What a wild, wild offseason.
Back in November, The Athletic released an in-depth report about how the Houston Astros - winners of the 2017 World Series - were taking a truly modern approach to sign stealing. Houston was using a live feed of the center field camera to determine the pitches that were about to be thrown. A trash can was then banged on in the clubhouse, loud enough to echo onto the field, to alert batters as to what pitches they might be facing.
It was a wild story in which a team took an ago-old baseball tradition (cheating), and multiplied it to a level previously unheard of.
On Monday, MLB concluded their investigation, and came down on the Astros hard. The team has been fined the maximum of $5 million, and will be forced to forfeit draft picks. Manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were suspended a year by the league, and, moments later, fired by the organization.
BREAKING: Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch have been suspended for one year after an MLB investigation found the team used technology to cheat during its World Series-winning 2017 season, sources familiar with the punishment tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
Astros release a statement from AJ Hinch. pic.twitter.com/iFKkWV7eqe— Julia Morales (@JuliaMorales) January 13, 2020
The team is receiving lots of flack - justifiably - but it seems far-fetched to assume that they’re the only organization pushing the boundaries of baseball’s unwritten rules.
In fact, the news had barely broke when MLB veteran Logan Morrison took to Instagram to claim that he’s aware of numerous teams that use technology to steal signs, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom the Astros beat to win their world title. He also pointed out that this has been going on a long time.
The San Francisco Giants have thus far stayed out of the conversation, though that may be due more to being bad than wanting to play fair. At this point, pushing the arbitrary limits of cheating is a baseball right of passage.
So: Were the punishments fair? Should the team be stripped of their title (spoiler: No, they should not)? How would you feel if the Giants were caught doing similarly? Do you think the Giants have done similarly?