Major League Baseball has been at a crossroads the last several seasons to try and evolve the game. However, the desire to modernize while still saying traditional has put up roadblocks, while also being hypocritical. It has made it impossible to figure out what the heck is going on and it got that much more difficult to navigate with the Houston Astros cheating scandal.
What should have been a slam dunk, since it was so well documented, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred managed to absolutely botched when it came to punishing the Astros. 1st and 2nd round picks the next two drafts, $5 million dollars and one year suspensions for the coach and GM who were both fired. No punishment whatsoever, except for Carlos Beltran who wasn’t even playing anymore, for any of the players who had just as big a part in it.
Losing the ring, the legacy (admittedly there will be a black mark), money, none of that has been taken away from any of the players. Pete Rose has been banned from almost all things baseball for gambling, did it really change the outcome of the game? The steroids era is still a massive black mark on baseball and the Hall of Fame. Using steroids effects the outcome and players are being punished in some capacity but nothing for the Astros. Maybe they’ll be punished when they get to the Hall of Fame, but nothing while they play out their career.
Reggie Bush had his Heisman taken away, games were struck from the USC record, Tom Brady was suspended four games for Deflategate. There is precedent across all sports and yet almost nothing was done to Houston. Astros pitcher Francis Martes was suspended the whole 2020 year for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, but his teammates that cheated for post season success didn’t get a thing. Rob Manfred absolutely whiffed on the whole situation and may have started the chain reaction that starts to tear down the traditional values MLB tries to hold dearly.
Current stars have not beat around the bush; Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger have gone hard after the commissioner and the Astros. The comments have been so strong that Manfred has stated his frustration over the criticism to his lack of punishment. He sent himself to the bottom of the major four sports leadership and harmed MLB as all four leagues jostle for money and ratings, but as bad a time he’s having the Astros may find themselves getting punishment from their peers.
The old boy sport that has the ‘unwritten rules’ will likely find themselves at the wrong end of them. I don’t think anyone deserves to be hurt but it may be a bean ball year for Houston. There are lines being set for the number of hit batsmen they’ll take and most have it somewhere in the 80’s, one every other game. The Astros have lost respect among their peers and it isn’t going to go away. It could get ugly and those ‘old boy rules’ may force a big change for MLB.
Steroids, look the other way until it becomes a non-sports concern. The reliever rule change for three minimum batters because of the pace of game needs to be changed, but cheating is fine. Absolutely changing the outcome of games, the playoffs and the World Series means nothing. The worst possible place to get caught cheating was met with the leadership of the MLB saying nothing done was enough.
Houston has already felt some repercussions from the other stars in MLB and fans have been banging trash cans during spring training and that’s just the start. Maybe MLB will see and uptick in ratings as fans check in to see what happen to the Astros, especially on the road, but MLB damaged itself big time this off season.
The old saying is if you aren’t cheating you ain’t trying. There was outrage when Derek Jeter lied about getting hit on the elbow and admitted after the game he wasn’t hit. It was gamesmanship. Steroids, sign stealing and now this? MLB’s legacy was racism for a long time, they aren’t alone in that, but the national past time still has its struggles. The only thing that rivals that is cheating. The legacy of baseball is cheating and Rob Manfred signed off on it to continue.