Astros cheating scandal rough draft

A picture of the Astros’ MVP.

A picture of the Astros’ MVP.

Bennett Carollo, Sports Editor

On November 1st, 2017, the Houston Astros prevailed over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-1, in game 7 of the World Series. The baseball world was thrilled for the Astros, as they had gone through years of suffering to finally earn the franchise’s first title. Or so we thought. Over two years later, following the conclusion of the 2019 season that saw Houston fall in the World Series to the Nationals, former Astro Mike Fiers emerged with a bombshell. He alleged that the Astros had implemented a system in 2017 to steal opposing teams’ signs using a camera in center field and a monitor and trash can in the dugout tunnel. In the following weeks and months, YouTube videos showed incriminating evidence against the Astros and an official MLB investigation confirmed the cheating.

The aftermath of this scandal has had wide-reaching impacts. For starters, the MLB took multiple draft picks and millions of dollars from the Astros. Houston then decided to fire both their general manger, Jeff Luhnow, and manager, AJ Hinch, after the MLB announced that they would be suspended. The MLB report also cited current Boston Red Sox manager and then-Astros bench coach Alex Cora as a ringleader in the sign-stealing scheme. The Red Sox promptly fired Cora, only a season removed from the Red Sox’s 2018 championship season. It appears likely that some sort of cheating may have also been taking place with that Boston team. Cora’s punishment from the MLB is still coming and expected to be quite severe. Finally, the New York Mets made the decision to relieve just-hired manager Carlos Beltran of his duties due to complications and concerns with his involvement as a player on the 2017 Astros.

Even with all of the repercussions and shock waves that have been felt after the cheating news broke, there are still many questions left unanswered. For one, the extent and manner in which the Red Sox cheated remains a mystery. The opposing teams and players that were defeated by the Astros and Red Sox on their way to titles are also understandably displeased and left wondering what could have been. Chief among this group is the Dodgers, who were on the losing end of the 2017 and 2018 World Series. The 2017 Yankees, who pushed Houston to the game 7 of the ALCS in 2017, are also feeling wronged. There is also reason to be concerned that the Astros could have continued to cheat in different and still secret ways in the following seasons. One theory that has been getting a considerable amount of attention recently is that the Astros players may have worn buzzers under their jerseys that clued them in to what pitch was coming. Baseball fans have pointed out how Jose Altuve, after hitting the walk-off homer off the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman to send Houston to the 2019 World Series, urged his teammates to not rip his jersey off during the home plate celebration, as is usually the tradition. Then, Altuve, after emerging from the pile at the plate, hustled to the clubhouse to change out of his jersey as opposed to continuing the on-field celebration with his teammates. Could he have been hiding something under the jersey? We may never know. If the Astros did indeed cheat in 2019, this would be of particular interest to the local Tampa Bay Rays, who fell in a deciding ALDS game 5 to Houston. As a whole, maybe the most lasting impact of the scandal will be the damage it has dealt to the integrity of the game. Fans will now forever be skeptical about any game and season results. It will be similar to the infamous steroid era scandal in this way.

One final element of the Astros’ cheating that has left fans dissatisfied is the inadequate punishments that were dealt out. None of the retributions against the team will hamper them in the upcoming 2020 season, where they appear set to contend for another World Series title, but now as decided villains. Houston was also able to keep its 2017 title, which is shocking considering it has been confirmed that they cheated during this very season. The individual players on the team, including Altuve and Alex Bregman, have also been let off scot free despite the MLB report indicating that the players, not coaches or higher ups, were maintaining the sign-stealing operations. The refusal of these players to apologize or own up to their actions has only further angered people. It should be interesting and very entertaining to see how the Astros players are greeted at opposing ballparks in the upcoming 2020 spring training and season. I expect to hear deafening boos and to see fans taunting them with trash cans, at the very least.