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Astros Accused of Cheating - My take on the Accusation and Cheating in Baseball - UPDATED

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Kyle McLaughlin taking Photos into Red Sox Dugout
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I’m sure you’ve heard by now, that the Astros were accused of cheating. I am going to give my relatively biased, unfiltered opinion on this.

So to start with, the accusation is that the Astros have a person (Kyle McLaughlin) in the media box who is taking pictures into the opposing dug-out and relaying that information to the Astros as a way of stealing signs.

Let me start off by saying, that if this is true, it’s the first time I’m truly disappointed in the Astros since the start of the Luhnow regime.

But I will be honest, I simply can’t imagine it to be true. Yes, I’m an Astros writer, and admittedly biased with the love for my team. But let me explain why I can’t believe this.

The Astros, heralded for advanced ways of thinking and usage of technology. They hire engineers from NASA in their front office. So with all this brainpower, the best they could come up with is literally the same person in multiple series literally leaning over a banister and taking pictures in a dugout? And according to reports, he was thrown out in the ALDS for the same thing. After that happened, they didn’t even say, hmm maybe we use a different person?

So the Astros, instead of using the thousands of camera’s / advanced technology, have a guy with clear ties to the Astros who is basically making his presence known as much as possible by sitting in the media box and leaning over the railing to take photos????

That just seems insane to me. Even if you take out the technology aspect, which would be baffling to begin with, why not make it a “fan” in one of the seats next to the dug out, or even once “caught”, why use the exact same guy, in the exact same manner?

Even the Red Sox who were caught doing the same thing using an Apple Watch and who counterclaimed that the Yankees used a dedicated camera from YES – should have given them better ideas technology wise.

I just tend to believe that the Astros are smarter than that.

The worst part about all of this, is it will leave a shadow across the legacy of a potential dynasty, regardless of it’s merits. Innocent until proven guilty does not come into play in the public eye (PLEASE do not turn this into a political comment and/or conversation).

I am not saying the Astros did not cheat – I want to be clear of that. And if they did, I do hope that the MLB actually does something.

**NOTE: Forbes is currently reporting that the MLB investigated and has closed the matter***

Cheating in Baseball

There’s a consistent debate in regards to cheating in baseball, that it has been around since the dawn of time. That ever since the first baseball was thrown, people were looking to do whatever it took to win. Here’s a look back at some of the notable scandals (I am going to preface all of the below as suspected, I’m not a lawyer, not trying to hurt anyone’s reputation, just trying to show the history in the MLB)

-1877 Louisville Grays intentionally throw games. 4 players banned for life from baseball.

-1908 Bribery Attempt – John McGraw (manager of the Giants) is suspected to have convinced his team physician (possibly the scapegoat) of attempting to bribe the umpire to swing a play-in type of game.

-1919 The Black Sox Scandal – probably the most famous, where Shoeless Joe and 7 other players were banned from baseball for throwing the game.

-1980’s – Pete Rose betting scandal as a manager resulted in him being banned for life.

- 1980’s – “Greenies” – notariety came through the Pittsburg Cocaine scandal, it became evident that some of the all-time greats had used and abused the PEDs and how prevalent it was across baseball.

- 1990-2000’s – Steroid era – whether it be Jose Canseco’s books, the Mitchell report, or the Congressional hearings – even non-baseball fans knew about the details of this one.

-2013 Biogenesis scandal – Similar but specific to the Steroid Era scandal, 20 MLB players were accused of taking HGH from Biogenesis, and included suspensions for key note players such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun

- 2015Cardinals hacking Scandal – Scouting Director from the Cardinals was found guilty of “hacking” into the Astros data-base and using the information for the Cardinals gain. The Astros were awarded two draft picks and the “only one who knew” in the Cardinals organization is serving time in jail.

- 2017 – The Red Sox were caught when the Yankees reported that the Red Sox were using the first base coach’s Apple Watch to steal signs and relay them to the dugout and batter. The Red Sox admitted to this, but counterclaimed that the Yankees used a camera from YES for the exact same purpose.

So yes, cheating in baseball has always run rampant, in a sport like this, people take every possible avenue for gaining the smallest advantage. I am truly disappointed that it is a discussion we even have to have, but until the pro’s and con’s weigh in favor of doing the right thing, it will consistently remain.

Even before this claim against the Astros came out in regards to cheating, there was already attention drawn to cheating in this series with the substance on Red Sox pitcher’s arm (see tweet below)

I am a believer that if the MLB wants to stop cheating, they need to make the punishment aggressive enough that it truly deters offenders. Really want steroids out of baseball? Make it a lifetime ban on first offense. Want people to stop using Pine Tar (or similar substances) – make the game automatically forfeited for any time it’s found. Make it so that the Risk vs Reward equation doesn’t warrant cheating from a gain perspective instead of just the morality aspect.

Cheating – Admit even if not guilty?

I remember when PED’s were running rampant, and multiple players including Roger Clemens were accused of using steroids. I stopped and thought about it, for a player accused of taking steroids, the best thing you can do is admit it, give the crying apology, and play well so everyone forgets.

Unfortunately, this is the case EVEN IF YOU NEVER TOOK STEROIDS. I obviously have no idea if Roger Clemens ever took steroids, I wasn’t there, I never met the man, etc … but I don’t know if I know of many people who would argue for him.

But let’s pretend for a second that he never used them, and McNamee was accusing him for the fame and monetary gain that gained him. Clemens vehemently denied it, he denied it under oath, he denied it when it went to court, he didn’t accept a plea bargain to not have prison time in exchange for his guilty plea. He fought it, fought it tooth and nail, opening himself and his family to an insane amount of scrutiny. The result? After 2 separate trials, Clemens was found not guilty on all 6 counts.

So after all of the time, money, and risk invested in fighting it, Clemens is still deemed in the public eye in the same light as players who were proven to be guilty.

In our scenario, he would have been better simply lying and saying he did it, gone out and pitched another couple seasons of above average baseball, and had fans forgive him through the performance he had. Instead, he’ll likely never make the Hall of Fame until the writers change their mind on that period of time.

The justice system is not perfect, but I have to believe it is often far more correct than public perception based on limited facts presented by biased sides.

Summary

When I saw that Forbes’ article stated that the MLB has investigated, and closed the issue, I had mixed reviews. Obviously, since it’s my team, I was relieved. And while we will never know all the details, I truly do hope the MLB did the right thing.

To the Red Sox fans, if it did occur, I’m ashamed, and while I find it interesting the outrage considering the fact that they had a similar scandal almost exactly a year ago, I apologize.

The first three games of this series have been a mess. As a baseball fan, it saddens me. We have two of the greatest teams going head to head in a battle, and instead of talking about that, I’m writing this.

I’m hopeful that changes for the remainder of the post season. Can’t we all just get along and enjoy baseball?!

MLB.com

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UPDATE:

MLB released this comment on the matter