The Astros cheating scandal has been ruled upon by MLB, and now a new pall has been cast on the sport. What’s getting missed in the off-season tornado of histrionics?
Here are a few quick observations from this game writer‘s perspective.
- Everyone’s focusing on how the Astros pioneered this particular crime. Getting lost in the noise: the Yankees got dinged for it first. When? Rob Manfred said, “[D]uring an earlier championship season (prior to 2017) the Yankees had violated a rule governing the use of the dugout phone.”
- The Astros’ cheating did NOT spread to the Red Sox with coach Joey Cora. At the same time MLB fined the Yanks for their cheating, they levied a larger penalty on the Red Sox for their Apple Watch cheating scheme in… pay attention now… 2017. So the Red Sox cheating was happening while Cora was still coaching with the competition in Texas. If you’re going to point fingers at the source of the cancer, I think you’re going to have to look northeast, not southwest.
- The timeframe and logistics on the scandal are puzzling, and they all make MLB look slow, old, and infirm. If the cheating was so obvious and widespread in 2017 why was nothing done in 2018 or 2019? Where is the Mitchell Report for this scandal? Why isn’t MLB monitoring bullpen phones? And why oh why wasn’t MLB encrypting the living hell out of the centerfield camera video feed?
- Are you telling me that no MLB employee ever walked through the clubhouse hallway and noticed an Astros employee banging on a freaking trash can? The fact that this could even be considered a legitimate scheme shows the lack of oversight and awareness of the MLB organization. When there’s an aura of apathy from the ruling authority, and two of the most successful teams in the sport are known cheats, you have an environment ripe for malfeasance.
- This all sounds like weak apologetics, I understand. I am an Astros fan, although not a proud one any more. But let’s be serious: if we care about baseball, we have to confront the fact that the disease is clearly more widespread than one team. It’s in MLB’s best interest to make it seem like all is well, when in fact they need to take action about this vulnerability in the game as soon as possible. (I also think that when a championship can be won or lost on a single pitch, MLB needs to wake up, trash the inconsistent cork and yarn juiced ball manufacturing system that they bought in 2018, and switch to a consistent leather-clad high-tech ball like the PGA did in the mid ’60s, but that’s another topic.) We should be looking to MLB and all teams for the reasons why this epidemic has been allowed to spread, both institutionally and ethically. Sure, the stakes are high and everyone is dying to win the ultimate prize. Sure, the Astros failed to consider consequences, asterisks, and a black mark that could ostracize some players from HOF consideration. But did anyone bother to think about sportsmanship, the fans, and the future of the sport? Within these organizations, this cheating was known to most if not all. MLB has to take a good hard look at owners, GMs, managers, and most of all their own internal oversight processes and leadership, to determine how this kind of widespread and obvious subversion of the rules and averred principles of the game can occur.