^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

Four Reasons the Houston Astros are MLB's Face of Cheating

Jeff Luhnow in happier times, next to a championship trophy.
Jeff Luhnow in happier times, next to a championship trophy.
Photo by Jack Gorman

We are a little over a week removed from the announcement of Major League Baseball's punishment for the Houston Astros, a lashing that was compounded with the firings of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow by owner Jim Crane. It's been fascinating watching the city go through the various stages of grief. If you believe the Kubler-Ross psychological model of internalizing grief, the final stage is acceptance.

Let me just say that I'm pleasantly surprised by Astro fans, because acceptance almost implies some degree of passivity, a calm understanding that "Hey, it is what it is." However, Astro fan acceptance of not only the sanctions and firings, but the ridicule from fans and media around the country has been supplemented with a passion for the 2020 season to get here that I wasn't expecting.

It certainly helps when we have Jose Altuve guaranteeing us another World Series!

Now, I saw a debate on television last week asking the question "Are the Astros, as a team, the face of the cheating scandal?" I couldn't believe this was even a question. Houston might not like to hear it, but despite the fact that a ton of teams are probably cheating in some fashion, YES, the Astros are the face of cheating now in MLB, and here are four reasons why:

4. The sign stealing was a chronological adjunct to the Brandon Taubman incident.
When the misdeeds of 2017 were exposed in November of last year, the Astros weren't some middle of the road, perennial .500 team. They were the defending American League champion, and beyond that, they were a team that was viewed as having a somewhat cutthroat, win-at-all-cost culture. The baseball operations side was emboldened by team success, and this was never more evident than when former assistant GM Brandon Taubman verbally harangued some female reporters over the success of former domestic abuser, closer Roberto Osuna. (One of those reporters had been very outspoken against the pickup of Osuna, for the record.) The Astros response to that incident was to issue a press release saying the writer documenting it, one of the females in that scrum that Taubman yelled at, was fabricating the story. This wound up NOT being the case, and Jim Crane had to embarrassingly apologize for his club's behavior and handling of the situation. In other words, the sign stealing thing is part of string of behavior that has painted the Astros as a villainous franchise. Everything they now do, negatively, is kindling on top of the prior transgressions.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

3. The Astros, by and large, don't have a ton of other relevant history.
The Red Sox are being investigated for cheating in 2018, as we speak. There are rumors of other blue blood baseball teams engaging in some form of cheating. Here's the thing — the Astros aren't a blue blood franchise. They have a nice history, but they don't have outfield walls covered in world championship banners to distract from the scandal, or other titles they can point to to say "Yeah, but the other titles are intact and untainted." The Astros have one title, and they were proven to be cheating during that postseason. The end.

2. The Astros were ratted out by one of their own players
This whole thing came to light because Mike Fiers put his name on his testimony. He told The Athletic exactly what he saw in 2017, which is infuriating if you see any of the still shots or videos of him celebrating back in 2017. There's something about that that just sits wrong with me. Nevertheless, the fact that it was a former Astro (and current pitcher of a team in the Astros division) blowing the whistle makes this whole thing more noteworthy.

1. The actual sign stealing scheme was beyond absurd.
The crux of the scheme's illegality is baked into the use of high speed cameras in the outfield, wired to monitors in the clubhouse, being used. Technology! The comical part of the scheme is the fact that the method of conveying the signs to the hitter was to have a person pounding a garbage can with a bat down in the clubhouse runway. Think about how ridiculous that sounds and looks!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.