By Joe Langley
Within the last week, the reputation of the Houston Astros went from being one of the most elite teams in Major League baseball to be one of the most controversial teams in all professional sports. The team recently shocked the nation with its World Series championship in October of 2017, carrying a heavy fan base. However, it is hard to support a team that refuses to play by the rules.
The speculation of illegal buzzer use to read signs first started on Twitter last week when one user posted a video of Jose Altuve’s game-winning home run in game six of the American League championship series. The team rushed to Altuve as he trotted down the third baseline. As they attempted to rip his jersey off, he swatted them away, clenching his jersey tightly.
The exhilarating moment turned awry when speculators began to question just how unnaturally the reaction occurred.
The suspicion continues. Rather than rushing the mound with his teammates, Altuve takes his LCS Champs tee in hand and sprints to the dugout, still in uniform, changing privately unlike his teammates on the field. He later reappears to do the Ken Rosenthal interview wearing the tee, to which Rosenthal asks why he didn’t want his jersey taken off. Altuve asks him to repeat the question–perhaps buying time for a response–and offers that his wife was upset last time he did.
This is not the first time the organization has been known to cheat pitches. Houston players in the dugout were banging on trash cans with their bats in an effort to tell the player at bat what type of pitch was coming, which was later proven from video evidence. Punishments were served to the Astros from the MLB, suspending Manager AJ Hinch and General Manager Jeff Lunhow for the season along with taking away first and second-round draft picks and a $5 million fine. Hours after the suspension news broke out, Hinch and Lunhow were fired by the Astros.
Alex Cora, the manager of the Boston Red Sox, was also linked to Houston’s sign-stealing as he was the bench coach for the Astros during their World Series run in 2017. After winning in Houston as the bench coach, Cora went on to win the 2018 World Series as manager for the Red Sox, adding to the suspicion behind him being linked to the sign stealing. As the investigation began for the 2018 Boston Red Sox, Alex Cora and the team mutually parted ways. There is no doubt that punishments are in the process of being made for the Red Sox from the MLB.
Senior communication major and golf team member Andrew Halmrast shared his views on the league’s punishment for Houston. “To be honest with you, I wasn’t too surprised to hear about this,” Halmrast said. “There’s been sign stealing in baseball for a while. I’m disappointed, the integrity of the game is ruined. This says more about the Houston Astros than it does about the MLB. I think the MLB is bound to find out more about teams doing this in the future.”
Halmrast is right when he says that sign-stealing isn’t something new, it’s been a hush strategy for teams for decades.
What makes the Houston Astros different than others, to Halmrast, is the extent at which the Astros stole the signs. This isn’t just a runner on second base waving a high and low hand to the batter, but the unlawful usage of advanced technology.
Further, Halmrast believes there should be more implemented punishment for the Astros. “I think they should be suspended from playoff contention this season,” Halmrast said confidently. “To think that elite players like Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman had buzzers underneath their jerseys, telling them what type of pitch was coming, ruins my perspective as a fan about their game and themselves as players.”
Sophomore computer science major and baseball team member Chase Perreault shared his perspective on Houston’s punishment. “As a player myself, these acts of cheating make me sick to my stomach,” Perreault said. “I was so surprised. Why would these elite athletes feel the need to cheat? They’re professional for a reason, they shouldn’t feel the need to cheat.”
“I honestly think this makes the Nationals win over Houston in the world series more impressive,” Perrault added. “With all this information about the Astros cheating, you have to think they were still doing it this season.”
Like Halmrast, Perreault believes there should be further punishment for the Astros. “I think taking away the World Series title would be too much, you can’t change the past,” Perreault said. “I think there should be a higher fine or more confiscated draft picks.”
Fans can only hope that this doesn’t happen in the future and that the MLB will do a better job in administering teams, making sure that history doesn’t repeat itself.