If Houston was caught cheating again, it would be delicious. There would be nothing better in baseball. It would vindicate all of us who yelled and screamed that by not punishing players, you give them free reign to cheat more or cheat again.

It would embarrass the entire Astros Asterisks franchise and even better, it would make the worst commissioner in the history of modern North American sports look even more incompetent than he already is at his job.

I would sign up for that drama and that storyline in a heartbeat.

But the internet sleuths, the Sherlock Holmes wannabes on Twitter, who are slicing up video and telling us to look at Framber Valdez’s actions as a pitcher, are in the wrong. He touches his hair. He uses his thumb to touch his other hand. He switches gloves and cleats mid-game! How suspicious! These people drive me nuts.

Now, we weren’t the only entity pointing this out. There were many. Just search Valdez on Google or Twitter and you’ll see how bezerk the interwebs went.

But I pointed us out because, yes, even our folks were caught up in the hysteria.

Now, to his credit, Kevin Kinkead put a simple post up not taking a side, but just presenting what others had already presented and left it up to you to decide. That is certainly fair, especially since it was trending. But the tweet-by-tweet breakdowns of alleged injustices and blind eyes being turned to Houston’s supposed impropriety is overboard.

Look, it’s quite possible, in fact it’s actually very probable, that Valdez just pitched a gem of a game against the Phillies in a 5-2 Houston win in Game 2 of the World Series that sent it to Philadelphia tied at one game each.

I’ll never say it’s 100 percent fact – because we all know that in baseball, and not just with Houston, if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’, but for the conspiracy theorists to make this so viral, and to take away from what has been an absolutely awesome postseason, where the only accusations of cheating have come out of desperation from the LOLMets, leading to umpires rubbing San Diego pitcher Joe Musgrove’s ears like a teething baby because they could only get one measly hit off a guy the Phillies beat up on less than two weeks later, is galling.

I understand why, after all. It is Texas, so when someone points at the Houston lefty, and shows him constantly reaching back with his pitching hand and rubbing his long, sweaty locks, it’s easy to put the clicker on the video and drone on repeatedly, “Back and to the left. Back and to the left.”

But the reality is, if you watch Valdez pitch all year, this is what he does. Dude is twitchy AF. And no one has said anything about it until now? He plays for a team notorious for cheating. Why wouldn’t anyone say anything before now?

And to the Phillies credit, they said they’ve seen him do this before and they have no problem with it. Manager Rob Thomson said that if he is doing anything, the MLB will take care of it because they are checking him – and every other pitcher – after every inning. Although, to be fair to the conspiracists, the umpires only basically go through the motions, checking for dish pan hands and life lines on pitcher’s palms more than illegal substances.

Forced to defend himself after pitching a sensational game, Valdez called it a “tendency.” He said it’s something he and other Dominican-born pitchers do as a way to disrupt or distract a hitter. He’s not wrong there either. Ever watch Johnny Cueto pitch and all his histrionics meant to throw off a batter’s timing? Remember when Hansel Robles pitched for the Mets and nearly took Darrin Ruf’s head off with a quick pitch that sent Larry Bowa into a conniption on the bench?

The point is, all of this Internet whining is unbecoming of Phillies fans at this point. We cackled at the Mets doing it 12 outs from elimination in the Wild Card round. Why do we want to do it in Game 2 of the World Series?

If there’s anything to be pissed about with Manfred and his blind eye toward player cheating, it should be what happened in Game 1 – which was Houston catcher Martin Maldonado using an illegal bat that he got from Albert Pujols. The bat was banned in an effort to protect players because of it’s frequency of shattering and splintering, and at the time, the MLB grandfathered any player who was around in 2010 to still be able to use it.

Maldonado debuted in 2011.

Still, Maldonado, who had an RBI single off Aaron Nola with said illegal bat, was given just a slap on the wrist by Manfred and the MLB telling him he just can’t use the bat anymore. No fine. No suspension. Just, “Don’t cheat again, all right, Martin?”

And for those of you who think I’m being a bit crazy now, like the conspiratwerps, the difference is Maldonado actually used an illegal bat and the league acknowledged it, and did nothing but take it out of rotation. Not to mention, the MLB expects these athletes to know what every 13-letter substance is in cold medicine, or a prescription provided by a doctor that could be banned or considered performance-enhancing, but the league doesn’t expect them to know what bats are illegal? It’s a damn clown show in Manfred’s office, I tell you.

As for Game 2, Houston pounded Zack Wheeler, a pitcher they had never seen before and decided just to attack early and often, forcing Wheeler to change his approach slightly, and even that didn’t work. Like Nola, the Astros dinged up Wheeler for five runs, four of which were earned.

And unlike Game 1, the Phillies couldn’t mount a comeback, because Valdez pitched a much stronger game than Justin Verlander. Plain and simple. It’s baseball. This stuff happens.

The Phillies had their chances too, and missed out on them.

In the fifth inning, Jean Segura led of with a single only to be wiped out immediately by a Matt Vierling double play. In the sixth, the Phillies got the first two batters on as Kyle Schwarber walked and Rhys Hoskins got a single. But Game 1 hero J.T. Realmuto struck out and Bryce Harper hit into a double play to end the inning.

In the seventh, Nick Castellanos led off with a double and moved to third on a ground out, but Segura’s fly ball to left just missed the Crawford boxes for a two-run homer, and instead was caught for a sacrifice fly. In the eighth, things got wild. First Schwarber hit a home run that wasn’t.

And then, after rounding the bases, having the call overturned and having to step back in the box, on the next pitch crushed another ball to right field, but it fell just short and was caught.

That could have gotten the Phillies within two. Later the same inning, Harper stepped to the plate with two runners on and popped out harmlessly.

In the ninth, the Phillies plated a run thanks to a Yuli Gurriel error at first base, and were one batter away from getting Schwarber back to the plate as the tying run, but Bryson Stott grounded out to end the game.

That’s five innings where the Phillies had something brewing, and although they did get two runs out of all that, they could have gotten more.

But they didn’t, and they head home with a split in Houston, which, if you asked any fan, they would have taken before the series even started. But, fans started to get greedy, and want to win every game, and look for someone or something to point a finger at that cost their team a date with destiny, forgetting that the Asterisks did win 106 games and may be the most complete and deep team in the sport.

Everything changes now, as Houston is coming to the jungle, and really doesn’t know what will be waiting for them. The Phillies need the fans to be as rabid and raucous as ever and to unnerve the Asterisks at every at bat. At every pitch thrown.

There is more drama coming, I’m certain of that. It’ll be enjoyable too, just so long as it’s not drama that fans are manufacturing themselves.

Unless, of course, they weren’t. 😉