The New York Yankees are chasing their first World Series title since 2009, but general manager Brian Cashman thinks there should be a glaring exception within the discussion of a championship drought.
Cashman, in an interview Wednesday with The Athletic, disputed the notion that the Yankees are in a prolonged title skid and cited the 2017 team that lost in the American League Championship Series to the Houston Astros, who were eventually sanctioned by Major League Baseball for illicitly stealing opposing teams' signs.
"The only thing that stopped [the 2017 Yankees] was something that was so illegal and horrific," Cashman told The Athletic. "So I get offended when I start hearing we haven't been to the World Series since '09. Because I'm like, 'Well, I think we actually did it the right way.' Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off."
MLB revealed in 2020 that the Astros used a center-field camera, video monitor and trash can to relay opposing teams' pitches to Houston hitters in real time during the 2017 season. The Astros defeated the Yankees in seven games in the 2017 ALCS before beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
The Yankees have been among the Astros' harshest critics since MLB's announcement over two years ago, and Cashman acknowledged Wednesday that he still considers the sign-stealing scandal when evaluating New York's recent dry spell.
"I'm past it now," Cashman told The Athletic. "But it does bother me when it comes up. We built something that -- I can't tell you we would have won. I can't tell you we would have beat the Dodgers. But I do feel pretty confident that that team [the Astros] wasn't stopping us, if it wasn't for those advantages. That's all."
The Yankees have reached the playoffs every year since their 2017 loss to Houston but have not advanced beyond the ALCS and have won only one AL East division title over that stretch.
Their last trip to the Fall Classic was in 2009, when they beat the Philadelphia Phillies for the 27th championship in franchise history, but Cashman still considers the 2017 Yankees a "World Series team."
"People are like 'Oh, we haven't been to a World Series' ... and I'm like, 'Yeah, I don't think that's as true a statement as it could be,'" he said. "We had a World Series team, and either you get it done or you don't.
"People don't want to hear that, I get it. But that's real to me. I think it's real to all of us."