As you probably know by now, the Houston Astros are being investigated for cheating right now. They would use a camera to steal catcher signs from their opponent, then relay the information to someone outside the dugout. That person would bang on a trash can to signal to Astros batters what pitch was coming next.
I have mixed feelings about this whole scandal as a Mariners fan. On one hand, it’s a somewhat painful to know that the Mariners potentially could have made the playoffs if they didn’t have to deal with a superteam that also cheated in a major way. What if, instead of being a 100-win juggernaut every season, the Astros were just a regular good team. I’m sure Jerry Dipoto would be more aggressive. Maybe the Mariners swing a huge trade at the 2017 deadline and make a serious run at the AL West crown. Perhaps a certain Japanese star takes his talents to Seattle instead of Disneyland after seeing the impressive performance of the Mariners.
On the other hand, do you really think the Mariners would make the playoffs anyways? Let’s be real here. This is the Seattle Mariners we are talking about. The Astros would still likely win over 90 games every year, and even if they failed to win the division, the A’s would take their place. So, what does this massive cheating scheme mean and why is it good for the Mariners?
Oh, you probably know where I’m going from the title. I want to see the Astros receive a punishment of unprecedented proportions. The New England Patriots have been stripped of multiple first-round draft picks for cheating. Donald Sterling was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after making racist comments. Sean Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season as punishment for Bountygate. You know what Rob Manfred needs to do? A combination of all of the above.
Forfeiture of several early-round draft picks sounds like a good start. It would certainly send a good message. Teams might not want to risk losing multiple waves of prospects. However, the Astros must have considered the potential consequences. Losing draft picks is a typical punishment for a team’s cheating. Taking away the first few rounds of multiple drafts isn’t enough. Commissioner Manfred should take at least three entire drafts away from the Astros. That should teach them.
But I’m not sure that’s a harsh enough punishment on the Astros. This is a team that is known for finding undervalued players, and I’m sure they could pick out the best undrafted players and eventually put together a decent squad. And besides, the Astros can always sign free agents, and I don’t know how MLB could prevent them from doing so.
How could Manfred cripple the Astros more effectively? Don’t go for the throat, go for the brains. Jeff Luhnow, AJ Hinch, and everyone else involved in the sign-stealing scandal are now banned for life. If that seems too harsh, I’ll have you know that former Braves general manager John Coppolella received a lifetime ban for international signing violations. What the Astros did was far worse. Just hit the entire Astros front office with a ban. Lower-level employees will receive only temporary bans. Even if they can prove their innocence, suspend them anyways just for good measure.
To add on, Jim Crane should obviously have to sell the team. 80 percent of the sale should be used to create an anti-cheating commission, so that Crane will lose money in the transaction and to ensure that cheating will never occur again in the sport of baseball. I don’t care if it’s not legal. Show some guts and do it anyways, Manfred.
There is still more to be done. How about public humiliation? All banners at Minute Maid Park must be removed and a sign that says “We won the World Series in 2017 but it doesn’t actually count because we were massive cheaters” will be installed above the Crawford Boxes. An extra “s” will be placed before the “t” in the team’s name for five years.
You could also send the Astros back to the NL Central, where they would have to face the Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, and Reds. Sure, those teams would have to compete with another team in the division, but it wouldn’t be much of a competition if the Astros returned to their old home without a front office and multiple drafts. I’m sure those other teams would be happy to have several free wins every year. Speaking of free wins, the Pirates still exist, so maybe this wouldn’t be a great punishment after all.
We need something even stronger. Why not just end the Astros franchise entirely? Just hold a dispersal draft of all the players and end the Astros for good. That’s what Rob Manfred needs to do.