How the Houston Astros ruined baseball


via Culture Map Houston

The fallout of the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal has overtaken the MLB, creating complete and utter chaos across the baseball landscape.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, the Astros used cameras in the stands to “steal signs” from opposing pitchers. This enabled them to learn the exact pitch the pitcher was throwing and relay this information to their batters. In order to communicate their insights, they would bang on a trash can in the dugout, alerting the batter of a curveball or other offspeed pitch.

Making it even worse, the Astros won the World Series during one of the seasons they cheated.

During the 2017 World Series, sign stealing played a significant role in leading the Astros to victory. They could only utilize this ploy when playing at their home field and their hitting averages soared during series games played in Houston. MVP second-baseman Jose Altuve batted .472 at home and .143 on the road. Shortstop Carlos Correa was .371 at home but just .211 on the road.

Despite the far-ranging consequences of their cheating method, the MLB refused to dish out fair punishment. The Astros’ manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow were each suspended for a season and then immediately fired. The organization was fined $5 million dollars and was forced to surrender their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.

While this discipline applied to just two managers, the MLB allowed all of the implicated players to walk away unharmed. The players, who many deemed to be the center of the scandal, avoided any repercussions from the MLB.

As a result, players around the league have expressed their frustration. Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger stated “I don’t think these [cheaters] should be able to look pitchers in the eye. They should feel ashamed.”

Former Tribe pitcher Trevor Bauer exclaimed that he’s “not going to let them forget the fact they are hypocrites.”

“They are cheaters,” Bauer said. “They’ve stolen from a lot of other people, and the game itself was entirely unfair.”

Many opposing pitchers have also alluded that they will intentionally throw at Astros’ batters in the upcoming season. The MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, has said that any retaliation against individual players will be met with strict discipline (a hypocritical comment considering how the Astros’ players went unpunished).

The MLB’s failure to exact sanctions fitting the crime is baffling and leaves a dark stain on baseball. In the past, the MLB has suspended players for life for gambling on games. Yet, they fail to suspend a single player for even one game when they partake in the worst cheating scandal to ever strike the sport since the Black Sox.  

Manfred had the chance to shut down cheating scandals of this magnitude permanently. Suspension of players and revocation of the World Series title would have sent a clear message to players that cheating is not a part of baseball. Instead, teams are left with the message that any means of winning is condoned and that cheating is more-than-worth-it in baseball.