More Thoughts on the Astros Cheating Scandal

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As time goes on, more facts come to light about the Houston Astros and their alleged advanced sign-stealing in the 2017 regular season, postseason, and beyond—something many fans of the Dodgers have been keeping a close eye on.

When the news first broke, it was vague how the Astros accomplished this feat. Many teams had accused them of sign stealing, but were quite sure how it was being done. Some players complained of whistles, or banging sounds during the Astros’ at bats.

Now, there has been some evidence come to light, or at the very least, strong assumptions made as to how Houston achieved this. Some say the Astros had a live-feed of the game, zoomed in on the catcher’s fingers flashing signs, and then relayed that to the batter by either a bullpen catcher making signals in the outfield bullpen; some had that same scenario but with the sign being flashed to someone in the dugout, who would then make a sound like banging or whistling to signal what the pitch was going to be.

Some video watching has also lead some to believe that there was a person inside the dugout watching the live feed, and then passing those signals on, again by banging on something like a trash can.

In the last two days, there has even been some speculation as to whether there was ear pieces and buzzers on players’ batting gloves in use for this scheme. This seems like it would be something that would be too blatant and easier for MLB to catch, but I suppose nothing is beyond the realm of possibility at this point.

Again, take this for what you will. This is a Yankees fan that has an understandable grievance with the Astros. Houston beat the Yankees in seven games in the 2017 ALCS before going on to beat the Dodgers in seven in the World Series.

But this twitter account has done a lot of homework, even going back and watching Houston’s own 2017 World Series DVD and found the evidence in the linked tweet above.

Astros fans dismiss all of these allegations as false, accuse the players who first reported them as just disgruntled ex-players, and wield the common “everyone does it” trope.

It may be true that all MLB teams try to gain an edge by the traditional form of sign stealing, like a runner on second tipping pitches. That is just gamesmanship. These allegations, if true, go above and beyond what true gamesmanship should include.

Not too many Major League players have spoken out about this, besides the players that originally brought these issues to light.

Kenley Jansen is one that has recently commented, however.

“Teams try everything. I said it a long time ago: it’s time for Major League Baseball to control that part and put a blurry sign where fans are not going to see (catcher’s fingers). If you find out that some teams cheated, they have to pay a big fine or someone is going to be banned forever or they lose their job and can’t be in this game.”

“If anybody is going to watch the game on TV, no fan is going to worry about what sign is being put down. Blur that, nobody is going to see it and we’re not talking about this anymore.”

Kenley, like Clayton Kershaw, has reason to complain that his legacy is forever altered because of this. In four appearances in Los Angeles during the World Series, Jansen threw six innings, allowing one earned run, three hits, and one walk while striking out six. In two appearances in Houston, he pitched two innings, allowed two earned runs including a home run and a walk-off single. While Kenley has not always been perfect, the what-if will always linger.

The silence that seems most notable to me is that of the people in the Houston organization itself. I’m sure that they’ve all been instructed by lawyers not to speak, but as with current politics, if you were truly innocent, you’d want to get that info out into the public as soon as possible.

A week ago I was dubious that any real retribution would be levied against the Astros. But MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had some thoughts on that front. While at the Winter Meetings, Manfred said that he didn’t think that the investigation would extend beyond the Astros to other teams, and that action taken would be some of the toughest seen.

Today, in his closing remarks to the owners, Manfred said “Our clubs, all 30 of them, recognize that the integrity of the competition on the field is crucial to what we do every day. And I think that there’s wide support across the industry for the idea that when we have a problem in this area, there should be firm, serious disciplinary action that discourages people from engaging in this type of behavior.”

He went on to expand his thoughts saying that they would be not only investigating the 2017 season, but the last two seasons as well.

“All I can tell you about that is we are going to investigate the Astros situation as thoroughly as humanly possible,” Manfred said.

