Andrew Dawson, Contributing Writer |
In 2017, The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to become World Series Champions. This was the Astros’ first World Series win in 55 years. However, all the celebrations quickly turned gray after they had been accused of cheating throughout the season.
The Astros were destined for greatness. The team has some of the best players the MLB has to offer. They have talent on both sides of the ball, led by the 2017 MVP Jose Altuve and future Hall of Fame pitcher Justin Verlander. The Astros were going to be the face of the league, however, they are now in the headlines for cheating.
The story was first reported in November 2019 by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic. Mike Fiers, a member of the 2017 World Series Champions team, told reporters the Astros used a camera in centerfield to steal the opposing teams’ signs. The camera relayed the live broadcast to a television under the Astros’ dugout, which allowed the Astros coaches and players to learn other teams’ signs. The players communicated the pitches to the batter by banging on trash cans.
I know what you’re thinking- did the Houston Astros really cheat their way into winning the World Series by banging on trash cans? The answer is yes. They used complex beats between pitches to tell the batter what pitch is coming next. This had a major impact not only on the regular season, in which they won 101 games, but also helped them tremendously in the playoffs. This systematic way of cheating helped them breeze by teams like the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs. According to the Astros owner Jim Crane, however, cheating had no impact on the season. If you believe him, look at their stats against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. The Astros won two nail-biting wins against the Yankees in Houston where they won 2-1. When they played each other in New York it was a different story. The Yankees won all three games and outscored them 19-5. When they went back to Houston, the Astros won the next two games and became the American League Champions.
After thorough investigation, the league began to go public with the situation. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred granted the Astros players immunity to discuss what transpired. While none of the players received punishments from the league, their team’s organizations did. Manfred suspended the Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and their head coach AJ Hinch for one year. The MLB also fined the Houston Astros the maximum amount of $5 million and took away their first and second round picks for 2020 and 2021. Crane decided to fire Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch for their part in the sign stealing scandal. The punishments didn’t stop there. The 2017 Astros bench coach, Alex Cora, who was the head coach of the Boston Red Sox in 2018 and 2019, was also suspended by the MLB. Along with Cora, the Mets new head coach Carlos Beltran was suspended. Beltran was suspended for one year and was fired before he coached his first Major League game. Cora, on the other hand, is considered the mastermind behind the whole plan. Cora and the Red Sox mutually decided to part ways. Cora brought over this cheating system to the Red Sox in 2018, and along with it, a World Series win.
The baseball community agrees the sign stealing scandal ruined the integrity of baseball. While everyone besides the Astros organization agrees it hurts baseball’s image, Jim Crane had other thoughts. “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series. We’ll leave it at that,” Crane said during a press conference held for the Astros organization to apologize. Players around the league are upset by the news surrounding the Astros. Mike Trout stated, “I lost some respect for some guys.” Aaron Judge had a similar approach while talking to the media: “I just don’t think it holds any value with me. You cheated and you didn’t earn it.” The MLB has handed out their final punishments to the Astros, but they will continue to be shamed and ridiculed throughout the next season.