When I first found out that the Houston Astros had reportedly cheated during the 2017 season, I was furious. Then when I found out that they had possibly cheated again in 2019, I was enraged. But, upon the conclusion of an MLB investigation, I reached my boiling point when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave the Astros a mere slap on the wrist as punishment.
If former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers hadn’t spoken up, we would still be in the dark about the Astros’ dirty little secret. (Big Papi, you look very small calling him a snitch.)
We live in a time where some people try to get away with anything they can, whether it’s in sports, politics, or parents using illegal means to get their kids into college.
The PED scandal was an awful period, one that was covered up by then-MLB-Commissioner Bud Selig (he maintains he didn’t realize how rampant the cheating was, but I don’t believe him for a second) because home runs were bringing people back to the ballparks after the 1994 player’s strike. But, that’s really nothing compared to the Astros’ cheating. This has become the worst period baseball has seen since the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
In that instance, the Chicago White Sox took gamblers’ money to throw the 1919 World Series. The Astros used illegal methods to help them win the 2017 World Series, even after all MLB teams were warned against utilizing such practices.
Manfred’s punishment – one-year suspensions for GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, the loss of first and second-round picks in 2020-2021, and a $5M fine – did nothing to penalize the people most responsible for the cheating itself: the players.
It’s beyond absurd that not one Astros player has been banned from the game, or suspended for a minimum of at least a year. Manfred feels the sheer humiliation alone will haunt the cheaters for the rest of their days. Seriously? Has he not heard the ridiculous, weak apologies by current and former Astros that have only compounded the problem?
“I should have stopped it.” “I feel remorseful about what took place.” And then, of course, there were the don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it so-called apologies from Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman.
“I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me. I have learned from this and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans.” – Alex Bregman
Jose Altuve said the Astros had a “great team meeting” and that the “whole Astros organization feels bad for what happened in 2017.”
“[I] especially feel remorse for the impact on our fans and the game of baseball,” he said.
What exactly are you remorseful about, Jose? Not once did the Astros mention exactly what they had done. The only reason the players are speaking up at all is because they got caught.
Astros owner Jim Crane looked to be a stand-up guy when he immediately fired Luhnow and Hinch, but it turns out he’s rotten to the core.
“Our opinion is, this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team, we won the World Series. We’ll leave it at that.” – Jim Crane
You could hear the word “WHAT?” shouted in unison around the world. The cheating that took place impacted every part of the game. And, stop referring to it as “this” or “what transpired.” Call it what it is…CHEATING!
Teams’ fanbases are angry. Players and front office personnel from other teams are angry. About the only people who aren’t angry are the Astros’ fanbase, the majority of which are willing to look the other way.
Astros, Manfred boot the ball
Teams are being warned not to throw at the Astros players. They’re basically being told to sit down and shut up. But, it’s not working. Players from Aaron Judge to Trevor Bauer to Justin Turner to Clay Bellinger are speaking out against the Astros and how this whole fiasco has been handled.
Manfred threw fuel on the fire by defending his position and calling the Commissioner’s Trophy “a piece of metal”. He quickly tried to walk the trophy description back, but the damage was done.
I don’t see Manfred changing his stance with suspending/barring players. He doesn’t want to go up against the players’ union. But, the union is also divided between the Astros and members of the other teams.
There is only one solution…the Astros’ title MUST be taken away from them.
It would still leave a black mark on the game of baseball, but it would truly punish Houston for cheating. While the Astros would keep their playoff shares and their rings, they would be forbidden from hanging the championship banner and they could not, in any way, advertise/promote themselves as the 2017 World Series champions. Their names must be erased from the record books and it would stand that the Astros still had not won a World Series title.
That is as severe a punishment that can be dealt out given the circumstances and one that will discourage teams from cheating in the future. It’s also the only way to make things equitable for the players that are not Astros.