Writers and Fans Respond to Punishment of Houston Astros Following Cheating Scandal

“Cheating is wrong.” This is a simple fact of life that many have heard since we were young. Someone should have told the Houston Astros this during the 2017 season

Just before 2 pm on January 13, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal broke news of the Astros’ punishments on Twitter. They included one-year bans to General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Head Coach A.J. Hinch as well as a loss of high draft picks and a five million dollar fine, the maximum allowed under the MLB constitution. 

Shortly after, the offices of Major League Baseball released a statement detailing the punishments to the organization.

The investigation, which started three weeks after the Washington Nationals defeated the Astros in the 2019 World Series, covered three years of cheating within the organization. Special attention was paid to their title year, when the  2017 World Series champions were recorded using a trashcan and then later a whistle to indicate the signs of their opposition during games. 

Both commentators and fans of professional sports soon took to social media to celebrate the penalties given to the Astros. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport was quick to criticize the methods of the Astros’ cheating. 

Following the initial announcement of their hefty punishment, Astros owner Jim Crane announced that Luhnow and Hinch were fired. In the hours after their dismissal, both men released statements. 

After the statement, fans of the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers were eager to flock to Twitter to announce their joy with the Astros’ punishment. Both teams were eliminated by Houston during the 2017 playoffs

The frustration felt by the Dodgers was even more pronounced due to the fact they were defeated in the World Series in back to back years by both teams accused of cheating. 

As for the other team defeated by the Astros that postseason, then Yankees manager Joe Girardi made comments on the Astros who effectively ended his tenure with the Yankees. 

While the Astros are currently the only team that has been punished for cheating, the reports heavily implicate current Red Sox head coach and former Astros assistant coach Alex Cora

The Red Sox, who had several accusations of misconduct themselves, decided to fire their Head Coach before he was dealth any punishment from the league. 

Despite Hench’s knowledge and participation in the sign stealing, he does possess some moral high ground when it comes to his former assistant, Cora. The MLB report detailed multiple events when Cora attempted to use technology and was ultimately stopped by Hench. 

The broad media reaction was primarily to summarize the events and congratulate the players who assisted in the investigation like former Astros pitcher, Mike Fiers.  

MLB writer Eric Hubbs was among the many who were critical of the fact that no player received any punishment for their own involvements. Essentially, this is the league stating that the players, who are used for marketing and add overall entertainment to the game, are getting off without the slightest slap on the wrist for deliberately breaking the rules. This includes short term New York Mets head coach Carlos Beltran, who was an Astro during the 2017 season and mutual parted with the Mets following this incident. 

Greg Price of the Daily Caller made note of perhaps the most infamous suspension in the sport’s storied history. That being of the league’s all-time hit leader Pete Rose, who was banned for life following gambling charges in August of 1989. Rose, who is often the face of baseball scandals and this incident, like many before it, is riling up comparisons between the misdeeds. 

The court of public opinion was given a chance to weigh in on the two incidents and overwhelmingly voted that the Astros cheating was worse than Rose’s gambling. 

The reaction of the media to this incident is largely one of agreement, which is rare for the current landscape of sports media which has been molded to rely on personalities like Stephen A. Smith or Skip Bayless to react to news and events rather than simply accept things at face value. This lack of any polarization, beyond those who feel the punishments should have been more severe or that the players should face some penalty for their involvement, speaks volumes for just how grievous the Astros’ actions were. 

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