Cheating in professional sports is nothing new, but how the cheating is occurring is something people have never seen before in the modern era. The most recent example is the MLB, Major League Baseball, findings of the Houston Astros using a live feed from a center-field camera to decipher the opposing catchers’ signs in real-time and deploying a system that involved banging on a trash can in their dugout to alert their hitters of the upcoming pitches during the 2017 season.
Not only was manager, AJ Hinch and general manager, Jeff Luhnow fired, but the organization was fined $5 million and their first and second-round draft picks this season and next season are forfeited. However, the individual players themselves were not punished for their contributions in the cheating, which is alarming because they scammed the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers out of a World Series title in which they only won because they cheated.
The Astros’ should be stripped of their title, the players forced to hand their rings back, and next to their 2017 title in the record books, there should be an asterisk denoting the lack of a true champion.
“At the end of the day, I think it should be taken away,” junior Ryan Gledhill said. “If you take a look at any other sport, the Olympics for example, if someone cheats to get a gold medal it would most likely be taken away and if it’s not then it would be thrown under fire.”
Not only did the Astros’ cheat their way to their franchise’s first championship, they have also tarnished their reputation as a whole because they didn’t play the game with integrity. Many players on this 2017 squad including Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa and the owner Jim Crane have come out over the last couple of weeks and have issued insincere apologies. Crane’s apology was, “Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game”. This has further dampered the team’s reputation.
“It’s crushing them, if you watch any social media you see Altuve or Correa getting called out by their peers, it’s pretty demoralizing for them,” baseball coach Bill Montemayor said. “I don’t have too much empathy for them, they put it on themselves and they deserve it.”
When the Astros’ were playing the Yankees in the ALCS, American League Championship Series, in 2017, the Yankees scored three runs at Minute Maid Park in four games, which is highly suspicious considering they averaged five runs a game with a high powered offense throughout the season. Despite the fact the Astros had a young talented team as well, the Yankees were the clear favorites to advance to the World Series after Games 3 and 5, in which they demolished the Astros in New York 8-1 and 5-0 respectively.
“That series Altuve hit a walkoff home run in Game 7 to send his team to the World Series for the first time since 2005, it was such a monumental achievement,” Gledhill said. “If you look at that pitch, it was a 100 mph slider from Aroldis Chapman, and usually that’s untouchable. Altuve was cheating up in the box anticipating that pitch, there’s just no way he could have hit that, it’s too hard, the reaction time is too slow, no way that could have happened.”
With technology so involved in the game already which includes phones in the dugouts to communicate to bullpens and film of the games for athletes to use; it is fair to say technology has a huge impact on the game. That impact can definitely be negative to get an advantage over another team and that’s exactly what the Astros did with technology.
“It really shows what a clever plan and malicious minds can make of to win a World Series for the organization,” senior Jacob Gazda said. “It just shows them the power of technology and how they had such an edge over the other teams.”
Using technology to gain an unfair advantage like this doesn’t just affect the outcome of a game, but it can also cost player’s awards. During that 2017 season, Yankees’ Aaron Judge had a MVP caliber year , hitting 52 home runs and holding a .284 batting average.
“If the Yankees ended up winning the ALCS and advancing to the World Series, Judge would have been the front runner in MVP voting if they were to win the World Series,” Gazda said. “But, he never got the chance to play in the World Series thus boosting Altuve to the top of the MVP voting after they won the World Series that year.”
Now that spring training has started, players all around the league have definitely expressed their feelings toward the Astros’. Alex Wood, a pitcher for the Dodgers— whom the Astros defeated for the title in 2017 — tweeted: “I would rather face a player that was taking steroids than face a player that knew every pitch that was coming.”
“If I knew what [pitch] was coming in ’17, I probably would have hit 80-plus home runs,” Yankees right-fielder Giancarlo Stanton said.
With all that being said, I personally believe the integrity of the game of baseball is deteriorated because with these players lying on the Astros’, it’s impossible for fans and other teams to respect this franchise again and partially the MLB because the players themselves weren’t punished.
“It just puts another taint on the game that’s trying to generate new fans especially young fans who are trying to find ways to get them engaged,” Montemayor said. Then something like this happens and it just puts a bad spotlight on the sport and makes people less engaged to watch because they are always questioning the integrity of the actual game.”