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Sports

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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Opinions

Editorial: The cheating rats of Concordia University

Don’t think for one second this whole cheating scandal is an anomaly. Our university is plagued with cheating—whether the administration knows it or not.

Last week, La Presse reported that a Concordia student and his tutor were embroiled in a cheating scandal. The publication reported that Abdullaziz Almuhaidib, a 24-year-old student, paid his tutor, John Karras, to impersonate him and write his final exam.

This deception was discovered, and both individuals now face an array of criminal charges, according to the Montreal Gazette. Almuhaidib faces charges of “personation at an examination,” along with conspiracy. Karras faces charges of impersonating at an exam, identity fraud, using a forged document and conspiracy, according to the same report.

There were 387 students charged with cheating at Concordia, according to the Office of Student Tribunals, which reports these figures annually to the Senate. This figure represents less than one per cent of the student population, according to Cléa Desjardins, senior advisor of external communications for the university.

While this percentage appears to be fairly low, we should also consider there are many cheaters who probably don’t get caught. There are various ways students can cheat and get away with it.

Think about the numerous tests banks getting released just in time for final exams on student groups, crash-course tutors doing assignments for their students in exchange for cash, or students who group together and take online tests at the same time—many of us have surely heard of students engaging in such activities.

Many students are willing to pay a hefty price for a perfect grade. Attend any of these crash course tutoring sessions, which are heavily advertised around campus, and we guarantee you’ll find someone there willing to do your schoolwork in exchange for money.

If these allegations against Karras are true, then how long has he been doing this for? How many students aced a course because of his nefarious services, or those at Montreal Tutoring? How are these services monitored?

Karras is well known in the JMSB community, and released a statement via his company Montreal Tutoring, saying he will continue to provide tutorials in the wake of these allegations. He also added that his utmost importance is his student’s success.

This merger between capitalism and academia demonstrates the importance placed solely on grades, instead of actually learning the material for educational purposes. It also reflects how cutthroat many programs can be, forcing students to make poor decisions and engage in immoral behaviour.

To the university’s administration, we urge you to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s time to introduce new measures that’ll make it harder for students to cheat, whilst also being aware of possible leaks from those in authoritative positions.

To our fellow students, we remind you that university is not a game. This is not just about getting a degree, it’s about acquiring the knowledge that will allow us to serve a purpose in our field and in society. There’s no room for cheating in the equation, and if you’re feeling tempted, just ask Almuhaidib if it was worth it.

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