As spring training begins for the 2020 season, the Houston Astros will be attempting to put their cheating scandal behind them and prove their doubters wrong.
The scandal resulted from findings that the Astros stole signs from opposing teams throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons, which included a World Series championship in 2017.
The team used a camera placed in center field to film the opposing catchers’ signs to pitchers to identify the pitch that was coming. Astros players and staff were watching a live feed in a room behind their dugout and would signal what pitch was coming to their player who was at bat.
The Astros ownership chose to fire manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow after they were initially suspended for a year by Major League Baseball.
As spring training commenced this past week throughout the league, prominent Astros players, including stars Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, apologized publicly for the cheating that occurred.
These apologies were brief and insincere and were criticized by many throughout baseball, including Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger, who described them as “weak.”
Bellinger also commented “we all knew what they were doing” and “teams complained to MLB” long before the scandal ever went public.
Bellinger’s team, the Dodgers, lost to the Astros in the World Series in 2017.
Many players across the league have expressed that the players should have been punished for their actions. The league didn’t give out any suspensions or fines to the players involved.
Kris Bryant, a star third baseman for the Chicago Cubs, made a strong statement against the Astros’ players when he addressed the media at spring training this past week.
“This is people’s livelihoods that they’re messing with,” Bryant said. “I personally think it is worse than steroids.”
The Astros will surely face extreme criticism and hostility from opposing teams and fans this season.
Bryant commented that he feels that they will get booed heavily everywhere they go on the road and “rightfully so.”
MLB’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, spoke to the media about the scandal and the punishments that were given to the team.
The Astros organization was fined $5 million, which for an organization with their worth is pretty insignificant and the team lost multiple draft picks.
When asked about the players not being punished, Manfred said, “I understand when people say the players should’ve been punished. If I was in a world where I could’ve found all the facts without granting immunity, I would’ve done that. I understand people’s desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here,” Manfred said. “I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price.”
The Astros will be motivated this year to prove their doubters wrong and turn in a winning season.
They have one of the most talented rosters in baseball from top to bottom. Yet, it is impossible to ignore their previous success could have been a result of their extensive cheating.
These individual players that were involved in the scandal will be forced to prove this season that they’re the same caliber of hitters without the sign-stealing advantage they created.Janssen can be reached at [email protected].