That seems to be the question baseball fans everywhere are asking as news broke recently of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.
If you haven’t heard already, somehow with how fast and prominent this news has come out, the Astros were caught stealing signs from other teams en route to their 2017 World Series win. To put it simply, the Astros basically knew exactly what to expect from an opposing pitcher. That makes the whole hitting thing a bit easier when you know what’s coming.
As punishment, the league suspended Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch for the entire 2020 season and stripped the Astros of four draft picks, finally adding a $5 million fine. They didn’t take away their World Series championship, or add an asterisk, or punish the players. Was it enough?
Many fans don’t think so, calling for their title to be stripped or for the players to see harsher punishment. Unfortunately for these fans, Commissioner Rob Manfred disagrees with these intentions.
“Yeah, I understand,” said Manfred. “I understand people’s desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here. I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price. To think they’re skipping down the road into Spring training, happy, that’s just a mischaracterization of where we are…”
“The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act. People will always know that something was different about the 2017 season…”
Although the opinion may be unpopular, I tend to agree with Manfred. I don’t think there needs to be any more punishment in this case. Forever, that 2017 title will mean nothing, and the legacy left behind from these players will be diminished. They will never truly be able to recover from acting in such deceitful ways. And, what else can the league or anyone do? We can’t go back to 2017 and fix this. There is only so much the league can do.
The one thing that does warrant more of a punishment is the fact that they stole a year from these other players. They stole a World Series title from the Dodgers and the chance to get there from the Yankees, and so many other potential results that we couldn’t see because of their actions. Players only have so many years to play the game, and by taking away these opportunities is defeating to anyone in the league.
Although it doesn’t appear that the league will be taking any further action in disciplining the ‘Stros, it seems like the players are taking it into their own hands. Paired with harsh words of disdain, MLB pitchers seem prepared to constantly pelt Houston players at the plate, giving us one of the most unique prop bets for the MLB regular season. Through William Hill sports book, there is an 83.5 over/under on the amount of times an Astros players will be hit by pitch. Over the past five seasons, only nine teams have hit this number, and they didn’t cheat the entire league.
While it seems like we have seen the end of any league punishment to the Astros, I do believe they have seen enough discipline and defamation to remedy this situation to the best of their ability.
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