From steroids to gambling, baseball has always been involved in scandals that take away from the purity of the sport.This is again what Major League Baseball is facing again in 2020.
News broke in 2019 that the Houston Astros had been illegally stealing pitcher’s signs, which indicate what kind of pitch is coming, during the 2017 MLB season, the same season that they won the World Series. This gave them a great advantage over the teams they played as they had a greater likelihood of making a better play if they could know what kind of pitch was coming.
This is far from the first time the MLB has had problems with teams stealing signs.
As long as they could, these teams were willing to do whatever they could to gain an advantage. And, when it leads to winning the World Series like it did for the Astros, then cheating almost seems like it would be worth it.
If the only way to actually gain success in the league is to break the rules, more teams are going to start doing it. One has to question if a league that requires you to cheat to get any success is a league that should be supported.
After the news broke about the Astros, many people are left wondering what is next for the MLB.
Rules are going to have to change. Stricter enforcement will need to be put into place to stop teams from illegally stealing signs. The Astros’ owner, Jim Crane, fired the team’s general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch following the news of their cheating. The two former Astros employees are also suspended from baseball for one season.
However, the question is where those enforcements will come from. It has been proven that the Commissioner of the MLB Rob Manfred knew of what the Astros were doing throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons and did nothing to stop it.
When the man who is supposed to be in charge of discipline for the entire league is actively knowledgeable of and practically condoning cheating within the league, it brings up a lot of questions on the state at which the MLB is operating.
Despite the fact that the history of cheating within baseball is long and this is certainly nothing new for the sport, fans are unsure if they can even trust the sport anymore.
After the initial reports of the Astros cheating came out, accusations against numerous other teams surfaced. This was bigger than the steroid scandal. Los Angeles Dodger pitcher, Alex Wood, said via his Twitter account “I would rather face a player that was takin steroids than face a player that knew every pitch was coming.” Nobody could be sure that the success of one team was gained organically or if more nefarious means had been employed.
While the MLB itself is not going to fold in the wake of this incident, the effects of it are sure to be felt across the league in the coming seasons.
Punishment has already been doled out to the Houston Astros. However, it calls into question if the fines and suspensions they faced will be enough to deter teams from cheating in the future.
The Houston Astros are not the only team to have been found cheating in recent years.
The Boston Red Sox were found to have broken league rules in 2004 and 2018, both years in which they won the World Series.
The punishment they received the first time did not stop them, so why would the punishment to the Astros be enough to serve as a suitable threat against cheating for the rest of the league?
Of course, the league is not seeing cheating happen and doing nothing about it, however with the methods they have chosen to employ, the teams have found ways to get around them easily.
The players on the Houston Astros won’t receive any direct punishment. They’ll keep their World Series win. They’ll keep their careers. And they’ll move on with their lives just fine.
Major League Baseball as it currently stands is a flawed institution.
From the highest of executives all the way down to the players and the fans, people are aware that cheating in baseball is a problem and that something needs to stop it so that something bigger than what the Astros did happens.
But, what has to change? Is cheating so ingrained in the fabric of the sport that there is no way it can operate without it?
It is no coincidence that when people found out about the Astros they were so quick to start accusing other teams. It’s because it is something that seems so plausible for every other successful team to have been doing.
The Houston Astros are currently being sued by former MLB pitcher Mike Bolsinger.
In 2017 he pitched his last game in the MLB against the Astros. He claims that their illegal sign stealing ended his career. He is asking for the Astros to pay the bonuses they gained from winning the World Series, around $37 million in total, to charities benefitting youth in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
The only outcome of the Astros and the Red Sox cheating was not their World Series championships. This was not a victimless act.
Because they decided to play the game unfaithfully everybody they came into contact those two years were impacted. There is no indication what might have gone differently in the MLB if they weren’t cheating, there is no indication what the future of the MLB might be because they cheated.
Many have called for their championship titles to be taken away because they were gained unfaithfully.
The entire establishment of professional baseball will not come crumbling to the ground thanks to the 2017 Houston Astros, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t still be feeling the effects of their actions for years to come.