The 2019-20 free agency period has been an absolute wild one. We have seen over $1 billion in salaries handed out. At this point, nine-figure contracts being handed out has almost become non-newsworthy. All the changes seems to have created an anticipation for the upcoming season, unlike many of the years before. The landscape of baseball has changed in many ways, but one story that has absolutely dominated the offseason.
First reported by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, the Houston Astros were found to electronically stealing signs during their 2017 World Series run. It is possible that they may have cheated beyond that, with multiple accusations coming their way for the following two seasons that have yet to be confirmed.
The ripple effects of this scandal stretches beyond just the Astros themselves. For better or worse, baseball has gotten a lot of attention. The MLB has responded quickly and made swift punishments, with the hopes of being able to move on from this situation as quickly as possible. Here, we go through five ripple effects that the Astros have created with their actions.
Legitimacy As An Organization
The Astros have a lot of work to do before they are taken seriously as an organization. This is particularly true if the cheating allegations for the last two seasons prove to be accurate.
Until now, most opposing fans had respected Houston as an organization. The majority of their team was built through the draft and they made smart decisions in previous offseasons. For most, their Game 7 World Series victory was admirable.
As Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger recently noted, opponents may find it surprising for the Astros to look others in the face next season. Multiple opposing players have spoken out against the organization. This is accompanied by the Roberto Osuna locker room situation and beyond.
Despite owner Jim Craine’s firings of head coach AJ Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow, the Astros have a lot of making up to do.
While it’s unconfirmed whether or not the Astros have cheated beyond the 2017 World Series, evidence seems to have been pointed in that direction. While Los Angeles Dodgers fans may own the right to have the sharpest pain from their actions, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees fans both have legitimate reason for the sour taste left in their mouths.
The Red Sox have been accused of cheating in their own right, but it has not been reported whether or not the team actually cheated during the 2017 ALDS against the Astros. The team was outscored 16-4 on the road, while winning two out of three at home. While it’s fairly possible that this may have been a cheating contest won by the Astros, Red Sox fans might feel that they were cheated out of World Series ring they never had a chance to fight for.
As for the Yankees, they have been on cheated out more than once. Aside from multiple World Series opportunities, Aaron Judge may have been cheated out of an MVP award during his rookie year in which Jose Altuve won.
In addition to teams being cheated out of the World Series, select players were robbed of adding (or changing) the ship in their careers. CC Sabathia was longing for a second World Series win, while Yu Darvish’s downward spiral hit rock-bottom after being rocked for four runs in just 1.2 innings of work against Houston in Game 2. As a result, he hasn’t recovered.
Clayton Kershaw, who was unarguably the best pitcher in the game at that point, posted an 18-4 record to go with a league-leading 2.31 ERA before facing Houston in the World Series. The narrative at the time was whether Kershaw could achieve success in the postseason.
His 2017 postseason was going well up until Game 5 start of the World Series. Until that point, Kershaw was posting a 3-0 record with a 2.98 ERA. This included a dominant Game 1 against Houston in which he struck out 11 batters in seven innings. However, in Game 5, Kershaw was rocked for six runs.
A win in Game 5 would have given the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the World Series. To take it a step further, a World Series MVP was within reach for Kershaw. With Houston pulling out the win, the Dodgers have yet to secure a World Series since 1988.
Future Hall of Fame Considerations
Perhaps the biggest repercussion of all is the fact that the Astros may have been talented enough to win the 2017 World Series without cheating.
Jose Altuve seemed to be on his way to a future Hall of Fame induction. He led the league in hitting in four consecutive seasons and had tallied roughly 200 hits annually. Altuve, 27 at the time, had recorded 1,250 career hits. Regardless of how you felt about him, his talent was unquestionable.
Unfortunately for Altuve, his legacy and past statistics are questionable at best. We have seen Barry Bonds and Pete Rose kept out of the Hall of Fame for different reasons, but Altuve could very well be in that same category. This scandal may rule out select Astros players from the Hall of Fame.
MLB To Keep A Closer Eye
Depending on how you look at it, this may be the only positive that comes out of this situation. The Astros and Red Sox are two teams to be accused of a cheating scandal. At this rate, it’s not crazy to believe that other organizations have been involved in some type of illegal advantage.
In order to protect the integrity of the game, MLB officials will likely pay much closer attention to all organizations moving forward. This could lead to other cheating organizations being weeded out and rightfully punished. It may be a bad look if other teams are caught in scandals of their own, but this could be a spring cleaning that is needed for the game.
Photo Credit- Eater Houston