With spring training now in full swing, more and more players from around the league and all of baseball are making their opinions known, expressing disappointment to anger. In recent days it appears that anger is the prevalent feeling. Yesterday New York Yankee Gleyber Torres said that he believed that the Houston Astros were cheating in 2018 and 2019 as well. The anger among many players has been festering throughout the postseason, and now that baseball is active again, more and more sentiment is being expressed, and it’s not nice.
Commission Manfred didn’t go far enough!
Everyone in baseball knew that the Astros would have a challenging time playing in the ballparks around the country after it was detailed by Commissioner Rob Manfred back on January 15th, that the Astros used illegal electronic equipment and other signals to give Astro players the advantage of knowing what pitches may be coming. Manfred issued punishments for the scheme, suspending the Astros General Manager and Field Manager A.J. Hinch for one year, (both were fired) fining the Astros $5MM the league limit and taking away their first and second-round draft picks for 2020 and 2021. But now some players and fans alike believe that certain players should have been punished and that the Astro should have been stripped of the 2017 World Series title.
Anger builds against the Astros
It appears that anger toward the Astros is building rather than subsiding, so much so that Manfred has stated that he is now worried that pitchers around baseball may take retaliatory measures when facing the Astros, i.e. plunking Astro players, particularly Jose Altuve and Alex Correa. Rob Manfred says he will not stand for vigilante justice against the Houston Astros. “I hope that I made it extremely clear to them that retaliation in-game by throwing at a batter intentionally will not be tolerated, whether it’s Houston or anybody else,” Manfred added “It’s dangerous, and it is not helpful to the current situation.” He suggested that players that take part in these actions against the Astros will be punished. The fact that those that retaliate will be punished, but the Astros players are still not punished further infuriates fans and players alike.
Yankee players speak out
Many New York Yankees have now let the world know how they feel, from retired pitcher CC Sabathia showing extreme anger in an expletive-laced statement against the Astros to pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, Adam Ottavino, Gary Sanchez and more. Yesterday Gleyber Torres unloaded on the Astros, claiming that once they got away with stealing the title in 2017, they kept it up in 2018 and 2019.
“For sure. If you cheated in 2017 and you won, why you don’t (you) do (it) the next year, and the next year too! I’ll use an example if I play video games with you, and we face the TV, and I see your controller and I know what is coming, and I hit really well, and I win, if you tell me we play again, I’ll do the same thing because I win. So (the Astros) did in ’17 for sure, they did in ’18 and they do ’19. It’s really easy.”
It’s not just the Yankees either, players from around the league have and are expressing their frustration over how they may have been created in games played against the Astros. Players, particularly from the Lost Angles Dodgers who lost the World Series to the Astros in 2017, have made it clear that they are not happy with the Astros and the punishments that were issued. In just another example of the anger around baseball, Mike Clevenger of the Cleveland Indians said: “To each their own. But I’m not going and just be quiet about someone blatantly taking millions of dollars and food off my table and other people’s tables.” He went on to say that the MBL has been too lenient with the Astros: “You want to protect the guy next to you? You want to protect the sanctity of baseball?” Clevinger said. “It’s not giving (a) $5 million (fine) to a $1 billion corporation while they’re walking around with the same ring on their finger in the same uniform, the same city, and the same contract. What’s that really going to change?”
Relinquish the 2017 title now!
Many in baseball think the only saving grace for the Astros is to relinquish the title voluntarily or face the consequences even if it’s only being booed in every park they visit in the upcoming season. Luckily the Astros will have to wait until September to avoid the wrath of Yankee fans at Yankee Stadium. Commissioner Manfred knows he is under the gun and is walking a fine line trying to appease fans but, at the same time, avoid dangerous situations where Astros players are put in harm’s way. He has said that he has taken steps to reduce the use of cameras and monitors around baseball. “I think it’s really important for us to send a message to our fans that not only did we investigate and punish, but we altered our policies in a way that will help make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Only time will tell if this continues to escalate or if the actual playing of the game will let this injustice settle into the past. This writer’s opinion is that it will get worse before it gets better. Many fans and players alike feel the Astros really aren’t sorry; they are only sorry that they got caught as expressed by their postseason silence and only half-hearted recent apology. Manfred will meet today with owners and managers of baseball in Florida.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish summed up the feelings across baseball. “It’s like the Olympics,” Darvish said: “When a player cheats, you can’t have a gold medal, right? But they still have a World Series title. It [feels] weird.” (referring to the effect on individual players stats), Darvish also said: “Some people lost their job. They have to show more apology. I don’t feel anything from those guys.”