Buzz on Baseball's Worst Scandal in Decades
Image courtesy of © Camille Fine-USA TODAY SportsLooking at the totality of this situation, I simply can’t come to any conclusion other than this being the most impactful scandal in the history of Major League Baseball. The White Sox fixed a World Series game in 1919 for some additional funds. Pete Rose bet on his own team. Steroids ran rampant through the sport and everyone benefited. This though, this is different.
In an effort to stay organized, let’s break it down in to small pieces:
On sign stealing
I have zero problem with sign stealing in general. Looking in to see what the catcher is putting down and relaying that to hitters is a worthwhile practice. Changing up looks or going with different identifiers is something battery mates can do to combat this. When electronic devices are involved however, all the nuance is removed, and things are taken to an unfair level. Unequivocally, cheating.
On Mike Fiers
The Houston Astros cheated, plain and simple. Fiers was part of this and he blew it up by giving quotes to The Athletic, but he was still a beneficiary. Despite taking two years to come public with it, Trevor Bauer suggests Fiers (among others) had long been looking for baseball to take a greater stance. I still don't believe that absolves Fiers from wrongdoing or makes him a hero, but noting his claims were falling on deaf ears, he took charge. There's a substantial amount of courage in that, and my stance on his decision has done nearly a 180 in less than 24 hours.
On the fallout
We now have watched as three different managers and a general manager all lost their jobs. Two of them definitely feel a level of hurt that won’t soon go away. A.J. Hinch and Jeff Lunhow deserved what they got but are the farthest from the transgressions. Hinch needed to escalate the issues, and Lunhow trusted a manager that didn’t do enough. Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran acted as ringleaders of sorts. The former looks the worst in all of this, while the latter sacrificed a career of integrity for fleeting moments of poor decision-making. None of the punishments are unjustified, but it’s certainly unfortunate the rest of those who were on the field with Beltran are currently in the clear.
On that character clause
If there’s a day to examine the silliness of enshrinement into Cooperstown, it may be when things like this happen. More than any other sport, history matters in baseball. As Jayson Stark so perfectly put it, “These things happened. They. All. Happened. All of them!” It’s why stripping the Astros' World Series title is nonsensical, and it’s why Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rose, and Jackson all belong in The Hall. Each of these feats happened, no matter what black eye may be tied to them. The sport grows, evolves, and is better for its forward-thinking decisions, but retroactive decision-making isn’t how a museum works. We can't erase what the Astros did, but there's certainly something to be learned from it.
On what’s blowing up
We haven’t yet seen the end of this. Beltran “stepping down” as he did today was the next step in this ongoing saga. It appears someone with inside information is running rampant on the extent of what Houston was actually doing. Initially claiming to be a niece of Beltran, the account has now been suggested to be a burner for a player. The validity in the claims is backed by having nailed the Beltran hire, and subsequently his "firing." Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve have both been named directly, and being tied to electronic devices that line up with weird behavior following a World Series win is hardly a good look. An active player being suspended for this before all the investigating is done would not be a surprise. You can bet that the Astros will be public enemy number one in any opposing ballpark, and the production of those players will be highly scrutinized going forward.
*Since reported this is not Beltran's niece, but potentially someone with inside info.
On what's next
Do we really even have a clue at this point? Following the initial punishment of the Astros, Major League Baseball asked all clubs not to comment. That sort of recommendation from Rob Manfred leaves a can of worms spilling out with the lid nowhere in sight. Other teams have been implicated, more players have been named, and while it's the Astros who have currently taken the fall (as they should, and with Boston pending), the sport has a massive rain cloud hovering and the only question is when it dumps. The difficulty with investigation regarding this sort of thing is how far do you go? Where do you stop digging? I think we've now embarked into a territory where "We'll never know" is staunchly met by "It will never be enough."
On who wins and loses
We all do, for both. It must be that way, right? This offseason has created a brushfire that is burning brighter than the league has ever seen. Baseball has long desired to be better than the kid-brother of the NFL or NBA. We may not have gotten there in the most desirable way, but welcome to the most exciting offseason ever. On the flip side, we aren’t talking about the mega deals being signed, who is the World Series favorite, or how well positioned the Minnesota Twins may be in the AL Central. The game gets a bit cleaner when these things happen, but how long do we wonder if everything isn’t actually tainted?
We won't hear Justin Verlander chime in on this one. He's often been quick to police those around the game, but despite currently being employed by the Astros, he was also there and present for that ring in 2017. Other pitchers though, and in this instance one from the Twins, can come to a very logical perspective.
In closing, I think it’s hard to back away from this and see it as anything but a monumental moment in baseball’s lifecycle. This isn’t about sign-stealing, and it isn’t even about the Houston Astros. This is about competition, winning, and what we’ll do to achieve it, even more so when money is involved. The bombs will eventually cease to be dropped, but when will the smoke clear?
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
- tarheeltwinsfan and nclahammer like this