The MLB finished their investigation and punished the Houston Astros Accordingly. But how does this effect the Nationals?
Yesterday MLB commissioner Rob Manfred finally announced his punishment for the Houston Astros after it was revealed that they were involved in a cheating scandal during the 2017 season. He also released to the public his nine page report from the investigation. Jeff Passan of ESPN was the first to break the news in a series of tweets.
The baseball world had been waiting for Manfred to bring down the hammer and to an extent he did. He crippled the Astros farm system which for most of the decade had been a strength. The fine is just a drop in the bucket, but the suspensions are huge. But this was just the beginning. Astros Owner Jim Crane gave a press conference shortly after and started off by firing his Manager and GM. For now Crane will oversee the baseball operations.
Our fellow District on Deck writer, The Jim Rat, wrote a piece yesterday on the Astros punishment and in it he gave his analysis of how the players cheated. He stated, “What the ‘Stros did is significantly different than the gamesmanship involved in picking up a pitchers tell, recognizing catcher signs independently at second base, or identifying an indicator from the third base coach. The Astros used technology to get a unique viewpoint, which no player or coach had on the field. They then relayed information about catcher signals to the hitter in order to tell the batter what pitch was coming in real time. That is the key. I don’t have a problem with teams using technology to their advantage; study pitchers, watch a third base coaches tendencies, whatever; but it can’t happen in real time.”.
But I can’t help but think that the punishment was too lenient. Manfred noted in his report that the players were responsible for the operation, but instead of making an example of them he punished the front office. While both Hinch and Lihnow turned a blind eye, the players as well as current Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, were the major culprits.
Now the punishment for Cora will come out later and it will be extreme. After all, he was apart of two different cheating scandals a year apart. The Boston Red Sox decided not to wait around and fired him. The team tweeted out a statement.
With the managers from the 2017 and 2018 World Series both being fired, it shows that the MLB wants to pin the actions on management. This is a mistake because now the players know that they can get away with future scandals.
Now that we know the players wont be punished for the scandal, this brings up the question how this will affect the other teams. But for the purpose of this article, I will be only looking at how this effects the Nationals.
Well for starters it probably won’t. They beat the Astros fair and square in the World Series. In fact, the team had heard rumblings of what the Astros had been doing and were fully prepared to deal with it in the World Series. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post described how the Nationals prepared for their match up with the Astros. He stated, “Every Nats pitcher was given five sets of signs to indicate his pitches. For example, one finger for a fastball, two for a curve, three for a change-up and so forth. But the Nats went further. Each of their 12 pitchers got five different set of signs. Perhaps in “Sign Set 1” a single finger would mean a slider to Max Scherzer, but the same one finger might mean a change-up to Stephen Strasburg.” When a team has to go to that much trouble to protect their signs, then you know the league has a problem.
Washington signed former Astros reliever, Will Harris in the off-season to a three-year deal. Now even though Harris was in the bullpen for the majority of games when the cheating was going on, he will be under a microscope solely because he was on the Astros during the 2017 season. But even if Harris was aware of what was going on, now that Manfred refrained from punishing the players, nothing will happen to Harris. And no, I am not saying anything should happen to him. Just because he was on the team, doesn’t mean he’s guilty. He was mostly in the bullpen or on the mound, far away from being able to work the cameras to relay the signs. So for the most part, being under increased scrutiny will probably be the brunt of it for Harris. As far as we know, Washington is clean of any scandals and will be unaffected by this punishment. Besides Harris, the Nats did not sign any players or coaches from the 2017 Astros. The team will not be effected by any future scrutiny (besides what Harris will receive) and will be able to focus on defending the title.