The Phillies and Astros are currently squaring off in a split series of the 2022 World Series. Now, I’m not talking about an average switch involving broken equipment or anything like that. However, after starting pitcher Framber Valdez’s interesting ritual/equipment change against Philly last night, many have quickly circulated if history were repeating itself.
Houston, We Have A Problem
The Astros’ cheating scandal that led to their 2017 World Series win has undoubtedly followed them wherever they have gone since. Last night’s situation did nothing to silence the speculations that they were up to no good yet again after Valdez’s steller pitching line against the Phightins. In Game 2, he ended up going 6 1/3 innings pitched while allowing only one run which resulted in his team carrying the rest of the way to a 5-2 victory.
The Dominican Republic native was observed rubbing the ball into the palm of his right hand/wrist before eventually putting his glove on and pitching. One can only imagine what he was specifically doing but to me, it looks like he could be trying to gain a slight edge here. Unfortunately for him, it would not be the first eye-raising suspicion that viewers picked up on during the outing.
The second instance came when his cleats from the first inning did not look the same in the fifth inning when he took the bump. Could he have potentially put something in/on them to up his game? Or was it simply just an athlete’s ritual to spice things up and keep his mentality fresh as the game trudged on? Regardless, more and more people started taking notice as officials continued to turn a blind eye to it entirely.
To his defense, Valdez did explain that he typically has different cleats when warming up and that he made the decision to wear them during the game but switched after he endured one long inning. He told reporters, “Those are just things that us Dominicans do just some tendencies here and there. I even changed my mechanics I think at one point, but just things to stay loose.” His statement lines up with typical rituals that athletes follow but still, rumors were swirling after Game 2 of this World Series.
The Phillies, however, were not concerned with Valdez’ hand movements.
On The Horizon for Game 3 of World Series
The Phils fought valiantly while on the road and were fortunate enough to keep the series even at one game each as they come back home to play Games 3-5. Noah Syndergaard will be taking the bump for Philly opposite Houston’s starter in Lance McCullers Jr. Syndergaard struggled early on after joining the Phightins at the trade deadline but has since picked things up in the playoffs.
His crucial nine outs in the NLDS clincher were more than enough to help his team propel themselves to the World Series and the same will be asked again. His recent ability to thrive in tough spots only further highlights why the Phightins sought him out in the first place and hopefully, he can continue to provide in Game 3 of the World Series on Monday.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip