Let’s start by setting the record straight: Major League Baseball found that the Houston Astros cheated throughout the 2017 season, including the playoffs, but did not strip the Astros of their championship. Consider me incredibly confused.
To recap: The Astros used cameras and video equipment to steal the signs opposing catchers gave their pitchers. Those signs were then relayed to the batter to let him know whether the next pitch would be a breaking ball or a fastball. Let me repeat: throughout the season, Astros batters knew what pitch was coming next.
And despite some of the harshest penalties ever levied at a franchise, and findings that have led to the firings of three different managers throughout the league, which we’ll get to – the Astros are still sitting here with a world title. It makes no sense.
Imagine if an NFL team was able to hack into an opposing team’s radio frequency and know all the plays that were coming before they happened. Or if an NHL team or Major League Soccer team was able to play all their games with a one-man advantage. It’s the kind of lopsided edge that is simply unfair. And it happened all throughout a season when a team won it all. And they get to keep the trophy!
Listen, I’m not saying other teams throughout the league haven’t pushed the envelope, trying to find ways to game the system. Who knows how close to home something like this might hit one day. But the fact that a champion was caught and details have been confirmed, has me scratching my head why the stripping of their title wasn’t the very FIRST punishment handed down.
Now, this stuff isn’t going away. The Boston Red Sox fired Alex Cora and the Mets fired Carlos Beltran this week, two men who were intimately involved in the sign-stealing affair in Houston in 2017. The Red Sox are now being investigated for the same thing as the Astros. If they’re found culpable for doing the same thing during their championship run in 2018, they should be stripped of their title too.
As has been discussed in other evaluations, this sign stealing scandal has far-reaching implications – everything from damaging reputations of opposing pitchers to even ruining the careers of pitchers who were simply trying to make it at the major-league level.
When teams aren’t playing by the same rules, or, in the Astros case, blatantly breaking the rules, the credibility of the sport comes under question. But when the sport’s administrative body neglects to swing its sword as powerfully as it could’ve – or as it should’ve – in response to such egregious behavior, that’s as damning as the act of cheating itself.
A championship is tarnished forever, sure. But somehow, for now, in the annals of baseball, it’s still considered a championship. The sport should be embarrassed that’s still the case.