The scandal that changed baseball


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Brendan Murphy, Staff Writer

The long-awaited results of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) investigation into the Houston Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal have finally arrived. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred brought the hammer down on the 2017 World Series Champions and has set a precedent for what MLB’s stance is on using electronic means to steal signs and cheat during games. Major League Baseball conducted a thorough investigation that found that the Astros did in fact use electronic means to steal signs.

During the 2017 season, the Astros had a camera set up in center field of Minute Maid Park. They watched the feed from the camera in the replay room and communicated the signs to the batter. They did this signaling using a bat and a garbage can. If the pitch was any off-speed pitch, they banged the garbage can with a bat. If it was a fastball, they would do nothing.

The full ten-page report released on Jan. 13 lays out everything that went on during the 2017 season. YouTube creator Jomboy Media created a video that explains exactly how the cheating took place detailing how it worked and what the Astros did to relay the signs to the batter.

Astros Manager AJ Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow have each been suspended for one year, the team will forfeit its first and second round draft picks each of the next two seasons and the team has been fined $5 million. However, not a single player was fined or suspended.

The punishment that could be the most devastating blow to the Astros is the loss of their first and second round draft picks each of the next two seasons. The Astros have been built on drafting and developing players through their own system, so it will be interesting to see how this punishment affects the team in the long run.

As if things couldn’t get worse for Hinch and Luhnow, Astros owner Jim Crane decided to fire both of them just hours after the report was released.

“I have higher standards for the city and the franchise, and I am going above and beyond MLB’s penalties,” said Crane in a press conference on Monday. “Today, I have made the decision to dismiss AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow. We need to move forward with a clean slate… and will not have this happen again on my watch.” Crane said in a press conference on Monday.

Former Astros player and current New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran is the only player named in the report and was said to be part of a group of players that, “…discussed that the team could improve on decoding the opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter.” Astros bench coach Alex Cora was also named in the report and is said to have started the whole thing by calling the replay room early in the season to get the signs.

Cora left the Astros following the 2017 season to become the manager of the Boston Red Sox, who are now being investigated by Major League Baseball for offenses similar to what the Astros committed. There was one major similarity between the two scandals; Alex Cora. His Red Sox went on to win the 2018 World Series.

MLB hasn’t suspended Cora yet. In all likelihood, Cora will be suspended after Major League Baseball completes its investigation into the Red Sox’s 2018 alleged cheating scandal. The Red Sox, however, decided to take matters into their own hands and part ways with Cora two days after the report was released.

As for Carlos Beltran, he and the Mets mutually agreed it was best to part ways as well.

“Considering the circumstances, it became clear to all parties that is was not in anyone’s best interest for Carlos to move forward as manager of the New York Mets,” the team said in a statement.

Beltran, who was an adviser for the New York Yankees in 2018 and 2019, was named by Alex Cora after the Yankees and Red Sox concluded their series in London back in June after Cora believed that the Yankees were cheating. MLB decided not to investigate the Yankees after the soundbite from that post-game interview resurfaced.

This entire scandal has given baseball some very poor publicity and the league hopes to put it behind them once the results of the Red Sox investigation are released.

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