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Monday, November 29, 2021
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Braves, Astros to meet in MLB World Series

The Houston Astros, unfazed by a cheating scandal that led to their 2017 World Series championship, will return to baseball’s biggest stage for the third time in five years this week and are slight favorites to beat the Atlanta Braves.

The best-of-seven championship will renew a rivalry between the old foes given the teams met in the National League Division Series five times from 1997-2005 over a nine-year span before the Astros moved to the American League.

Houston will undoubtedly enjoy plenty of support from their fans but will get little to no backing from most observers given a handful of players remain from the team that were found guilty of cheating for stealing pitch signs en route to the 2017 title.

An MLB probe revealed in January 2020 that Astros employees watched a feed from a center field camera to decode signs, and banged on a trash can to tell batters what pitches to expect during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Astros received a maximum $5 million fine, forfeited first and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and their manager and general manager were each suspended one year before swiftly being fired by Astros owner Jim Crane.

Houston had the better regular season record and will host the first two games of the World Series on Tuesday and Wednesday before play shifts to Atlanta on the weekend.

The Astros, who fell to the Washington Nationals in the 2019 World Series, are the more experienced of the two teams given the presence of seasoned players like infielders Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.

Atlanta, who secured their spot in the World Series after an upset of the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, are returning to the championship series for the first time since they were swept by the New York Yankees in 1999.

The Braves hold an edge in pitching, with the potential to send Max Fried and Charlie Morton, the latter who won the 2017 World Series with Houston, out for the first two games.

Atlanta are a confident bunch having overcome a number of obstacles, including the loss of slugger Marcell Ozuna to a hand injury and legal troubles followed by a season-ending knee injury suffered by dynamic outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. in July.

(Production: David Grip)

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