This past week Major League Baseball handed down the punishments for the Houston Astros amid their sign-stealing scandal. The punishment includes one-year suspensions for team General Manager Jeff Luhnow and team Manager AJ Hinch, and both were subsequently fired by the Astros. The ballclub itself was fined $5M, and lost their first and second-round draft picks in 2021 and 2022.
The baseball world is split down the middle. Some say the punishment was too harsh, and some say the punishment wasn’t harsh enough. I am on the side of it wasn’t harsh enough. I am not one that normally says Championship titles should be taken away, but in this case, MLB has to vacate the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series win.
Tipping pitches and stealing signs is a part of baseball. Players study pitchers and try to figure out if they have a tell. Maybe they hold their glove lower when they throw a breaking ball, or maybe their windup is just a tad bit different when they throw a fastball, it’s a part of the game. But when you take a camera and put it in the outfield and use it to spy on the pitcher and catcher, you take it to a whole other level.
This World Series win will forever be tainted anyway. There will forever be an asterisk next to the 2017 World Series Championship because of what the Astros did. The Los Angeles Dodgers were cheated out of a Championship. Yu Darvish suffered the most. Darvish only managed to get 5 outs in his Game 3 loss in Houston, and did the same in his Game 7 defeat.
People killed Darvish online and in articles because of that performance. Now I will say this, Darvish still choked, but it makes you think if he only did poorly because Houston knew what was coming. Just look at Darvish during the NLDS and NLCS. Darvish had an ERA of 1.80 and 1.42 respectively and only surrendered two runs. I understand it was against the Diamondbacks and Cubs, but there shouldn’t have been that much of a drop-off.
Not only Darvish but Clayton Kershaw as well. What is the first thing people say when Kershaw’s name is brought up? “Can’t win in the postseason”. The Astros took that World Series away from Kershaw. We may still be saying Kershaw isn’t a great postseason pitcher, but he would have a World Series under his belt. Players got sent down, coaches lost their jobs because the Astros knew what pitches the Dodgers were throwing.
When millionaires get arrested and charged with inside trading, they don’t get to keep the money that they “earned”, they have to give it back. The Houston Astros get to say, “well yeah we cheated, but hey, we still have the Championship”. I’m not even calling for the players to be punished because at that point you’d have to suspend the entire team, but taking away a Championship? That’s worse than a suspension.
Players play the game for championships. Some may do it for the money or the fame, but they’d be lying if they said they didn’t want the rings. So even though the entire team was complicit, they still get to walk around saying they won? This isn’t one player taking steroids. This is an entire team benefiting from knowing what pitch the pitcher is going to throw. Baseball players know, it’s much easier to hit a 100 MPH fastball when you know it’s coming.
People on the internet were furious when Aroldis Chapman was caught smiling after he gave up the series-winning homerun to Jose Altuve in 2019. That smile has a whole other meaning now doesn’t it? Doesn’t it seem like Chapman was smiling because he knew that Altuve knew what pitch was coming?
This is easily the biggest scandal in baseball history and possibly sports history. $5 million to an owner like Jim Crane is like $5 to you and me. He can reach in between his couch cushions and pull that money out. The draft picks are great, seeing as how the Astros were a team built solely through their farm system. But if MLB really wants to show them (and other teams) that this won’t be tolerated, they would have to strip the Houston Astros of their Championship.
100 years from now people may look back in the record books and see the Astros won the 2017 World Series and just think they were the best team in the league that year. But if they look in the record books and see “none” next to “2017 World Series Winner”, they’ll more than likely wonder why it says that and research to figure out why. It’ll be a story that never goes away and is never forgotten because, in all actuality, it shouldn’t ever be forgotten.
Featured photo: Rolling Stone
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