MLB lets one group slide when doling out punishment to Astros: the actual players
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred handed down such severe punishment on Monday afternoon to Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow that within an hour or so both had the word “former” attached to their job titles.
This was only right, since Hinch was aware of the scheme to illegally steal signs during the 2017 season and did nothing about it, other than to show his disdain for the scheme by damaging a couple of video monitors.
Talk about passive-aggressive.
Hinch proved it again by not actually ordering those under his supervision to stop cheating. Even though Manfred and others in the MLB office had issued directives against using various forms of technology to cheat.
And since Luhnow should have known about the activity and put a stop to it, he deserved the suspension, too.
They were each suspended for the 2020 season, then fired by owner Jim Crane a short time later.
Former bench coach Alex Cora, now the Boston Red Sox manager, likely will face even more severe punishment since the MLB investigation found that he helped players direct and improve upon the scheme.
But one significant part of the Astros team avoided punishment: the players.
Carlos Beltran was a member of the 2017 Astros team that won the World Series. (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports)
That's a bit of a surprise because according to the commissioner’s statement on Monday, “witnesses consistently describe this scheme as player-driven.”
Yet, the players are the only ones directly involved in the scheme who get to carry on with their careers unimpeded.
The reason? The cheating was too pervasive, involved too many of them, and some may have thought their conduct was condoned and encouraged by the club, Manfred wrote in his statement.
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Besides, many of the players are now with other teams.
“Many of the players who were interviewed admitted that they knew the scheme was wrong, because it crossed the line from what the player believed was fair competition and/or violated rules,” the statement reads.
Manfred and the MLB clearly didn’t want the investigation to grow tentacles and investigate everyone who donned an Astros uniform that year. That makes some sense, I guess. There's a difference between a serial cheater and who lives life by the credo that cheatin' equals tryin'.
But also, if they can investigate deep enough to find out that Cora was the coach who encouraged and facilitated the scheme, couldn’t they also find out out his counterparts were among the players?
Manfred’s nine-page statement mentions only one player, Carlos Beltran.
But Manfred and others in baseball apparently determined that was going to be either fruitless or maybe result in a witch hunt. Or, more likely, that doing so was going to take a lot more time. Better to end it now, before the season started.
By punishing the Astros, Hinch, Luhnow and Cora (probably soon) severely, Manfred sent a message to managers and executives across the league that his directives are not to be ignored.
The players, meanwhile, received a free pass.
Reach Somers at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @kentsomers
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