Everything you need to know about the Astros Scandal

https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2020/2/13/21136476/jim-crane-houston-astros-sign-stealing-apology

Drake Drymond, Head Editor

Over the last few days players from around the MLB have sounded off on the fallout from the Astros sign stealing scandal. Dodgers Pitcher Yu Darvish has called for the Astros to be stripped of their 2017 World Series title and he’s not alone. Several others have spoken out against the Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred, demanding harsher punishments for the players in particular. Atlanta Braves Outfielder Nick Markakis is quoted as saying “I feel like every guy over there needs a beating.” All of these takes are lunacy and here’s everything you need to know about what the Astros did, what they didn’t do, and whether or not the punishment fit the crime. 

First, what did the Astros not do? The Astros did not wear buzzers on the inside of their jerseys to signal pitches to each batter despite several conspiracy theories. Jose Altuve did not demand to keep his jersey on after hitting a walk-off home-run to send the Astros to the World Series because he was secretly hiding a wire. He did it to hide a bad unfinished tattoo. According to the official MLB report the Astros played the 2019 season clean.

So what are the Astros actually guilty of? First, they set up a camera in the center field stands to steal and decode pitching signs of the opposing team. They would then send the decoded signals to a laptop just outside the Astros dugout where employees would bang a trash can to signal to the hitter what pitch was coming. According to the MLB’s investigation of the scandal, this practice went on throughout the 2017 and 2018 MLB seasons. 

Now with all the facts of the case having been presented, one must ask the question: did the Astros get what they deserved? The correct answer: yes. The cheating scandal was an issue that stemmed from employees within the organization’s front office. Those involved were appropriately disciplined for their roles in the cheating. Manager A.J. Hinch who knew the cheating was going on, yet did nothing to stop it was suspended by the league for 1 year and subsequently fired by Owner Jim Crane. He has since been replaced by Dusty Baker, a veteran Manager who has had success all throughout his career and has stood alongside the players and the organization from day one. General Manager Jeff Luhnow ultimately faced the same fate as Hinch for his role in the sign stealing scandal. His successor comes in the form of James Click, the former Vice President of Baseball Operations with the Tampa Bay Rays. At 42 Click is one of the brightest young minds in the game and is a great fit to fill the shoes of arguably the best G.M. in all of baseball. 

Additionally, the Astros were fined 5 million dollars, and stripped of their 1st and 2nd round draft picks for the next 2 seasons. All-in-all the organization accepted its punishment, acknowledged that what it did was wrong and took steps to move past the scandal. Jim Crane didn’t have to fire Hinch and Luhnow. Both were among the best in baseball at what they did and would have easily been temporarily replaced while they sat out their suspension. Instead, the Astros have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from those with key ties to the scandal and present a new organization with a fresh start. 

Ever since the scandal came to light, the case has been made by sportscasters, players and fans alike that the Astros 2017 World Series title is illegitimate or that it should be taken away. But here’s the truth. In 2017, the Houston Astros won 101 games in the regular season, and handily beat the Red Sox 3-1 in the ALDS. In the ALCS they beat the Yankees 4 games to 3 to advance to the World Series. In those 4 losses the Yankees scored a combined 3 runs in addition to losing 1 of those games at home. In the World Series itself, the Dodgers lost 2 games at home including Game 7. With all that said, the Astros won the pennant and were in fact the best team in all of baseball in 2017. Did they cheat? Yes, but it had a relatively small impact on the games and did not occur in away games. The Astros won the title in 2017 and nobody can take that away. Teams of the past such as the Yankees of the early 2000’s won titles off the backs of several players who have been confirmed steroid users, nevertheless those titles remain untouched, to take away the Astros 2017 title for a lesser offense would be a massive overreaction. Additionally, the Astros were not alone in the sign stealing scandal. Former Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and Met’s manager Carlos Beltran have both been fired for their roles in stealing signs during their time in Houston in addition to Boston and New York respectively. Former players have come out calling the scandal a minor incident, or a practice that has been done before. However, it was the Astros who got caught and were ultimately made an example of.