that next year after I leave the team, there will be a good foundation for the future.”
As for doubles, the Scots only lost four games in total. Ishika Gupta ’23 and Li picked up a strong 8-2 win in the first slot, and same with Sertz and Sarah Duran ’21 in the number two slot. Finally, the number three team of Amber Dinchman ’23 and Abby Kushner Benson ’23 shut out their opponent 8-0. Wooster headed into their singles matches up 3-0.
Both Gupta and Li had a little bit of difficulty in the first set of their matches, as they lost 3-6. Gupta proceeded to take the second set 7-6 af- ter winning the tiebreaker 8-6. Then, in the shortened third set played to 10 points, she won 10-5. In Li’s match, she won the second set 7-5 and then closed out the match with a 10-6 win in the third set.
“Our matches at first and second singles were especially great, as both Joy and Ishika came back from being down a set,” said Dinchman. She added, “BW definitely contended with us more in singles than in doubles. Their top players seemed to be really strong.”
The other singles matches were all won in two sets. Duran won her match 6-0, 6-2 in the number three flight. The number four, five and six matches were all won by a score of 6-0. Sertz played in the four slot, Kathryn Mater- ick ’23 at five, and Haley at six. Sertz gave her thoughts on her team’s performance in their first match of 2020.
“I think we came out with high energy and determination to get the job done. The first match of the season is always exciting and there were some inspiring comebacks and clean wins,” she said. Haley added on to what Sertz said. “I’m proud of everyone, everyone did an awesome job. It makes me happy to see everyone play so well,” she said.
She was then asked about what the team has been focus- ing on in order to improve. “In practice we have been trying to play a lot of points, which has helped us get ready for matches, as well as constructing points which is something that is always useful. It mimics a real game-like situation,” Haley said. She then described her favorite thing about the team. “It’s so nice to have a bunch of people to rely on, they never let me down.”
Sertz then ended by saying, “while we work hard, we laugh harder.” Moving forward, Sertz said it’s imperative that the team maintains determination and focus, as the competition will get tougher and tougher throughout the season.
You have to look all the way back to 2002 to find a Lebron James-less NBA. In his illustrious 17 seasons thus far, Lebron has won three NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals, made eight consecutive finals appearances, countless All-Star and All-NBA selections, holds numerous NBA records and eight Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards. At age 35, playing for a powerhouse Lakers team, Lebron is poised to add a fifth MVP to his tally. Currently, he sits second in the 2020 MVP race behind budding superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and this is Lebron’s case for one last MVP. Statistically, Lebron is having a great season, but not quite on par with his monumental 2018 season where he dragged an underwhelming Cavs team to the Finals or his physical 2013 season with the Heat. Despite this, he is averaging a career high in assists and leading the league in assists. This year,he has taken on the role of facilitator and seems content to feed Anthony Davis, Danny Green and company with dime after dime. Just when critics say he is past his physical prime, he decides to facilitate and show what an all-time great passer he can be. And it’s not like he’s neglecting other aspects of his game, since he is still averaging 25 points and almost eight rebounds. He has been maintaining these numbers without taking games off to manage his load like his fellow superstar Kawhi Leonard.
In 2020 Lebron is not the 18-year-old kid thrust into the national spotlight on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He is an aging superstar pushing the limits of what time will allow. Sports analysts are already predicting a cliff in the near future. If so, this season may be his last chance to win/make up for years he was snubbed. He has dragged pathetic Cavs teams to multiple Finals appearances without MVP recognition. He lost out to Westbrook in 2017 and Harden in 2018, two years where he was clearly the best player in the world. What he’s doing is unheard of at this age, especially this deep into an NBA career. Lebron isn’t getting any younger so this may be his last chance at being named the league’s most valuable player.
The MVP usually goes to the best player on the best team and although the Bucks have the best record, they aren’t a better team than Lebron’s Lakers. The Bucks won the first of the teams’ two regular season meetings but if they were to meet in a seven-game series I would be hard pressed to pick the Bucks. Giannis is a one man wrecking crew but outside of Kris Middleton he doesn’t have a lot of help. The loss of Malcom Brogdon to the Pacers hasn’t improved their team. They must rely on contributions from the Eric Bledsoes, Klye Korver and Brook Lopezes of the world. Meanwhile the Lakers added Davis, Green, McGee and Howard in the offseason making them one of the tallest and best defensive teams in the league. Head-to-head the Bucks don’t have an advantage and the Lakers would likely be favored in a playoff matchup. Furthermore, the Bucks may have the best record in the league, but they are in the weaker Eastern Conference. The Lakers are six wins back in the much tougher Western conference. The Lakers are the best team in the NBA and their best player is one Lebron James. Lebron’s league best Lakers combined with the fact he’s leading the NBA in assists and still dominant at age 35 is why he deserves the 2020 MVP.
With less than five games left, The College of Wooster women’s basketball team looks to finish the season with a few solid wins after suffering a devastating 77-74 loss to the Kenyon College Ladies on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The loss brings the Scots’ record to 8-13 overall, and 5-8 in the North Coast Ath- letic Conference (NCAC).
“It all really came down to a last-second shot by Matijasich,” Interim Head Coach Nicole Marshall explained. Paige Matijasich ’20 of the Ladies scored 27 points, including her three-point shot with 0.3 seconds left to give her team the win. “We had a few breakdowns in the key moments of the game that really hurt us, but overall we played hard and as a team,” said Marshall.
The game began strongly for the Scots, as they forced Kenyon with four turnovers. Kenyon tried to respond to the Scots’ impressive defense, but failed as they missed five shots in the first quarter and fell behind Wooster with a score of 15-10.
For the entirety of the second quarter, the Scots held their lead over the Ladies and held them to a four-point deficit at the half.
After the half, the game be- came more interesting. Kenyon fought back for the lead many times, but the Scots refused to go down easily. Their offense gave them 22 points in the third quarter while Kenyon came up shy with 19 points. The Scots went into the fourth quarter with a score of 59-52 over the Ladies.
The fourth quarter became alarming for the Scots as the Ladies seemed to tighten their grip. Even with a Wooster ten- point lead in the first few minutes of the fourth, Kenyon took the lead with 2:33 seconds left in the game by one mere point. As time progressed, Kenyon kept a significant lead until Ma- sani Francis ’22 hit a three to cut the lead to two points, and then made a layup after a Kenyon turnover.
With tensions high and a Kenyon timeout, the Scots’ game plan was to keep cool like any other game. “We wanted to control the tempo and just play our game,” Francis said. Maria Janasko ’21, with 27 points of her own against the Ladies, knew that Matijasich would be lethal in the last seconds. “We knew we needed to be all over Matijasich because she is one of their key players,” she said. Nevertheless, Matijasich became open and shot a three- pointer to win the game 77-74.
Even after a tough loss, Wooster seemed proud of their performance. “In the end, it came down to a tough buzzer- beater and little things like making our free throws and valuing the possession of the ball,” Francis added. “I was pretty happy with how we played otherwise.”
Assistant Coach Cassidy Wertman spoke on the team’s effort. “We just have to continue to work on the little things like cutting our turnovers in half, winning all four quarters and hitting our foul shots,” she said. “The effort is there. They want to win and they work so hard — it all comes down to fine-tuning the little things.”
With two more away games and one home game against De- Pauw University scheduled for February 22, some of the team reminisced on their season. “If I had to describe this season in a few words, I would say it has been a rollercoaster,” said Janasko. Francis added, “It’s been un- like any season I’ve ever been a part of, but challenges are good, and we’ve faced them together coming out stronger each time.”
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