MLB Cheating Scandal

Two weeks ago, Major League Baseball (MLB) dealt the Houston Astros a historic punishment, following a league-conducted investigation into the team’s alleged use of technology to cheat by “stealing signs” in 2017, its championship season.

Two weeks ago, Major League Baseball (MLB) dealt the Houston Astros a historic punishment, following a league-conducted investigation into the team’s alleged use of technology to cheat by “stealing signs” in 2017, its championship season. Stealing signs includes any illegal use of technology to predict what pitches a pitcher is about to throw, including but not limited to setting up recording equipment, analyzing certain pitchers’ tells in film rooms, and wearing buzzers in game. These abuses of technology all undermine the game’s authenticity and legitimacy. After the league announced one-year suspensions for Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch, removal of 2020 and 2021 draft picks, and a $5 million fine, it shifted its focus now on investigating another potential cheater: the Boston Red Sox, who have just parted ways with its manager, Alex Cora, who was the Astros’ bench coach in 2017.

Similar to recent scandals in sports history, such as Spygate and the Louisville Escort Scandal, these major transgressions will have a serious impact on the MLB going forward and the sports world as a whole. The MLB has mentioned introducing new security measures across baseball stadiums nationwide to ensure no other team has the audacity to attempt to use technology to cheat in any way again. It is notable to mention, however, that by levying such a drastic penalty on the Astros, the MLB is showing that it isn’t tolerating dishonesty. This outrageous malfeasance has also left its mark on players throughout the league. Yu Darvish, who is currently a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their 2017 and 2018 World Series losses. Darvish infamously went from pitching a 3.44 earned run average (ERA), the average of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched, in nine starts for the Dodgers during the regular season to 21.60 in the World Series. This completely rocked his self-confidence, convincing him that he was tipping pitches when in fact he was not, and led to his decision to sign for less money with the Chicago Cubs in the offseason because he felt that he let the Dodgers down. Darvish’s case illustrates how the Astros’ cheating can have disastrous effects such as the derailing of a promising career.

This is exactly the right attitude the MLB should hold against teams whose unethical shortcuts and transgressions undermine the value of skill in the game. To clarify, reading tells is not an inherently bad thing. If a batter has the acumen to notice, in-game, how the opposing pitcher inadvertently hints at the upcoming pitch, that is a positive thing for the sport. It forces pitchers to perfect their skills and breeds batters with strong knowledge of the game. However, what the Astros have allegedly done is unacceptable. Technology should be kept out of the sport in this way because it takes away the pitcher’s power to be unpredictable with his next pitch. If batters use technology in this way, then they’ll know exactly where pitches are coming, which pitches to swing at, and which pitches to let go.

After the suspensions of both Luhnow and Hinch, owner Jim Crane rightfully fired both of them. In addition to the Red Sox, the New York Mets also fired their new manager Carlos Beltran, a former Astros player. This is precisely the attitude individual teams should have against cheating in the sport of baseball to ensure executives do not think they can get away with it going forward. While league commissioner Rob Manfred has decided against stripping the Red Sox or Astros of their titles, these teams do not deserve to go down in baseball and world history as champions if they won illegitimately. Going forward, the MLB needs to establish that it has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to ruining the game’s integrity.