A sport is commonly defined as an athletic activity that involves a degree of competition. As in every competition, everyone wants to have an advantage over their opponent. Some train more rigorously, others develop meticulous game plans; however, some decide to cheat in order to gain an advantage. Many try to hide it, but few are successful. There is a sense of respectability when playing a sport, a “may the best man win”mindset when it comes to respect. The Houston Astros are the latest team to void the set rules in order to gain an undeniable advantage over their respective opponents.
A high level of respect is instilled in many athletes very early in their athletic careers. For me, before every Little League baseball game, I was forced to recite a pledge that stressed the importance of playing fairly. So when I heard the news of the Houston Astros cheating scandal, I wasn’t surprised, but rather disappointed because I know there are some in that organization that recited the exact same pledge of honorability as I did. The league needs to come down hard on the organization if they want to keep any shred of respectability of the game that is America’s pastime.
The Astros organization has been subject to criticism before: hiring the reliever, Roberto Ozuna, who in 2018 was suspended for 75 games for “violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy” and later keeping their Assistant General Manager, Brandon Taubman, he after taunted female reporter about domestic violence. This shows the long history of the Houston Astros having little to no regard to the rules. And once again, the organization has found themselves in hot water. A recent article in The Athletic accuses the Houston Astros of systematically stealing opponent’s signs during the 2017 season. The piece highlights their tactics of using an electronic camera in the outfield to film the opponents pitching signs. They then would bang on a trash can to alert their batters on what pitch is coming.
Due to these recent revelations, the response from the MLB and the commissioner Rob Manfred was unsurprisingly stern. Manfred alluding to strict punishments for the organization. Analysts have been saying that the punishments can range from million dollar fines to loss of draft picks to even suspending them from signing international players.
The MLB has launched a thorough probe into the allegations of cheating. So thorough, in fact, that the investigation won’t just cover the 2017 season, but will encompass the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Manfred said, “We are going to investigate the Astros situation as thoroughly as humanly possible.”
With all the hype about the investigation from Manfred and the MLB over this cheating scandal, will they actually deliver harsh punishments? History of punishments for cheating have been meager, e.g., the steroid epidemic and pitchers using pine tar. However, this time I believe it will be different because this is not a scandal that can just be waited out, this scandal rocks the core of MLB and the rules they have set in place. The MLB must draw a line in the sand about cheating and essentially say that cheating will no longer be tolerated. In order to maintain their loyal, yet weary, fanbase and to repair the torn fabric of respectability that the MLB holds dear. Manfred and the MLB must show that the game is still played and won based off of skill, not the ability to steal the opponents signs.
For the sake of baseball, I implore the MLB to lay down a strict punishment on the Astros and to hold them accountable. A hefty fine and the confiscation of draft picks should be the minimum punishment handed down by the MLB. Rob Manfred must find a way to curb the chronic scandals of cheating that occur on a season-by-season basis. The one way to stop it is to show the 29 other organizations that they will not tolerate anymore cheating.