Houston, we have a problem… that doesn’t have anything to do with space. The Astros are at the center of it, and there was a camera in center field to catch signs, though the signs were seen a lot earlier than people realized. All someone has to do to figure it out is listen to any Astros broadcast spanning back the last nearly three years, and you’ll hear it. One bang slider, two bangs changeup, and the “Houston Asterisks” memes have been rolling.
The problem with scandals like this, though, is that it’s never just the team that gets caught that does it. The bench coach for those 2017 Astros won the World Series the next year with the Red Sox, so heads are flying, and all of them have been fired. Carlos Beltran, gone before he managed a game for the Mets, Alex Cora, fired from the Red Sox, and an MLB investigation into the matter is ongoing.
Regardless of the final outcome, MLB forced Houston to give up its first and second round draft picks for the next two years, casting the franchise’s future into shadow. At least they’ll get to keep their World Series title, as Major League Baseball is the only major sports league in the world that doesn’t force teams to vacate titles or wins if it’s discovered that they’ve cheated.
What makes it worse is that the team’s owner, Jim Landry, claims he didn’t know anything about the scheme, nothing at all, and while there’s nothing to prove him wrong and cast him as a liar, it does seem suspicious.
The 2017 Astros won the World Series after going 101 and 61 in the regular season, the best record in MLB. They steamrolled the competition, quite literally, rolling along to win the World Series in seven games over the Los Angeles Dodgers. This past year, Astros fell in seven games to the Washington Nationals. A few weeks later, the Athletic broke the story of Houston stealing signs, and the baseball world exploded.
It’s not that stealing signs, in and of itself, is illegal, in fact, it’s expected, it’s part of the game, it’s strategy. What is illegal is using electronics to steal signs (like the Apple Watch controversy in 2018), and the Astros had a camera in center field to help them do just that.
As a result, the baseball world is full of sharks swimming for blood. Whether or not the Astros’ actions will have a larger impact on the baseball world still remains to be seen, but there’s one thing that’s for sure, that every action has a consequence, and the Astros (or Asterisks, as the term seems to be) still have yet to feel the true impact of their actions. Whether they will or not is still unknown, but the scandal has brought their cheating to light, and, as the team claims, they’re not the only ones stealing signs electronically. For now, though, they stand as the sole team accused, and whether the title is revoked or not, there’s always going to be an asterisk next to it, in the mind of the baseball world.
Is that fair? Maybe, maybe not, but Houston has its fair share of problems, and the blowback is going to hurt.