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Cheating comes at a price for the Houston Astros

Not only were there fines and suspensions, but also lingering questions about 2017 World Series win.

Astros second baseman José Altuve, shown in the 2019 World Series, played for Houston in 2017, when the team stole signals from opposing catchers, according to a Major League Baseball report. Two team officials were suspended and the team lost its top two draft picks for this year and next. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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This week, local baseball fans received the best news since the Washington Nationals won the World Series.

An investigation by Major League Baseball (MLB) found the Houston Astros had cheated during the 2017 season and playoffs, as well as part of the 2018 season. As a result, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred handed the Astros a big punishment.

Good. It’s time to get cheaters out of sports.

The investigation found the Astros used cameras and video equipment during games at their ballpark to steal the signs their opponents’ catchers gave their pitchers. Astros players then signaled their teammate in the batter’s box whether the next pitch was going to be a breaking ball or fastball by banging on a trash can in the dugout.

This illegal sign-stealing system may have helped the Astros win 101 games during the 2017 regular season and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series that year.

The commissioner fined the Astros $5 million and took away their first two picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB drafts. He also suspended Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one year.

The Astros’ owner, Jim Crane, who did not appear to know about the cheating, went further. He fired Hinch and Luhnow. Crane, however, said the scandal should not “taint” the Astros’ 2017 World Series win (the Astros did much better in their own park during the 2017 playoffs).

Sorry, but that isn’t how things work. It’s good for kids to remember that when you cheat or do the wrong thing, you don’t get to decide the punishment. Part of the punishment, fair or unfair, for the Astros players and coaches may be that baseball fans will always remember the Houston World Series win and think, “Yeah, but they cheated.”

And what about the players on the 2017 team, such as José Altuve and George Springer? Shouldn’t they be fined or suspended? After all, they were willing to receive the stolen information or pass it along to their teammates.

Some players said they would have stopped if their manager had asked them. But that’s not an excuse or a good example for young fans. Shouldn’t the players have had the character to do the right thing without being told?

One more idea young fans should remember: Watch out for people who dismiss scandals such as the Astros’ by saying, “Everyone cheats in sports.” That’s sad, because it seems to me that people who say that have given up on trying to do the right thing.

A few athletes and coaches cheat, but most play fair. Now the MLB investigation may move on to the 2018 Boston Red Sox. (Manfred found that Red Sox manager Alex Cora took part in the sign-stealing scheme when he was with the Astros. Cora left his job with the Red Sox on Tuesday.)

Even this lifelong Red Sox fan thinks that’s great. It’s time to get the cheaters out of sports.

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