The sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox has dominated the offseason for Major League Baseball.
MLB Will Not Strip Astros, Red Sox of Titles
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said the league will not strip the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox of their 2017 and 2018 World Series championships, respectively, despite a resolution introduced by the Los Angeles City Council, which seeks to retroactively award the titles to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Astros faced severe punishment from Major League Baseball for using electronic devices, in addition to banging on trash cans, to steal signs and relay that information to batters, including a $5 million fine, one year suspensions for former manager A.J. Hinch and former general manager Jeff Luhnow, as well as the loss of future draft picks.
Manfred said, “We haven’t concluded our investigation with the Red Sox. So it’s a little hard to take the trophy away from somebody who hasn’t yet been found to do something wrong. We don’t know what the outcome of that’s going to be.”
The commissioner also said that there is a “long tradition in baseball of not trying to change what happened.”
What happened has also led to terminations and the permanent damage to reputations.
After Major League Baseball handed down suspensions for Hinch and Luhnow, Astros majority owner Jim Crane fired the two.
But the impact that the sign-stealing scheme had on the World Series is hard to determine because the Astros won a decisive game seven on the road at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The cheating occurred at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Furthermore, throughout the playoffs, Minute Maid Park, a retractable roof stadium, had its roof closed making it more difficult for players to hear the banging on the trash can alongside the thunderous noise of the home crowd.
Additionally, the Houston Astros had the home field advantage for the 2019 World Series, meaning four games took place in Houston and three games took place on the home field of the Washington Nationals.
The Astros lost every World Series game at home in 2019 and won all three games in Washington, D.C.
Although the sign stealing scheme ended in early 2018, the fact that the Astros won all away games during the 2019 World Series showed that there is no guarantee that their opponent would have won if not for the sign-stealing scheme.
And despite the Los Angeles City Council approving a resolution demanding that Major League Baseball give the 2017 and 2018 championships to the Dodgers, Manfred said it is “absolutely unclear that the Dodgers would have been the World Series champion.”
Furthermore, RegalMag.com spoke with two former Major League Baseball players off the record.
One player, not a former Astro, said that his former team stole signs with a video monitor too years ago.
The sign-stealing scandal has also led to the termination of former Red Sox manager Alex Cora and former New York Mets manager, Carlos Beltran.
Cora served as a bench coach during the Astros’ 2017 World Series run.
Beltran served as a designator hitter for the Astros during the 2017 season.
Cora led the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series title while the Mets fired Beltran before he could manage one game.
Recently, Houston Astros star infielders Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman spoke to the media about the cheating scandal.
The two did not sound remorseful enough to some critics with Altuve guaranteeing a 2020 World Series trip for the Astros.
Crane said, “When we get down to spring training, we’ll all get together and they’ll come out with a strong statement as a team and, I think, apologize for what happened and move forward.”
The Astros owner added, “Everyone is split up. It’s a team. We’re going to sit in a room and talk about it, then we’ll come out and address the press. All of them will address the press, either as a group or individually.”
However, sports agent Scott Boras does not believe the Astros players have anything to apologize about.
Boras said, “I’m doing what my organization is telling me to do. You installed this. You put this in front of us. Coaches and managers encourage you to use this information. It’s not coming from the player individually. It’s coming from the team. In my stadium. Installed. With my authority…To suggest players violated rules that were withheld from them is a false incrimination of players.”
Although the Astros might want to move on from the scandal, some of their peers in the league have not let the cheating scandal go.
Kansas City Royals star Whit Merrifield said that the Astros cheating scandal kept him off of the All-Star roster in favor of Altuve.
“I’m going to consider myself an All-Star [for that year] with all this stuff that’s come out,” Merrifield said. “We’ll put an asterisk by 2018. And on top of it, we’ll go ahead and throw in a silver slugger for good measure.”
The investigation showed that the Astros used the sign-stealing scheme for the entire 2017 and a portion of the 2018 season when the players “no longer believed it was effective.”
Altuve started at second base at the 2018 All-Star game.
All-Star game starters are determined by the fan vote so there is no guarantee that Whitfield would have earned that spot over Altuve.
Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees was the original reserve at second base for the 2018 American League All-Star team, but was later replaced by Jed Lowrie of the Oakland Athletics because of injury.
In 2018, Merrifield finished in the 17th place for the American League Most Valuable Player award.
Merrifield did get a chance to participate in the 2019 All-Star game as Mike Trout’s replacement in centerfield.