Will MLB’s punishments prevent further sign-stealing?

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Carlos Correa seems to be the only Astro who will willingly give in to his understanding of the situation. He acknowledges its severity, and he admits to their wrongdoing. He’s the spokesperson for the pathetic apology tour, that initiated with a squalid press conference that saw Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve speak for a combined one minute and twenty-five seconds, which in itself hasn’t done any justice to the Astros name.

While the lack of responsibility on the Houston side can be targeted for this, Major League Baseball’s paucity of a suitable punishment to those involved in the cheating, lying, deceiving, and victimizing of the sport and its entirety is the primary culprit. Without proper sanction, the individuals associated won’t feel pity for their actions. This can be said about Astros owner Jim Crane, who stated, “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game.”

Fifty-five seconds later, when his reasoning was questioned, Crane rashly responded, “I didn’t say it didn’t impact the game.” His attempt at calming the storm of questions was unsuccessful, and maybe if Manfred and co. had handed out more severe reprehensions, then Crane, Bregman, and Altuve would have been sincere rather than scripted.

In his nine-page report, Manfred stated his commands. The Astros were to pay the Major League maximum fine of five million dollars, forfeit four early selections in the 2020 and 2021 drafts, and manager A.J. Hinch, GM Jeff Luhnow, and former executive Brandon Taubman were to be suspended for the entirety of the 2020 season. The penalties issued are weak, simply put. They don’t reflect the severity of cheating your way through an entire season, the playoffs, and even further doing so in the following 2 seasons. They don’t accurately punish those responsible for derailing many major leaguer’s careers, and falsely giving information in order to get their way when making trades with other ballclubs.

The effects of banging a trash can, using “codebreaker”, and other forms of illegal advantages branch out much farther than just in games, and Manfred’s statement doesn’t buy into that notion.

So if the external interactions taken by the Astros organizations don’t illustrate a sense of regret or mercy, how can we be sure that the rest of the league won’t follow in suit? Clearly, it is fairly easy to get away with using illegal technology to better your team, otherwise this plethora of news would have come much earlier. Especially given the weak trials that followed, who’s to say other teams might not try out cheating for themselves?

While a lot of players have come out speaking on the topic, revealing how disgusted and irritated they are, Manfred hasn’t left teams and players frightened to ever venture into the universe of monitors and trash cans. All that’s been said in these early days of spring training is the persistence that players have to throw beanballs at Astros hitters as they face them throughout the season.

As has been said before, the players were the ones who devised the scheme, laying out a plan that would damage the look of the organization forevermore. Without them being punished, the whole situation looks insignificant. The players don’t learn their lesson. This doesn’t signify the end of illegal usage of technology, and you can blame Rob Manfred and his investigational team for that.

If swindling your way to a World Series doesn’t signal significant penalty from the league, then what does? If Manfred wants to stay true to his belief that what occurred in 2017 was wrong, then he should rethink the way he handled the situation.

Featured photo via: Michael Reaves / Getty Images

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