The Houston Astros pulled off the greatest sports cheating scandal of all time. If you forgot, the Astros placed a monitor in the center-field to read the opposing catcher’s signs. Hitters were notified when an off-speed pitch was coming by a loud bang from a trash can.
The story broke when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers told ‘The Athletic’ the whole ordeal. He said, “They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win.” Now, in my opinion, this is the most ultimate cheating scandal in all of the sports. Banging those trash cans was worse than Tonya Harding’s ex-husband banging Nancy Kerrigan’s knee.
T here are many factors on why this is the biggest cheating scandal. Let’s look at the team’s success. In 2017, they won the World Series. Not only did they win the World Series but during the ALCS against the New York Yankees, but they were undefeated at home.
In 2018, they lost to the Boston Red Sox. This loss is significant for two reasons: 1) the 2018 Red Sox are under investigation for using their video replay room to steal signs. Two, the Red Sox’s manager Alex Cora was a bench coach for the Astros in 2017.
He had a key role in setting up the cameras in center field. Cora called the Astros’ replay review room through there dugout phone to acquire significant information. The report states, “Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros dugout. (The center field camera was primarily used for player development purpose and was allowed under MLB rules at the time when used for that purpose.)
Witnesses have provided largely consistent accounts of how the monitor was utilized”. In 2019 the Astros made it to the World Series yet again but lost to the Washington Nationals. Therefore, in the past three years, they won the World Series, lost in the ALCS to a team that may have used the same sign-stealing tactic against them, then made the World Series again, only losing.
My Yankees suffered tremendously from the Astros cheating. After 2017, Jose Altuve won the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Aaron Judge came in second place but he could have been the third player in MLB history to win rookie of the year and MVP in the same season.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was also fired after that season. There were reports of him getting let go regardless of the Yankees making it to the World Series, but he could’ve stayed on had they not been thwarted by the cheaters. In the 2019 ALCS, the Astros beat the Yankees off a walk-off home run from……. an off-speed pitch. I firmly believe the Astros knew what pitch was coming.
The discipline handed down by Major League Baseball today wasn’t harsh enough for me. As punishment for their crimes, the Astros were fined $ 5 million dollars, lost their first and second-round draft picks for 2020 and 2021, and both general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for a year. Less than an hour after the news broke that the owner of the Houston Astros Jim Crane fired Luhnow and Hinch.
Commissioner Rob Manfred should have taken it a step forward and suspended the batters for at least half the season too. I think the reason why he didn’t (and couldn’t) is that Astros are a popular team that are very TV-friendly.
The ratings for baseball are atrocious, and the league needs their best players and teams to at full strength to attract viewers. Somehow Carlos Beltran also avoided discipline despite being one of the masterminds behind the scheme. Hopefully reports that he is getting punished as he assumes the manager role for New York Mets are true.
The Astros will not be respected by any other team in baseball. The only way they can bounce back is if they win a title and even then we’ll always be suspicious of them. The Houston Astros make the New England Patriots look like a D3 Catholic school team that never broke the rules.
On October 17, 2019 Astros manager AJ Hinch was asked about sign stealing and said, “Man, I’m glad you asked that question, and I thought it would come up today. We talked about this the other day, and in reality, it’s a joke, but Major League Baseball does a lot to ensure the fairness of the game,” said Hinch.
“There’s people everywhere if you go through the dugouts and the clubhouses and the hallways, there’s like so many people around that are doing this. Then when I get contacted about some questions about whistling, it made me laugh because it’s ridiculous. Had I known that it would take something like that to set off the Yankees or any other team, we would have practiced it in spring training, because apparently, it works even when it doesn’t happen.” This guy is a dick. The Astros always played with an arrogance that made it seem like they wrote the rules of baseball. That arrogance clearly stemmed from the top down.