This is the fourth month that the Houston Astros baseball team has been in the hot seat for their sign-stealing scandal, which involves actions taken during their 2017 World Series Championship season. It’s a scandalous story we have heard of before in one way or another — players snooping on second base or hand signals and videotapes in the dugout to try and pull one over on the other team— but this case can be described most accurately in one word: over-the-top.
This sign-stealing scandal, which I officially dub “Trash-gate,” was first brought to light by The Atlantic in November with an exclusive interview with Mike Fiers, pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and NSU alum who pitched for the Astros during their championship season. Simply put, this scandal involved a live-camera feed in the dugout that the Astros used to signal to the batter what pitch was coming. The sign-stealing in this case was accomplished notably by banging bats in the dugout against a trash can in a form of morse code.
If you’re thinking that is awfully complicated just to get a little leg up, then you are absolutely right. It is said that baseball is a mental game, a game of inches. But when the Astros took this inch, they really just pushed themselves back to the start. Fans have lost trust in the organization and players from other teams and former Astros are outraged.Even legendary athletes from other sports, like LeBron James, are speaking out about this scandal. The fact is that no one has specifically been blamed, no one has been punished and justice has not been served.
Overall, the response from the club has been apologies and promises, all with their own side-controversies and misgivings. The one thing that has come under fire in this whole scandal — other than just the scandal and the consequences that should come with it — is the status of the championship and the questions of the Astros surrender. After all, Major League Baseball confirmed in January that this transgression occurred during the 2017 regular and postseason games. Shouldn’t that automatically mean that they forfeit their right to call themselves champions? In this case, it’s a slippery slope because, if the Astros relinquish their win, it opens the doors for all past scandals and transgressions to be reviewed and that is a mess I don’t think anyone wants.
I’m not claiming that I have all the answers or that I even know what the right next move for the Astros is, but it is clear that they need to do something and fast before they lose their legacy along with their dignity.
Start a campaign to keep children from cheating on tests, put glass panels in the dugout, have the 2017 roster sit out a few games. Think of it this way: it can’t get much worse. We heard all the time as children, “cheaters never win and winners never cheat”. Maybe the Astros got away with cheating, but let’s make sure they don’t get off scot free.
Photo: J. Morales