It is something that will forever be the bane of the Dodgers’ 2017 World Series run. The Houston Astros cheated in their endeavor to win the World Series, which of course proved successful for them. Today, Commissioner Rob Manfred handed down punishment to the organization.
Both Manager AJ Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one year each. The Astros also will be made to forfeit their 2020 and 2021 first and second round draft picks, of which they have two each, and the team will also be fined $5 million, the maximum fine allowed by baseball’s bylaws.
No players were punished, as Manfred said he decided after the Apple Watch incident on September 15 that he was going to hold the management and clubs accountable, and that he was going to stick with that precedent.
The nitty gritty of the cheating was brought about by then current player Carlos Beltran, who brought the idea to Alex Cora and others how they could use the technology to their advantage. They would use the live feed footage of the game, and Cora would call the replay room to get the sign sequence. That was then relayed to the dugout by Apple Watch or cell phone. A signal was then relayed to the batter in real time, like with the banging of the trash can when an off-speed pitch was coming.
From Manfred’s report:
A total of 68 interviews were conducted, including 23 with current or former Astros players.
For his part, Hinch testified that he did not feel it was appropriate use of the technology and said he even went as far as to smash one or two video monitors used in the scheme. But, ultimately, he still allowed it to happen under his watch and did not do enough to stop it from happening.
In a press conference with the Astros’ owner and chairman Jim Crane, it was also announced that both Hinch and Luhnow were both dismissed by the team. As of this writing, the punishment for current Boston Red Sox manager has yet to be announced.
There’s just so much that the 2017 World Series impacted, that this punishment seems too light to me. Each player received a $438,901.57 bonus for winning. Why should cheaters still receive that money? That was the only World Series win that Houston has, and it’s now forever tainted. The Astros took both the Yankees and the Dodgers to seven games, and Yankees fans can feel just as cheated as the Dodgers. The Astros performances in those games also bought them better contracts and could’ve lessened some for players of the other teams.
But closest to us fans, that was the best Dodger team we had seen in years. It felt like it was their year from the very beginning. I know a lot of people will say that they should have performed better in Game 2, Game 3, whatever game they feel promotes that case. And no doubt the 2017 Astros team was incredibly talented. But you need to look no further than Game 5 to know that’s when the cheating really manifested itself. Kershaw, after having been lights out in Game 1, suddenly can’t pitch? Does Gurriel get that three run homer if he doesn’t know what pitch is coming? Do they get to the point where they can have the winning run come to the plate? The Dodgers scored 12 runs that game. 12! They win that game, and they aren’t losing two more games at home, and win the Championship.
Dodger fans will never feel that these punishments are enough to assuage the heartbreak of what might have been. We can go round and round until our faces turn blue with what might’ve been and did it matter and whatever else applies. But the fact of the matter is that the integrity of the game, and that whole postseason, will forever be marred for everyone involved. As baseball is trying not to lose fans, that is the saddest fact of all.