White Sox' Dallas Keuchel defends 2017 Houston Astros as World Series champs

Vinnie Duber
NBC Sports Chicago

GLENDALE, Ariz. - There is no part of Major League Baseball that the tentacles of the ongoing Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal do not touch.

While the White Sox don't have quite as much reason to be steamed over the illegal doings of the Astros during the 2017 season as, say, the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees - the 95 losses on the South Side had far more to do with their not winning the World Series - they do now employ a member of the team that has come under so much scrutiny this offseason.

Dallas Keuchel first addressed the situation a couple of weeks ago at SoxFest when he was one of the first players to offer an apology for what went on in 2017. While Keuchel spoke again of his own personal remorse on Thursday at Camelback Ranch, he touched on new ground, this time defending his former teammates.

The scandal dominated the news, once again, on Thursday when the Astros met the media for the first time as their own camp got started in Florida. Keuchel was asked if he thought it was important for the other players on that championship team to show the rest of the sport that they are remorseful, too.

"I'm just one dude. I guess it's ultimately up to the individual," he said. "We're always going to be World Series champs because we were talented and, to me, we earned the right to be World Series champs.

"Just because stuff came out about the 2017 Astros doesn't mean other teams weren't doing illegal stuff. It just means we were the ones that were caught.

"I'm not here to dig into anything that happens. That's my feeling. But ultimately it's up to the individual to show remorse or try to move on. I chose the remorse route because, personally, I felt that was what was owed. I felt like I owed it to my family and that's how I was raised.

"I'm just going to remember that but at the same time, I'm going to try to help this organization win for the next three, hopefully four or five years down the road."

The particular assertion that the Astros earned their World Series championship in 2017 might lift an eyebrow or two considering the Astros are now confirmed to have cheated their way to the title, whether they were talented enough to win it without their extensive cheating apparatus or not. One of the things that was so odd about the whole scenario is that the Astros seemed quite capable of winning a World Series without cheating.

Stripping the Astros of their trophy and the players of their rings never seemed like a viable punishment. After all, it's that kind of meaningless rewriting of history that the NCAA is so often ridiculed for. The Astros will always be 2017 World Series champions because we all watched them win it.

Of course, not everyone needs to be happy about that. While none of Keuchel's new teammates have publicly voiced displeasure with what went on in 2017, the rest of the baseball world has not been silent. Players around the game have voiced their opinions, with former White Sox pitcher David Robertson saying at the opening of Philadelphia Phillies camp that "it's a disgrace what they've done and they're going to have to live with it."

With players still obviously upset with how the Astros behaved and treated the game, it made sense that Keuchel was asked on Thursday if he felt a need to clear the air with his new White Sox teammates.

"I don't necessarily think so," he said. "I'm pretty much an open book with my teammates. And like I said, the state of baseball, it was what it was at that time. If they want to talk to me about anything, I'm more than open to talk to them about it.

"It's one of those things where we've got to move on. We've got to remember the past, but we've got to look toward the future and figure out what the best route is to go."

While this topic might be getting old for some, especially considering its minimal effect on the White Sox, there's no doubting how big of a deal it remains across baseball. It seems like every day brings some new nugget about who knew what and when, who was running the operation and when, and just how effective it was or wasn't.

Keuchel says the game needs to move on. And it will. Baseball has eventually moved on from just about everything. It just might not move on quickly.

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White Sox' Dallas Keuchel defends 2017 Houston Astros as World Series champs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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