“That investigation is going to encompass not only what we know about ’17, but also ’18 and ’19. We are talking to people all over the industry: Employees, competitors. To the extent that we find other leads, we’ll follow these leads.”

It will be quite interesting to watch, and to see how far reaching the punishments go, as Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora, thought to be the masterminds behind the whole scheme, are currently both managers of other Major League teams.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, it won’t ever be enough for Dodger fans. It won’t give Andre Ethier a ring, it won’t help in boosting Kershaw’s postseason numbers and legacy. It won’t help Yankee fans who thought they also had a great crack at the World Series in 2017, or any number of games in between. And that “what if” is even worse than the normal what might have been, and is probably the greatest travesty of it all. It’s one thing to lose. It’s a whole other thing to know that you might not have had to.

9 thoughts on “More Thoughts on the Astros Cheating Scandal

  1. Here’s another wrinkle, you could see some legal action taken against the Astros as well as MLB by casinos, on-line betting companies, bettors, etc. for losses they will claim that the cheating has caused them. Watch for it, Manfred has quite a situation to contend with. How does Manfred punish the Astros for cheating without punishing other teams that may have some of those 2017 Astros employed by them and how does Manfred not open up the league to possible criminal and/or civil charges and monetary rewards from litigants?

    No matter how Manfred moves, this thing isn’t going to simply go away, The word for today is PAIN

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    1. I hadn’t considered casinos and don’t know how they fit into this. Let’s face it, they make bank no matter the outcome, but the bettors are no doubt pissed.

      Point made. Looks like it’s getting more difficult to sweep this under the rug.

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  2. I’m no lawyer, but somehow I don’t think casinos and bettors will get anywhere if they sue. That doesn’t mean they won’t try though and it could take a while to get through the courts. Just as that comes to whatever conclusion it comes to, the collective bargaining agreement will be up (Dec. 2021). Manfred should demand a raise because by the time all of that is over, he’ll be so beaten up he won’t know what hit him. I think I’m going to start a “Go Fund Me” page for him. I know all of you will contribute and try not to pay attention to the fact that it’s all going directly into my bank account.

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    1. Not all lawsuits have to be won in order to be very destructive. The bettors and fantasy league players are going to be up in arms. Manfred has a very fine line to walk, how do you punish and show the fans that you are serious with a very punitive punishment without opening the league up to some lawsuits. With all that said, Manfred has to come down very heavy on the Asstros, both monetarily on the ownership, but heavy monetary and suspensions on players involved (all players involved too, not just a few token whipping boys). Since Hench had to up to his armpits in this, he quite possibly needs to be banned from baseball (if Mr. Hustle is banned for life for what he did then the whole coaching staff for Asstros must go as well), along with a number of his coaches. Make it burn, Manfred!

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  3. IF (and that’s a big if) this was only the Astros, Manfred will come down with a sledge hammer. After all, he has fans of the 29 other teams really pissed off at them. If this, or something similar, was also done by other teams, he’ll have a much bigger problem. How broadly can you punish without bringing the game to a grinding halt.
    He also has the problem of how wide spread the cheating was among the Astros. Did everyone know about it? Did all players take advantage of the information? Did the owner know? Did the GM know? The Braves had a GM banned for life when they cheated. Luhnow should possibly start packing his bags. Hinch could be in major trouble also. Not to mention Cora and Beltran who are supposedly heavily implicated.

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  4. Thanks for the article Andy, the league is trying so hard to grow its fan base, especially with younger viewers, that’s why the league is making such a big deal about length of games. So how can they let blatant cheating go on, without hurting the integrity of the game, which is going to hurt viewership. MLB has to come down on the Astros like a ton of bricks
    I think this scandal is worse than the PED problem, this is more like game fixing, a la 1919 black Sox.
    This may not be exactly “ eight men out” but it is closer to that than anything that has happened in baseball since 1919.
    If MLB doesn’t handle this properly it could have huge repercussions on the game we all love.

    Liked by 1 person

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