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The Test of Fanship: Baseball Scandals

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Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

I want to start off noting this is all an opinion piece, and I’m not claiming to speak for all of TCB - just something that’s been on my mind that I think will hopefully start a lot of discussion among our community.

Since I was a kid, I’ve LOVED baseball, and the Astros in particular. This past year has been a true test of being a fan of baseball. I don’t know if it was due to writing about it, you end up follow every detail a lot closer - or if it’s actually just been the worst I’ve ever seen.

I’m not an expert on a lot of the issues/scandals that have arisen, nor am I claiming that any of the allegations are true or false, simply looking at the issues that have arisen in 2019.

Tyler Skaggs Death

Tyler Skaggs tragically died. And it came out that a staff member of the Angels was supplying drugs to him, and said there were 5 other players addicted to opiates that he was also supplying. At first I felt like this was swept under the rug, but with the DEA investigating the Angels, it made sense that the MLB couldn’t discuss it a lot. With that said, when’s the last time we heard someone talk about this.... a 27 year old died.

Save America’s Past-Time Act

Earlier this year, the MLB pushed the Save America’s Past-Time Act, getting congress to buy in on it - keeping minor league players playing in poverty. A lot of people think of the first round draft picks and think along the lines of “well they already got paid”. But that’s simply not the case for 99% of the players in the minor leagues. I wrote an article on it as I felt it was an important topic and was largely swept under the rug.

But baseball pressed on.

Extending Netting

It felt like there was a sudden outbreak of fans getting hit by foul balls. With the incident that occurred at Minute Maid Park, it struck close to home. And while the world was seemingly divided into people asking for nets and others blaming the parents. Recent news broke that the young girl at the Astros game suffered permanent brain damage. There was some resolution with the MLB extending netting at all 30 stadiums.

The Taubman incident

The Taubman incident was a massive failure from the Astros PR department. We took a ton of criticism for not reporting it immediately. We wanted to wait to gather all the facts as it was hard to believe that the Astros PR department could possibly blow it so badly. A disgraceful moment in baseball and Astros history.

GM Admits Collusion?

After a very strange off-season last year that caused people to start claiming collusion, the Braves GM Alex Anthopolus made a statement that read a lot like admitting to collusion. He made a statement that he misspoke. The MLBPA called for an official investigation, and the fact that the MLB owners have previously colluded definitely hurts the credibility.

Yankees decide not to pay out the remainder of Ellsbury’s contract

The Yankees broke Ellsbury’s contract, denying him the last $26 Million claiming he voided the deal by receiving unauthorized medical treatment. Ellsbury has filed a formal grievance.

Other Contract Issues

There’s also a weird situation with a reduced contract for Yoenis Cespede due to a broken ankle from his run in with a wild boar. This issue seemed to be open and closed but it was the first time I’ve seen money change to be non-guaranteed.

Kris Bryant’s case in regards to being held down due to club control came back to life. It was officially going to be heard the week of October 23, 2019. Doing research as of today, it seems there still has been no announcement or resolution.

Elimination of the Minor Leagues

Manfred proposed the elimination of 42 Minor League teams and a reduction to the number of players within an organization to 150. It was also rumored of eliminating affiliation with the minors all together. Since then, 100+ members of congress sent a letter to the MLB threatening to remove their anti-trust exemption if they pulled the trigger on this.

The Cheating Scandal

The bane of every Astros’ fans existence over the past few months. The initial reports came out that the Astros were using a camera installed for the sole purpose of stealing signs. Amazingly, the initial report stated it was a wide spread problem among teams but Manfred found no reason to believe it extended past the Astros. The internet went wild - almost to an enjoyable extent with the ridiculous ways people claimed the Astros were relaying stolen signs. As the MLB gets “close” to finishing their investigation into the Astros - the news broke about the Red Sox. What’s interesting, is numerous clubs have been cited for using technology to steal and relay signs - but the MLB keeps trying to brush it under the rug.

I’d understand the argument that I’m biased because a few of the incidents were directly in the Astros club house, but I’ll be honest those are some of the least of my worries. I’m not downplaying the severity of cheating, or Taubman being an asshole, don’t get me wrong - but there was a lot bigger issues at play this year.

A player died this year on an overdose that a staff member of the team admitted to supplying him and others on the team. There was an active fight to not pay minor league players minimum wage. The commissioner talked about eliminating 42 teams then talked about eliminating the association all together! And I’m sure I missed some on this list I just put together off memory.

This article isn’t meant to claim that

Scandals have always been a thing in baseball, and the MLB has seemingly messed up every time they were presented with one. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but this year seems exceptionally bad. While I’ve always understood that baseball is a business and never had any illusions otherwise, this year it seems to have me questioning what I’m supporting.

What are your thoughts? Has this year been different to you? Has it changed how you feel about baseball at all?