The Houston Astros are beginning to pay the price

Josh Bell, Courier Staff

This past weekend marked the beginning of the 2020 MLB season. Many clubs began play on Saturday, while some began spring training play Friday.

As many baseball fans are aware, one of the biggest cheating scandals in baseball history was exposed this past off-season. The Houston Astros were accused of cheating. They were said to be using a camera in centerfield at their home ballpark, Minute Maid Park, to receive signs from the opposing team’s catcher to relay to their hitters using banging noises.

Many people became aware of the incident when former Astros and current Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers had announced that the team used video technology to steal signs on their way to win the 2017 World Series Title. Although Fiers blew the whistle on the scandal, the Oakland A’s had submitted a claim to the MLB accusing the Astros of cheating. The Astros were punished by the MLB as they posted their top two picks for the next two seasons and their head coach AJ Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow were handed a year long ban from the MLB. They were both fired by the Astros following the suspensions and the team also had to pay a $5 million fine. Former bench coaches, Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora also lost their managerial positions with the Mets and Red Sox after being named to having a major part in the scandal by Major League Baseball.

Many players, coaches and people around baseball, both current and former, have expressed their opinions on the scandal. Former Yankees legend and current part owner Derek Jeter called the scandal “a black eye to the sport” yesterday.

The Astros players and staff members involved in the scandal apologized throughout the month of February.

“We are ALL responsible. Carlos [Beltran] and Alex [Cora] were great to us,” Astros outfield George Springer had said during his apology press conference.

Third baseman Alex Bregman added that “No one put us up to this. We did it. All of us, not one person made us do anything.”

Braves outfielder Nick Markakis expressed his thoughts on the issue and said “It’s anger. I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating. It’s wrong. They’re messing with people’s careers.”

Many people around the game feel that players and teams will respond to this scandal by hitting Astros batters during games. Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was the first victim of what could be the hit by pitch retaliation. Major League Baseball announced prior to the start of spring training that they will take action if Astros players are being thrown at on purpose. Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that players will be fined and even suspended if found throwing at Astros players on purpose.  The real question is how far will teams and players go to get back at the Astros for what they did to the game? Many players have already hinted that the Astros players are going to have a rough year. What they did goes against every written and unwritten rule of the game. They set a bad example for the players of now and of the future. There will be retaliation, it’s going to happen. The Astros players are going to get hit, and they are going to get hit a lot. We see it all the time in baseball. What they did angered everyone around the game of baseball. They are going to get thrown at by other teams, even though the MLB said there will be punishments for it.

How far can the MLB go when it comes to suspensions and fines for players who throw at the Astros players? We see all the time that players get fined and suspended for a handful of games for causing a brawl during a game. But, we have never seen anything along these lines before and how it will unfold. Manfred has made it clear to all players that the MLB will protect the Astros players if they are thrown at intentionally or retaliated against in any other way. But, we are really uncertain how far they will take these fines and suspensions.

It will be interesting to see how teams and players react to the scandal throughout the season and if the Astros players do get thrown. Many players believe that they should be stripped of their title and that Jose Altuve should lose his 2017 Most Valuable Player award.

The Houston Astros open up the 2020 campaign in Anaheim against the defending American League MVP Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels on March 26, in Houston.