Teams or players using whatever advantage they can get over their opponents is nothing new, its been going on since the dawn of competition. But there are times when professional organizations or athletes go a tad bit too far and wind up getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar leading to some of the biggest scandals in sports history.
Case in point, the Houston Astros, MLB’s darlings who have taken the league by storm going from one of the worst teams in baseball to a perennial powerhouse in the American League. Since 2013, the Astros went from an abysmal 51-111 record earning them last place, to two World Series visits 2017-19 winning one against the Los Angeles Dodgers and losing the other to the Washington Nationals.
It was widely believed the Astros success was due to the leadership of then manager A.J. Hinch and stellar hitting from players like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Carlos Correa. Oh, and, of course, we can’t forget the stellar pitching from starting pitchers Dallas Keuchel, Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole with a formidable bullpen to back them up.
That whole mystique came crashing down in a matter of minutes when the MLB dropped a bombshell in the form of a nine-page report detailing how the Houston Astros used electronic sign-stealing to help them win home games. There was also video evidence supplied by Twitter user @Jomboy_ that clearly shows Astro batters being tipped off to the opposing team’s pitches by someone banging on what is to believe a bat rack can when the catcher gives his pitcher a specific signal.
Some people even believe that batters wore an electric buzzer under their uniforms to tip them off as well. A video of Jose Altuve after his game-winning home run off Yankees’ fireball throwing closer now hits a lot different due to Altuve’s reluctance to have his jersey torn off when he reaches his mob of teammates to celebrate. He even runs into the dugout to change into another shirt before heading back on the field to celebrate.
Following the release of the report punishments quickly followed, both Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year and subsequently fired by owner Jim Crane. Both Red Sox manager Alex Cora and recently hired Mets’ manager Carlos Beltran are both unemployed as a result of the sign-stealing scandal. The team was also fined $5 million and lost 1st, and 2nd round draft picks. The Red Sox are still currently under investigation for their own cheating scandal during the 2018 season.
Despite a quick and very harsh punishment, some still believe it’s not enough and that both the Astros and Red Sox should vacate their titles, and the players should give back their rings. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced Wednesday (Jan.22) that will not be the case during an appearance on Fox Business.
The Astros and the Red Sox’s recent cheating scandals are not MLB’s only black eye. Major League Baseball has always had a cheating problem, whether it’s pitchers using spitballs, use of too much pine tar, illegal betting on games. We can’t forget the well-documented steroid era that engulfed baseball’s biggest stars and even the historic Chicago Black Sox incident that led to the first commissioner of the league.
The MLB is not alone though cheating and scandals are rampant in the NFL, NBA, and WWE as well. Just ask the Patriots, Hulk Hogan, and NBA referee Tim Donaghy. You can get the lowdown on each of those scandals in the gallery below and remember folks cheaters never prosper…forever.
Photo: Rob Tringali / Getty