Full disclosure – I’m a New York Yankees fan. In 2017, I was upset when my team was ousted from the American League Championship Series by the Houston Astros. Now, I am really, really angry, after learning that the Astros cheated their way through that contest and the one that followed – the World Series, where they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers. The cheating involved using various techniques, including electronics, to steal signs and alert the batter on what pitch to expect. As players begin to report to spring training, we are hearing apologies from the Astros, from the owner, Jim Crane, down to their players, Jose Altuve and Justin Verlander. These apologies make it clear that nearly everyone on the team knew that there was cheating going on. From Verlander: “I wish I had said more. Looking back, I can’t go back, I can’t reverse my decision. I wish I had said more, and I didn’t, and for that I am sorry.”
I’m sorry, Verlander, but that apology just doesn’t cut it. You were one of the team’s star pitchers and, supposedly, one of the leaders in the clubhouse. If you had spoken up, things might have been different. Instead you stuck with the silent majority and allowed your team to win by cheating. How will you face your fans, your family, and your friends now that everyone knows you sat back and didn’t speak up? How can you be a role model for all those young people who play baseball, maybe aspire to one day play in the majors?
When asked if he felt remorse, Jose Altuve, who hit the game-winning homerun to defeat the Yankees, said: “Yeah, kind of. That’s why we feel bad. I’m not going to say to you that it was good – it was wrong. We feel bad, we feel remorse, like I said, the impact on the fans, the impact on the game – we feel bad.”
Oh, boo-hoo, Jose. You refused to take off your shirt after you passed home plate on that game-winning hit, saying you were shy. Not because you were wearing some kind of electronic device signaling pitches? You’ve denied it. We don’t believe you.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred hasn’t done his job. This scandal is right up there with the 1919 Chicago White Sox, who intentionally threw the World Series in exchange for money. Manfred issued year-long bans from baseball to the Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch, and both men were subsequently fired by Astros owner, Jim Crane. (Also fired were Alex Cora, manager of the Boston Red Sox, and Carlos Beltran, who had just been hired as manager for the New York Mets. Both men had been involved in the sign-stealing plot when they worked for the Astros.) None of this is punishment enough. Luhnow and Hinch should be banned for life, something that was done to Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds, after he was caught betting on games, although none that he was playing in. That World Series trophy should be taken away from the Astros, and 2017 recorded as the year when cheating prevented a fair game.
And all those World Series rings that the Astros have been wearing? I challenge any of those players to once again wear those rings with pride. Rather, tuck them away in a box and look at them every now and then to remind yourself what cheating and staying silent has done to the game.
Top photo: Bigstock