MLB Should Ban The Team From Post-Season Play
The Houston Astros have been fined, lost first- and second-round draft picks and the manager and general manager have been fired by the owner.
But that’s not enough of a punishment for the team that used surveillance cameras to steal signs when it won the World Series in 2017.
That’s cheating. And Major League Baseball has hardly knocked it out of the park when handing down its punishment. Instead, it bunted. What it should do is punish the team the way the NCAA punishes college football and basketball teams when they cheat: put them on probation.
Colleges are given bowl bans and that’s just what MLB should do with the Astros: ban them from the postseason.
Sure, it’s a radical idea that will never happen – it renders the regular season meaningless that that would cost the team millions in revenue from fans not following the team and not showing up to games – but it sure would send a message to the team owners, players and management.
It would also slam on the brakes to any other team that might be thinking it could do the same. After all, the Astros won the World Series and pretty much got away with cheating. And going beyond a post-season ban, MLB should pull a Reggie Bush and require the Astros to take down all banners and signs from the 2017 World Series and return the trophy.
GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch have been fired from the team and suspended for one year by MLB. The team was given a $5 million fine and the loss of their first- and second-round draft picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
While $5 million sounds like a lot, consider the fact that Forbes valued the team at $1.8 billion last year. So $5 million is like change in their sofa cushions.
The loss of draft picks could prove to be significant – MLB’s equivalent of stripping a college team of scholarships – but with free agency and trades it’s hardly as significant. A loss of scholarships affects college teams for years.
The most baffling part about this process is why the Astros even did this in the first place. The team was good enough to win the championship without stealing signs. The simple answer has to be because they could do it.
By putting in the type of penalties that colleges face, MLB would throw out any future attempts at cheating like a runner caught stealing a base.