By Travis Politakis
In January 2020, Major League Baseball (MLB) released their punishment on the Houston Astros for illegally using technology to steal signs during the 2017 season, in which the Astros won the World Series. The punishment included suspending Astros manager AJ Hinch for the totality of the upcoming 2020 season, along with suspending Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran who were members of the Astros in 2017 and were active participants of the scandal. Astros General Manager, Jeff Luhnow was also suspended for the length of the 2020 season.
The cheating scandal was first reported in November 2019 when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers had a sitdown interview with MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal. Fiers and other unnamed sources talked about how in 2017 the Astros had a camera set up in centerfield of their home stadium which sent a feed to computer monitors set up outside of the Astros tunnel. As the signals came into the monitors, the Astros bullpen would bang on trash cans before the pitch, alerting the batter that an offspeed pitch was coming, providing the hitter with a distinct advantage over the opposing pitcher.
Since the firestorm broke out, the baseball world has been pure chaos. Players and coaches have been stating their displeasure with the Astros organization, fans have been demanding apologies and explanations, and some even want the Astros 2017 title to be revoked.
The Astros waited a whole month to deliver an apology that quite frankly, wasn’t much of an apology at all. Astros second baseman and 2017 MLB Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve read his apology off of a piece of paper which stated, “The whole Astros organization feels bad for what happened in 2017.” A 35-second apology so sincere that he couldn’t take the time to memorize three entire sentences.
Astros owner, Jim Crane, did not own up to the wrongdoing, but rather tried to fabricate it by saying how he doesn’t think it “affected the outcome of the games,” and also how he thinks that none of his players should be punished.
One reporter at the press conference asked Crane about what he was apologizing for if he doesn’t think it affected the game. Crane replied saying, “We are apologizing because we broke the rules.”
The apology by the organization was one of the worst and least remorseful apologies in the history of sports. They totally threw away the integrity of the game of baseball and tried to cover it up like nothing happened.
The apology was almost like when a teacher catches a student cheating on a test, and the student apologizes in an attempt to save his grade. The student is not apologizing because he is truly remorseful, he is apologizing because he got caught. That is exactly what the Astros organization did.
New York Yankees superstar right fielder Aaron Judge voiced his displeasure with the Astros organization during a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 19. When Judge found out about the scandal in January, he deleted an Instagram post from 2017 that congratulated Jose Altuve on winning the MVP, as Judge came in second place in voting behind Altuve.
“I thought the punishment was weak for a player-driven scheme that no players got any punishment,” said Judge in a press conference. “I don’t think their 2017 championship holds any value. You cheated and you didn’t earn it. I took the Altuve post down right when the story came out. I had a lot of respect for those guys and for what they did for the city of Houston. But then to find out that they cheated and didn’t earn it, that didn’t sit well with me.”
The fact that no player has been suspended is baffling not only to me, but to millions of other MLB fans. The MLB released a statement that talked about how there will be severe punishment for anyone who tries to intentionally throw at an Astros batter. Hope International University pitching coach Jared Tims summed this tactic up in a tweet saying, “If a pitcher gets suspended for throwing at an Astros player he will be suspended longer for doing that than any Astros player was suspended for cheating. Let that sink in.”
Former Astros manager AJ Hinch did a tell-all interview with MLB Network and talked about how he did not approve of the cheating that was going on under his watch. He even told a story about how multiple times he took a baseball bat and destroyed the monitors that were being used to cheat. Yet, the monitors were set up again behind is back.
If what Hinch is saying is true, players should have received punishment, not just coaches. The Astros just put the entire MLB against them and have made their way to a title even harder. Teams want to beat them and will play harder against them. Fans want to watch them lose and will show up and cheer louder against them, making the road atmosphere toxic and chaotic. The Astros went from a Cinderella story to cold-hearted cheaters in a matter of months.
Travis Politakis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org