Before I begin let me point out that I’m already on the record as saying that sign stealing should not be illegal and that given technology it’s not worth trying to ban it. The best solution is to make it completely legal and raise the mound to give pitchers the edge.
That being said I’m in the distinct minority as the outrage over the lack of punishment for the players on the Houston Astros vs their manager, and GM and even former bench coach Alex Cora has reached the point where silent Mike Trout, arguably the best player in the game over the last five years has spoken out.
“It’s sad for baseball,” Trout said. “It’s tough. They cheated. I don’t agree with the punishments, the players not getting anything. It was a player-driven thing. It sucks, too, because guys’ careers have been affected, a lot of people lost jobs. It was tough. Me going up to the plate knowing what was coming — it would be pretty fun up there.”
“I lost some respect for some guys,” Trout said. “… All the stuff coming out, it’s tough to see.”
I must admit all I can think of when I read this is what people used to say about facing legendary fastball pitcher Walter Johnson: “You knew what was coming but so what?” but I digress.
People think that the World Series should be taken away but I disagree. The seven games were played (four of them in LA) and the results were the results. I don’t believe in rewriting history.
But I do see the point that the players who actually cheated are getting away Scott free so I have a simple suggestion.
As a punishment for their cheating I would require any player on the Houston Astros 2017 season who was on the roster prior to the September call-ups to wear a negative number on their uniform.
This has several advantages
- It punishes specifically the players actually involved in the scandal, not others who have joined the team later on and might get tarred.
- It’s a punishment that can follow a player to whatever team he is on.
- It provides a strong negative incentive for future players to avoid cheating in the future.
- It doesn’t punish the scouts or the fans or the lower levels of the organisation that had nothing to do with said scandal.
- It is a sanction that while embarrassing doesn’t impede a players ability to make a living. He can still be signed by anyone, play for anyone.
- It is an incentive for a sanctioned player to work harder. If I was made to do such a thing I’d bust my butt to put up numbers to prove that I didn’t need that edge to produce.
- It would actually create interest in the production of said players and thus interest in the game
- Finally it’s a sanction that can be lifted from individual players based on the judgement of the Commissioner’s office.
Frankly I think this is a punishment that would be a great standard punishment for those who cheat in any sport across the board.
If MLB and the players union want to get beyond this scandal I submit and suggest my solution is the best one out there.
I still think they should raise the mound anyway.