More than three years removed from MLB issuing its ruling in the scandal involving the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scheme, most of the baseball world seems to have moved on. Only a couple of players from those teams remain in Houston. The Astros won another title just last season, presumably free of any trash cans.
It’s safe to say that Chicago White Sox reliever Keynan Middleton, however, still remembers:
If Middleton seems a little inordinately fired up to have struck out Carlos Correa and sewn up an early-May victory over the Minnesota Twins, well, you could be correct. It turns out that Middleton still doesn’t think too highly of Correa or anyone else from those Astros teams, and he told the Associated Press all about it after the game:
“I knew I was going to face Correa, and I don’t like him,” Middleton said. “So it was kind of cool. I like that. I enjoyed that a lot. ... I mean, he’s a cheater.”
Well then. Correa, of course, was the starting shortstop and cleanup hitter for the 2017 Astros, who MLB determined to have used a center-field camera to steal signs during its run to a World Series title. After picking up on a pitcher’s signal, players in Houston dugout would allegedly bang on a trash can to signal to batters whether a fastball or breaking ball was coming.
Middleton broke in with the Los Angeles Angels that very same year, staying with the club through 2020 before pitching for the Seattle Mariners in 2021, so he spent a lot of time doing battle with Correa and Co. in the AL West. He had success against Houston as a rookie, but experienced some rough outings in ensuing seasons. The righty has been a breath of fresh air for a struggling White Sox bullpen so far, barging into the conversation for save opportunities with a 2.89 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 9.1 innings.
Correa, meanwhile, is off to a slow start after signing his big free-agent deal with the Twins over the winter. The shortstop is slashing .206/.287/.363 with 25 strikeouts in 102 at-bats this season.