With all of the awful cheating scandals that MLB has faced, including PEDs, the Houston Astros have topped everyone on the cheating list.
In light of new findings, the media is reacting to what may be the biggest scandal in professional sports history, the Houston Astros sign-stealing investigation. And of course, with any discussion of cheating in baseball comes the comparisons to performance enhancing drugs.
During a segment of Mike Francesca’s Mike’s On, the radio legend bashed former Yankees southpaw CC Sabathia for claiming the Yankees “got cheated” out of titles by the Astros and Red Sox. “Stop whining,” Francesca said. “You lost the game on the field.” Francesca went on to sarcastically question if the Yankees had steroid users on any of their World Series teams (as if it were a logical comparison).
Last Friday, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood took to Twitter to share his thoughts: “I would rather face a player that was taking steroids than face a player that knew every pitch that was coming.”
This is a statement that should ring true for all big league hurlers. Skill is required to track the ball, decide on what is coming out of the pitchers hand and choose to swing or not. On the other hand, steroids begins and ends with increased muscle mass. Steroid users still have to leverage hitting skill to make contact – they just hit it farther.
“I’ve had to live with my mom until I got to the big leagues,” said Indians reliever Mike Clevinger. “Now you’re telling me somebody could have potentially shorted my career, or sent me back down, make me figure s*** out, because they knew what I was throwing when I was in their park?”
It’s one thing when a few individuals on a team are able to hit a ball a bit farther than everyone else. It’s another when an entire organization bands together to configure a scheme that ruins the integrity of the game.
During the 1919 World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds gamblers met with the Sox to discuss a payout of $100,000 to the ill-paid ballplayers and in exchange, they would throw the series. In a fix that would later be called the “Black Sox Scandal of 1919,” all eight involved ballplayers were permanently banned from organized baseball and any post-career honors (including the Hall of Fame) by then Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
“Regardless of the verdict of juries,” Judge Landis wrote, “no player who throws a ballgame, no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame, no player that sits in conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.”
The same can be said for a player who cheats to win a series. So why aren’t harsher punishments coming down on the Astros players? With the big business that is baseball, it’s going to be hard to see any modern-day stars expelled from the game. But the least that can be done is a record suspension for all involved.
The hardest thing in pro sports is to hit a baseball. The batter has about 250 thousandths of a second to make a decision on a pitch – about the limit of human reaction time. It’s a thing of beauty – the competition between pitcher and batter, every at-bat, every pitch is a game in of itself. It’s what makes baseball unique. The Astros took all of that and threw it in the trash.