Astros tarnish recent successes in wake of cheating scandal


Roy Luck | FlickrThe Astros have had unprecedented success recently, however, much of that success may be remembered with an asterisk.

Isaiah Hinton

Slowly but surely, the Houston Astros are turning into the most hated franchise in Major League Baseball. Houston, once the laughing stock of the American game, became the archetype for developing a winning team and culture “the right way.” 

Drafting franchise cornerstones, developing talent in the minors and incorporating patience throughout the process. Then, after identifying the home-grown superstars and allowing them to flourish, the Astros’ surrounded them with veterans. 

These veterans, such as staff ace Justin Verlander, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, brought years of Major League experience and guile to pass on to the younger guys. Players such as Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were ever present through the Astros’ transformation from bottom-feeder to World Series Champion and are testaments to the time and effort the baseball club of H-Town put into the process.

However, the Astros have gone from the golden boys of baseball to villains, especially in the course of the previous month. After winning their American League Division Series matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays, Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman celebrated by boasting to reporters about their closer, Roberto Osuna. 

The problem with this exultation was that many of the journalists in the room were female and Osuna is a known domestic abuser. 

Although this incident has no effect on the play on the diamond, it is indicative of the Astros’ willingness to let a player who was charged with assault and who served a 75-game suspension for violation of the MLB domestic violence policy not only fill a spot on the active roster, but to become an integral part of their bullpen. 

Not only is it unsettling but as one of the marquee teams in the Majors, the Astros’ willingness to play Osuna is a damning statement on their culture and values. 

To having winning as a paramount priority is a trait of all major teams, not only in baseball, but in all sports. However, placing winning above morality and conscience is where most teams draw the line. 

The line for the Astros is blurry, made evermore so by their recent allegation and admission of stealing signs using technology.

To give some background, stealing signs is a process in which an opposition player figures out what type of pitch the pitcher will be throwing based on the catcher’s signs used for previous pitches. 

Stealing signs is an unwritten aspect of the game that is meant to reward players who pay attention to pitches and go beyond the “regular call of duty” of a batter. When done correctly, it gives batters a crucial advantage. 

However, the Astros went above the norm by allegedly using technology to steal signs, according to former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers. 

During the 2017 season, a camera was set up in center-field, which was then relayed to a monitor where someone deciphers the catcher’s signs. Once deciphered, a garbage can was banged to let hitters know about the incoming pitch. 

These allegations were seemingly confirmed by other players weighing in on the noises coming from the Astros dugout and dedicated internet sleuths such as Jomboy. 

In addition, an email that was sent from the Special Assistant to the General Manager, Jeff Lunhow, asking scouts to spy on opposing teams prior to the 2017 postseason, using cameras if necessary, seems to confirm intent. 

From this monumental allegation came a flurry of reactions from MLB players and fans ranging from simple statements about the state of the game to outright disgust. 

When asked about the scandal, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre stated how “[he] always want[s] the ability on the field to determine who the winner is, and I just don’t think it’s a level playing field and it’s good for our game.” 

While Torre was level-headed, other executives want blood. One National League general manager was adamant, saying “They’ve
been cheating, they are still cheating, and it’s time MLB puts a stop to it.” 

However, the decision ultimately lies with the commissioner, Rob Manfred, who has been on the record promising a thorough investigation. 

When all is said and done, the reputation of the Houston Astros will be tarnished for a long time. 

Already, the Astros are receiving unprecedented levels of vitriol. There are still many questions that have yet to be answered. 

Either way, the court of public opinion has ruled that the Astros’ legacy will have an asterisk for the foreseeable future.