There’s a dreaded word in the English language: one championship teams hope never to hear in association with themselves. If for some reason a title is deemed unworthy either officially by the governing body or unofficially by fans and pundits; they’ll be branded with an asterisk.
The 2017 Houston Astros are the most recent team to earn the “asterisk,” distinction; with an illegal sign stealing scandal marring the team’s first World Series championship. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred officially let the team hang onto the title, many in the baseball world don’t really acknowledge it.
Home run king Barry Bonds’s record of 762 long balls also still officially stands but his use of steroids to reach that mark has kept him out of the Hall of Fame; clearly indicating how the sport feels about his accomplishment.
In the NBA the 2001-02 Los Angeles Lakers could also be considered asterisk champs; as they received some help from disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. A letter signed by his lawyer in admitted he favored the Lakers (who he’d bet on winning) with his calls; leading to Los Angeles shooting 15 more free throws than opponent Sacramento Kings.
But no matter what happens with the 2020 MLB season; the World Series champion will be just that: a champion. Despite a shortened season, horrific negations and the mental and emotional strain combining to create a season that will surely be unlike any other; an asterisk should not accompany a title.
No, it won’t be traditional. Team’s won’t have to slog through the 162-game marathon the regular season normally consists of; nor will they have to contend with hostile fans in raucous environments.
But the will have weathered a storm of unprecedented off-field obstacles while still navigating the maze of about 60 contests in less than days.
They’ll likely have dealt with player’s opting out of the season and survived through an expanded playoff field. They’ll have worked through brutal negotiations; and lived through a country that exploded from almost totally shut down to packing the street with social protests in the matter of days.
But most importantly, they’ll have earned the victory.
Barring foul play, this year’s championship honestly could carry even more weight. With the playing field leveled by uncharted waters; it certainly is possible a dark horse team takes the league by storm. There’s no telling how individuals will perform under such unique circumstances or what kind of magic could take over the season.
But no matter what, every player that decides to play will demonstrate courage and dedication; passion and composure. That’s good enough for me.