After allegations, and new information coming to light. Major League Baseball levied one of the biggest disciplines in the history of the game. This is right alongside the Black Sox scandal, Pete Rose gambling, and the post BALCO congressional hearing world that existed during the steroid era. This was BIG. Suspending a manager with almost 500 wins in his five seasons with the Astros. Suspending a GM who brought the Houston Astros their first title in the fifty six year history of the franchise, these are big stories. Even bigger, after receiving the loss of both their manager and GM for the 2020 season, alongside the forfeiture of their first and second round picks over the next two drafts. The Astros parted ways with both manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow.
So my big question after a day of carnage that will surely reverberate in Boston as they remain entangled in their own sign stealing saga. Was it worth it? Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers said in an ESPN interview “Honestly, we’re curious to see what happens, it sucks, man. We were close, but we did it the right way…. I think it’s gotta come to an end unless it’s gonna be a disaster. I think we have to do something about it.”
The Dodgers the team that lost in 7 to the Astros in 2017 and then lost in 5 to the Red Sox the following year are the team directly impacted by sign stealing. I can tell you the sign stealing was worth it to the Astros who went 8-1 at home during their race to the Commissioner’s Trophy. The Red Sox were a juggernaut in 2018, so who’s to say how much they were assisted by sign stealing and how much was simply the stars aligning? I can tell you who else thinks it was worth it. All the #HoustonStrong activation and emotions that came during their run following the horrific devastation of Hurricane Harvey. A hurricane that caused over $125 Billion in damage to the city, sixty eight casualties, and over 30,000 people were permanently displaced from their homes. So I say again was it worth it?
We all know the amount of passion, energy, love, hate, and fun that goes into being a fan of our favorite sports team. And for those of us lucky enough to be apart of a championship season the emotions are almost indescribable. Especially if your team has had many down years or heartbreaking losses. That’s why we’ve had steroids scandals, cheating, and riding the line of exactly “what is okay”. Moral lines can be blurred after the fact under the prism of societal conventions but, in the moment when your team is doing everything it can to win you aren’t considering the consequences.
As a fan I can tell you I want to win… whatever the cost. Sad but true. When the Cubs won in 2016 we made a trade for Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline that was essentially the final piece to a great team. The Cubs had been steamrolling everyone that year but needed a lockdown closer. Chapman and his 103 mile an hour rocket fastball was a No Brainer and the Yankees were selling off pieces. Sounds legit, only Chapman had been proven to have abused his wife during the 2015 offseason and missed a portion of the 2016 season as he was suspended. I say all of these things because in the moment we could go get him morally my ethics were set to the side. 103 years is a LONG time but 56 years isn’t terribly far behind.
There’s a saying in sports “if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying” and sign stealing has been going on in baseball and football for as long as the games have existed. In basketball NBA teams know each others plays and shift defenses around offensive calls. So I do understand that certain aspects are just apart of gaining a competitive advantage. Unfortunate that the manager and GM had to be sacrificial lambs and their careers may be significantly impacted. But I’ll ask one last time, was it worth it? Ask the millions of fans in Houston who’s lives will forever be tethered to images of victory.