Home Sports Colour Commentary: The MLB missed the mark on the Astros cheating scandal

Colour Commentary: The MLB missed the mark on the Astros cheating scandal

by Matthew Ohayon March 3, 2020
Colour Commentary: The MLB missed the mark on the Astros cheating scandal

On Nov. 12, 2019, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich came out with a damning report that the Houston Astros illicitly stole signs during the 2017 and 2018 Major League Baseball seasons.

Mike Fiers, a former Astros pitcher, said that the Astros had an intricate system which involved a centre-field camera that gave a feed to someone behind the Astros’ dugout at their home stadium. Then, a member of the Astros organization would hit a garbage can to signal what pitch would be coming based on the sign the opposing catcher gave to the pitcher.

On Jan. 13, 2020, Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB confirmed the allegations against the Astros. The trashcan method was only used during the 2017 season, the same season that the Astros claimed their first World Series Championship in the franchise’s history.

Manfred then threw the hammer down on the Astros, fining them $5 million USD, suspending their manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for the entirety of the 2020 season, and forcing them to forfeit their first and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. Moments after Manfred confirmed the allegations, the Astros’ owner Jim Crane fired both Hinch and Luhnow.

The punishment is undoubtedly harsh, but was it enough?

Well, the short answer is no.

The players were all given immunity by the MLB because of their cooperation with the investigation. Even if Manfred were to suspend some of the players, it is technically on the manager to make them aware of the rules. So the case of suspending them becomes one of legality, not morality. They knew what they were doing was wrong, however if an arbitrator were to get involved with the MLB Players Association, there would be enough of a case in favour of the Astros’ players to absolve them of all wrongdoing.

What about the championship though? That is an organizational feat, not just one by the players. This is where I feel like the MLB missed the mark.

The MLB had no problem cancelling the 1994 postseason, but for whatever reason they have a problem with stripping the Astros of a tainted title. Sign stealing has been around forever, and the counter argument to it is “create better signs,” but that becomes moot when a team is illegally videoing the opposition.

Baseball is a sport that polices itself. I’m sure some players will be hit by pitches, but at the end of the day they’ll still have their rings on their fingers and a banner hanging at Minute Maid Park.

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