The Houston Astros are facing high heat after many reports have been released of them using aerial view cameras to steal signs. The first reports of this act of cheating came in November of 2019, when allegations surfaced there had been sign stealing in their 2017 World Series Championship run, and the scandal has continued ever since. When there was video evidence put on Twitter of a loud banging coming from the Astros dugout during the 2019 playoffs, suspicions began to rise. It was found that this banging was happening whenever the catcher signaled for an off-speed pitch to be thrown, which gave the batter an insight, an idea of what to expect, and most importantly, an advantage. MLB officials of course had to crack down on this, and in light of that, handed out one year suspensions to the Astros General Manager and manager, a $5 million dollar fine and taking away their first and second round draft picks for 2020 and 2021. My thoughts on that punishment: weak, very weak.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has released multiple statements about the situation, most notably confirming that the Astros illegally stole signs during the 2017 playoffs.”There was conflicting evidence on that point. But, you know, in an investigation you often have conflicting evidence…” he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. When he was asked if the Astros would be forced to forfeit the 2017 title he said it would be “unrealistic” and “the public humiliation the Astros have faced is enough punishment.” He also said in a separate interview that any act against an Astros player, such as intentionally throwing at them while hitting, will result in a fine and suspension. This means that any player that gives the Astros what they deserve will face a punishment more significant than those that actually cheated.
Many MLB stars are also weighing in on the discussion. Three time MVP Mike Trout said, “I don’t agree with the punishments, the players not getting anything, It was a player driven thing.” He then went on to say, “I lost some respect for some of those guys.”
Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger was directly effected by the cheating as he was been with the Dodgers since 2017. When he got his turn to speak about the scandal, he didn’t take it lightly. “I thought the apologies were whatever, I thought Jim Crane’s was weak, I thought Manfred punishments was weak…” He then said, “Everyone knows they stole the ring from us” and “I definitely lost respect for those guys.”
The thing that struck me the most is that the Astros players have bee so inconsistent with trying to cover it up. In the 2019 playoffs, Jose Altuve hit a walk-off home run in game of 6 of the ALCS to send the Astros to the World Series. This is something that would make any baseball player the happiest player in the world. What did Altuve do? He told all of his teammates to not rip off his jersey. He then immediately ran to the dugout, changed his shirt, and went to do his interview. Pretty suspicious, right? Reports were released after seeing this that the Astros had been using a buzzer system to alert the players of what pitch was coming, and it is thought that Altuve was wearing a buzzer and did not want it to be revealed. Teammates of Altuve have said that “he is embarrassed about his body,” “his wife didn’t want him to have his shirt off,” and that “he had a tattoo that was unfinished that didn’t look good, so he didn’t want to show it off.”
In my eyes, this situation makes Rob Manfred look very infirm. When he is the head of one of, if not, the largest sports industries in the world and he chooses to say that verbal punishment is “enough” for cheating and perhaps stealing a World Series title from another team. He is foolish. He is basically implying that it is okay to cheat, and this looks very bad on his part and baseball as a whole. I have certainly lost respect for all of the Astros players involved, and the Astros organization.