The entire baseball world was left shocked last November when whistleblower Mike Fiers came forward exposing the Houston Astros for cheating.
Houston had been using video cameras to steal signs from opposing pitchers, giving their hitters a superior advantage as they were able to anticipate what pitches were coming.
The act of stealing signs has always been a part of the game.
However, the Astros took it one step further by using cameras to steal signs that they then relayed through banging on trash cans and buzzers alerting players what pitch they should expect.
There was the Black Sox scandal, Pete Rose’s betting scandal and the performance-enhancing drug era of the 1990’s.
However, what the Astros have done is above and beyond. The timeline suggests that this wasn’t a one-time thing like many of the aforementioned events.
Houston had done it across multiple seasons, most notably their World Series title winning season in 2017.
The act is truly despicable, but repercussions have been negligible.
The Astros have been set back due to losing their first-and-second round draft pick for the next two years, as well as a $5 million fine.
Their manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were both suspended for a year.
However, this means nothing. Yes, the Astros future has been stifled, but they are still credited with winning the World Series and individual awards.
Jose Altuve was the elected American League MVP in 2017, beating out then rookie Aaron Judge’s electrifying campaign. A decision many felt at the time was already a snub.
Judge hit for a .284 batting average with 52 home runs leading the American League, 114 RBIs second most in the AL, and was walked 127 times en route to rookie of the year honors.
Altuve’s season was no joke either batting for an impressive .346 batting average, leading the AL in hits with 204, while driving in 81 runs.
The difference though was he and the Astros lit up pitcher’s yearlong with their illegal edge.
Negative reactions towards the Astros, aren’t just held by fans like myself. Players have become vocal as they deservedly should.
With spring training just beginning, the media was able to get comments from players who didn’t hold back.
The Angels who played the Astros 19 times and lost 12 of those contests saw their pitchers unleash criticism.
“I hope they feel like shit,” said Angels’ starting pitcher Andrew Heaney.
Heaney held the Astros to a .216 average while at home where video cameras didn’t come into play, but on the road the Astros pieced Heaney up hitting for a .286 average.
The integrity of the sport has been wronged and many pitchers have felt victimized by the mockery they faced following matchups against the Astros.
For example, Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish had a respectable campaign in 2017 going 4-3 for the Dodgers following his trade.
In the playoffs he was 2-0, and had only given up two runs across 11.1 innings pitched heading into the World Series.
The Astros however dominated him in his two starts where he gave up a 21.60 ERA over 3.1 innings. In Game 7 he gave up five runs and failed to get out of the second inning.
Darvish became one of the most hated men in Los Angeles. Anyone who watched the series blamed Darvish myself included.
His reputation as an elite starter was tarnished at the hands of the Astros. Darvish wasn’t the only one wronged though.
His team failed to win the pennant, something that has become a common theme for the Dodgers. The LA City Council felt this way when they voted to ask the MLB to strip the Astros title from 2017.
The Dodgers were wronged again in 2018 by then Red Sox’s manager Alex Cora who continued using the trick that he helped establish back in Houston.
Since Fiers came out and revealed the information there has been a dark cloud surrounding the integrity of the MLB.
Three managers have beenfired for their involvement including Hinch and Cora.
Former players like Mike Bolsinger have struck up lawsuits, blaming the Astros for ruining their careers.
While all this has unfolded Astros players have avoided citing their involvement. Many players have said they gained no edge or distanced themselves from the scandal all together.
No apologies have surfaced from Astros pitchers who should understand the severity of their teams cheating.
This should come as no surprise though when you hear what their owner Jim Crane had to say at spring training.
“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” Crane said.
The entire thing is simply a joke.
The players and organization should be held responsible for making a proper statement and apology. The league should be held accountable for properly punishing the Astros, deeming the 2017 season null and void.
Instead, nothing has changed, players have squeaked by clean.
“They’re kind of playing the victim, and it is bullshit,” said Angels’ pitcher Noe Ramirez.
He really hit the nail on the head. Players can’t seriously accept anything the Astros say as an apology, and neither will fans of the game.
We will always remember them as the team that tarnished their reputation and challenged the integrity of America’s pastime.
Just ask Patriots fans — it is miserable being labeled a cheat.