Houston, We’ve Got a Problem

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Published January 22, 2020
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The Montclarion
Alexis Kitchmire | The Montclarion

Earlier this month, Major League Baseball punished the Houston Astros for stealing opponents’ pitch signs during their 2017 championship season. The lengthy investigation concluded with a $5 million fine, a loss of first and second round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and one year suspensions for Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.

The only thing they forgot was confiscating the Houston Astros of their World Series title.

In 1919, eight players on the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the World Series for money. What is now known as the “Black Sox Scandal” ended with all eight alleged culprits being permanently banned from baseball despite being found not guilty of all counts in court.

Granted, there were various cover ups, including a suspicious vanishing of crucial evidence within the case that led to the acquittal.

Regardless, none of the eight players, including “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who supposedly backed out of the fix, could ever play baseball again.

One hundred years later, in what one would think would be a more enlightened game, the Astros are given a slap on the wrist for cheating to win the World Series, a crime I believe to be far more heinous than losing on purpose.

All of the players involved in the cheating scandal were granted immunity by the MLB for their cooperation in the investigation. None of them will be punished. Key players like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and George Springer will continue their careers full of success and praise, all ending their time in baseball with no permanent blemish on their career timeline.

Meanwhile, players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are mentioned in lockstep with their use of steroids and year after year fall shy of election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rightly so, but all cheaters should be treated equally.

Even Pete Rose, baseball’s all time hit leader, arguably the greatest hitter in baseball history, was permanently banned from baseball after betting on games as a manager, a crime entirely separate from his career as a player.

Additionally, he never once put his money against his team, only betting on them to win. He will never be admitted into Cooperstown, and will only be remembered for that unfair absence.

Many people are attempting to undercut the severity of the Astros’ crimes by claiming their players still had to hit the ball themselves, and simply knowing what pitch was coming is not much of an edge.

When the ball is firing towards you upwards of 90 miles per hour, detecting the ball’s rotation and the pitcher’s arm slot is the majority of the battle.

Every batter in the MLB is a good hitter. They would not be at the highest playing level in the world if they weren’t. It’s players who are able to make those quick judgments correctly and react accordingly who separate themselves from averageness.

In a time where different tactics are constantly being developed to speed up the game and create more offense to raise dwindling viewership, this is a disaster for the sport of baseball, and the MLB should treat it as such.

 

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