By Billy Lewis:
The Houston Astros have been the American League representative in two of the past three World Series. They won their franchise’s first World Championship in 2017. Just a couple of weeks after losing the 2019 World Series to the Washington Nationals, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich published an Article damning the Astros. The story published on November 12th, in the Athletic detailed how the Astros electronically stole signs during their 2017 Championship season.
Two months later MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, handing out the penalties.
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
Along with the suspension of Hinch and Luhnow, Manfred also fined the Astros $5 million. Manfred also took away both first and second-round draft picks for 2020 and 2021.
Astros Taking Matters Internally
Astros owner, Jim Crane, decided to take the punishment one step further. Crane fired both Hinch and Luhnow shortly after the announcement of Manfred’s punishment.
The firing of Hinch and Luhnow felt like a reactionary move by Crane. Since November, the sign-stealing scandal has been well known. Twitter user Jomboy (@Jomboy_) helped bring the scandal into light with his viral breakdown video.
If Crane intended to fire Hinch and Luhnow, shortly after the article and breakdown would have been the best time to do so. By sitting back it feels as though Crane is trying to keep the blame on both Hinch and Luhnow and clear the Astros name.
While it would be expected for the owner of a team to try to paint his team in the best light, the damage has been done for the Astros. Crane would like you to believe the 2017 Championship is not tainted. However, opposing fans will see the 2017 Championship with an asterisk beside it.
More to Come
Two of the big contributors to the electronic set-up are no longer with the Astros. Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran were both believed to big orchestrators of the scheme. Cora was bench coach at the time, Beltran was in his final season as a player.
Beltran was named the New York Mets Manager on November 1st. Luckily for both the Mets and Beltran, being a player during the scandal will be a saving grace. Players involved in the sign-stealing are not expected to be punished at this time.
The Boston Red Sox named Cora manager prior to the 2018 season. Following the 2017 Astros scandal, a report from a week ago stated the Red Sox stole signs using their replay room in 2018. The Red Sox were warned in 2017, after an Apple Watch incident, to not use electronics to steal signs.
Of course, the Red Sox were also historically good in 2018. They won 108 games, which was the most in franchise history. Boston capped off 2018 with a World Series Championship.
Manfred will wait to punish Cora until he completes his investigation into allegations against the Red Sox. It is believed Cora’s punishment will be stronger than that of Hinch and Luhnow. Will Red Sox owner, John Henry, get ahead of the scandal and fire Cora? I’d bet he takes Crane’s approach and waits to see what Manfred does.