“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.
BREAKING: Per sources, MLB’s penalties for #Astros include:
*One-year suspensions for GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch.
*Losses of 1st and 2nd round draft picks in both 2020 and ‘21.
*A fine of $5M.
Full story and more context with @EvanDrellich: https://t.co/djvKEYFiC7
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2020
Shortly after, the offices of Major League Baseball released a statement detailing the punishments to the organization.
Statement regarding the Astros. https://t.co/xvuj6zOK9x
— MLB (@MLB) January 13, 2020
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.
#Sticktofootball I know, but here is my takeaway on this Astros cheating scandal: All the technology in the world available and the key part of this sign-stealing scheme was literally banging on a trash can. https://t.co/4unpFtIDyO
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 13, 2020
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.
Statement from Luhnow pic.twitter.com/RO8m8Rd7Pw
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2020
Here is a statement from A.J. Hinch: pic.twitter.com/29GmAmE9XY
— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) January 13, 2020
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.
Which means the championship itself – they went seven games with the Yankees and Dodgers – is forever tainted. Sad day for the sport. https://t.co/zz6LpdIuaj
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) January 13, 2020
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.
The Dodgers had to watch the 2017 Astros and the 2018 Red Sox celebrate World Series titles at Dodger Stadium. Think about that.
— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) January 13, 2020
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.
#Phillies manager Joe Girardi lost his job after the Yankees lost to the Astros in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS. At the winter meetings last month, he was asked for his reaction to the allegations against the Astros: pic.twitter.com/AWeXmoN88f
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) January 13, 2020
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.
Alex Cora's name comes up 11 times in the commissioner's nine-page report on the Astros.
That he will get a lengthy suspension is inevitable.
Red Sox could lose draft picks and be fined.
Biggest question: Do Cora's actions rise to a fireable offense in ownership's eyes?
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) January 13, 2020
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.
Statement from the Boston #RedSox and Alex Cora: pic.twitter.com/qXsUhSobSy
— Red Sox (@RedSox) January 15, 2020
No players were disciplined by Major League Baseball in the Astros' investigation. While Mets manager Carlos Beltran was part of it, he was a player at the time and thus was not suspended.
Discipline for Red Sox manager Alex Cora is coming. It is going to be harsh, per sources.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
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.
MLB's report said Alex Cora set up the monitors to cheat and AJ Hinch smashed them twice!!! Hinch got a year suspension. Cora's gotta get a longer one, no?
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) January 13, 2020
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 MLB banned Pete Rose for life for gambling but apparently cheating your way to a World Series title isn't enough to strip you of a ring https://t.co/jma32Zebrw
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 13, 2020
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.
Honest question…curious what you think sports fans.
What is worse
Betting on Baseball – Pete Rose
Intentionally Cheating in World Series – Astros
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) January 13, 2020
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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