The Houston Astros just didn’t step into a quagmire; they jumped in with both feet and clean up to their collective hips.

As if the steroid problems of the past decades didn’t leave enough of a black eye for Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros will all but make that a distant memory.

In case you missed it, the Houston Astros were caught illegally stealing pitching signs during the 2017 season, and more specifically during the World Series. 

Here is a quick primer on the situation.

If an offensive player’s standing on second base, peers around the pitcher to see what signal the catcher is flashing, that’s fine, but to sit in the outfield stands with electronic equipment and relay said information to the dugout is cheating at the highest level.

Former Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora, and now formerly the Boston Red Sox manager, was the alleged mastermind of the scheme.

Astros’ head coach A. J. Hinch and the team’s General Manager Jeff Luhnow were both suspended by the MLB. 

Team owner Jim Crane went one step further and fired both of them. Cora voluntarily left the Red Sox by mutual agreement from the team. MLB also fined the Astros $5M and took away their first and second round draft slots for 2020 and 2021.

I think we are all caught up now.

Cheating is a definite no-no in just about everyone’s book. Cheating on this level with a designed system is just horrid.

Let’s take the blinders off – like team and player loyalty. Let’s take a 180-degree look at the damage. 

The L.A. Dodgers lost two World Series titles in a row. (I think the Astros still take them in 2017 without cheating.)

The series with Boston could have gone either way, presuming Cora was still engaged in the same activity.

Clayton Kewshaw and Yu Darvish suffered damage to their reputations as pitchers. Los Angeles fans ran Darsish out of town on a rail. Granted, Darvish had a problem tipping pitches. But there is a huge difference between tipping and stealing. 

Houston’s and Texas’ youth baseball players who looked up to those players as role models and sports idols have to be crushed with this news.

It is tough enough to groom good role models for today’s youth. It’s going to get worse when those same players take a 180-degree turn in their actions on the field.

And anyone who has attended any game below college-level sports has seen a huge influx of taunting, unsportsmanlike behavior from parents, coaches and players alike.

Who are we benefitting?

The $5M fine to the Astros is a hardly a slap on the wrist when you consider they made $347M that season; however, I agree with the draft picks penalty.

It is unlikely that Cora, Hinch or Luhnow will ever work again in the MLB, at least not anytime soon.

I think the 2017 roster players should forfeit their WS bonuses. The 2017 Astros roster players remaining in the 2020 season should serve a 30-game suspension to start this season.

Any players who have moved on to another organization and are still playing should serve a 15-game suspension to start this season.

The MBL Player’s Union needs to back the suspensions. There will be no bargaining on this one. 

And, if the Houston or LA district attorneys think the ongoing cheating was in anyway criminal, then charges need to be filed.

In my lifetime alone, we have seen doping, point shaving, officials betting games, Deflategate, Spygate, multiple college infractions dating back to the SMU scandal in 1987. Players faking injuries, flopping on the court in basketball, cutting themselves in pro soccer games, and even cutting in line at the Boston Marathon where the winner was disqualified for not running the entire race in 1980.

I’m not sure boycotting is the answer, but personally, I’m not going to watch or attend a Houston Astros’ ballgame until the members of the 2017 roster are no longer on the team. 

I don’t think it is plausible for a selection of 60,000+ fans in a town of 4,000,000 people to just stop going to ball games. It would make an impact, but it’s just not plausible. 

Finally, if we as a society and the ruling members of each of the major league professional sports are going to tolerate this kind of activity, then put Pete Rose in the MLB Hall of Fame. 

That’s all I’ve got, Henderson.

See ya in the funny pages.

Kent Mahoney is the managing editor of The Henderson News. His e-mail address is © 2020, Henderson Newspapers Inc.

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