Astros' Integrity Issues Present Problem For MLB
In recent weeks, baseball fans have seen some of the greatest names in the game’s great history go on to their eternal reward with such notables as Tom Seaver, Lou Brock and Whitey Ford leaving us.
Just last week, we lost Joe Morgan, the centerpiece of the Cincinnati Reds teams that won consecutive World Series in the 70s and was arguably the best second baseman in history.
Though he became a superstar with the Reds, Morgan spent his formative years in a baseball sense, with the Houston Colt 45s, who became the Astros.
Morgan would not likely have recognized the Astros as presently constituted.
Those Astros of the early 1960s, played the game hard and honestly. The current iteration in Houston, plays hard. Honestly? Well…
After a lot of losing early in the last decade, the Astros began to build a championship-level organization, which, indeed, won a World Series title three years ago.
Their ascension was heralded in most corners of baseball as a tribute to the fusion of determination, talent and intelligence. Only later did we find out that the intelligence displayed by the players and organization was enhanced by chicanery.
As has been documented, the Astros effectively cheated their way to the 2017 world championship and a subsequent postseason appearance the next year.
They did it through a system of high tech surveillance, employing cameras and buzzers and low tech signaling with banging of trash cans.
The deception came to light through disclosure by former Houston players to publications, which forced a reluctant Major League Baseball brass to investigate.
When the investigation settled, manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended from baseball for a year and fired by the Astros.
A former Houston coach and a former player who got managing jobs with other teams were fired and the Astros were fined $5 million and docked draft choices.
For some, those seemed like heavy punishments. For many, however, it appeared the Astros got away with a slap on the collective wrist.
They got to keep their 2017 trophy and none of the current players were punished, despite clear evidence that a number of them had participated.
Even worse, because baseball was played this year without spectators, the Astros largely avoided the kind of harsh public judgment that they would have deserved by going from city to city and catching hell from fans.
Indeed, many believe the Astros further avoided cosmic retribution by making the postseason this year, rather than wallowing in the mud they created.
The Astros, who advanced to the World Series last year, got to the seventh and deciding game of the American League Championship Series this year.
After losing the first three games of the series to Tampa Bay, Houston brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth Saturday before losing to the Rays.
Ultimately, justice prevailed and the Astros lost, proving, perhaps, that the baseball gods, a club of which Joe Morgan sadly now belongs, can only be mocked for so long.
And that’s how I see it for this week. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.
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