Now that Major League Baseball's spring training is officially underway it is becoming more and more evident that the Houston Astros are completely despised by other MLB teams. Yesterday when Houston played a spring training game at Detroit, Jose Altuve was booed loudly every time he came to the plate, and was cheered when he was hit by a pitch. How long this disdain for the Astros will last is anybody's guess but it doesn't appear likely it's going away anytime soon.
It all stems from the cheating scandal that was brought to everyone's attention last fall. You know, the one that accused the team of "stealing signs" from opposing teams in games for the last several seasons.
Whether it was from using video cameras to steal the signs or some other form of theft, other players from other teams are really perturbed. Just about every player who has been asked about the scandal feels the punishment handed down by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was too light. Some have even suggested that MLB should strip the 2017 World Series title from Houston. Fans from other teams are even more convinced that the Astros should not only be stripped of the title but the players should all be tarred and feathered and kicked out of baseball.
That seems a bit extreme but it goes to show you just how seriously folks are taking this whole scandal thing. Even though Commissioner Manfred has already handed down punishment for the team, several managers were fired as well as front office people who were involved in the deal. If it's serious enough to fire managers and general managers, it's serious enough to punish the players involved.
Of course, there have been half hearted, tongue in cheek apologies but none seem to have been really sincere. It seems that Astros' players haven't taken this cheating deal seriously. I wrote about cheating and sports several weeks ago and now it seems to have really taken off. Since the managers and general managers were fired from their jobs, Commissioner Manfred stated that teams throwing at Astros' players in games would be fined and suspensions would be handed out. Since the players were not chastised for cheating, Major League teams have been forbidden to handle things their own way.
It is wrong to cheat whether it's stealing signs or cheating on a test in school. I know old time baseball purists have said stealing signs is part of the game of baseball. Everyone has done it and will continue to do it. But while the old way of stealing signs involved just watching opposing coaches and players give their signals and trying to figure out what they mean, using video cameras and other high-tech equipment is a bit overboard. it will interesting to see just how many Astros are "plunked" this season as teams retaliate in their own way. Stay tuned.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org