MLB Widens Cheating Scandal: What Does That Mean for the Astros?

A.J. Hinch probably wouldn't be suspended for the sign stealing scandal, —  chances grow even less the more teams that are implicated.
A.J. Hinch probably wouldn't be suspended for the sign stealing scandal, — chances grow even less the more teams that are implicated. Photo by Jack Gorman
On Tuesday, The Athletic, the same publication that broke the Astros electronic sign-stealing investigation, reported that Major League Baseball was widening its investigation, and that the Red Sox were one of the teams implicated.

Make no mistake, this doesn't lessen what the Astros may or may not have done. Cheating is cheating, even if other teams do similar things to gain an advantage.

HOWEVER, it could radically alter the scope of punishment for teams like the Astros if baseball determines the problem, as many suspected, is more widespread. That doesn't mean there won't be any punishment. There's a good chance only a handful of teams employed tactics to gain a competitive advantage (cough...cheated...cough). For the love of God, let's hope the Orioles didn't cheat because, well, they would suck at that worse than they suck at baseball.

But, for teams that did use technology to give themselves a better chance at winning beyond what is allowed by the league, the simple fact that more than one franchise is guilty would certainly seem to lessen the effect on everyone.

If this had just been the Astros, there would be a strong case to be made for MLB to throw the book at them. That might include fines, draft pick compensation and suspensions for GM Jeff Luhnow and/or manager A.J. Hinch. If, however, there are several teams involved, it is unlikely the league will suspend the front offices of a handful of major franchises.

And if this goes beyond what some believe to be a crime of the Astros, Red Sox and Yankees, how does the league office contend with that? If a half dozen or more teams are implicated, that falls more into the category of required rule changes than punishment. At some point, MLB will have to decide how to address it going forward rather than trying to retroactively hand out punishment.

We aren't there yet, but as the league continues to dig for details on electronic forms of cheating by its franchises, the more it finds, the better it is for the Astros.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke