As the temperatures rise and the melt begins, the boys of summer and all 30 teams of Major League Baseball have reported to Florida or Arizona for spring training. The optimism of 2020 Twins baseball on the heels of the record-setting 2019 season—winning 101 games and hitting an MLB-record 307 home runs—has been overshadowed by the sorry state of Major League Baseball.
Attendance across MLB has again declined for the seventh straight season. The fact that fewer than eight percent of MLB’s 30 team rosters are Black players speaks to the arrogance and delusion of the shortsighted stewards of this American game.
The fact that MLB suspended three managers, including Houston’s A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow, and fined the Houston Astros owner Jim Crane $5 million for stealing signs during the 2017 season and parts of 2018, looks on the surface like they punished the right organization.
However, the issue is much deeper. “What does a crime syndicate do? They lie, they cheat, they steal,” said LaVelle E. Neal III. “And in some cases they mock people about the way they go about doing their business. This is what the Houston Astros have done over the last few years.
They allowed their first baseman to mock an Asian player by making slant-eyed signs after hitting a home run off him, which is clearly in poor taste. The Astros have been doing things like this for the last several years.”
The players who performed the acts and executed the crimes have been permitted to go unpunished. Why? Because the strength of MLB’s union won’t allow its players to be singled out. That is a problem that fans and media have rejected, and the storm cloud continues to hang over the game.
It reminds us that the powers that control the game of baseball have allowed this drip effect to further tarnish the only game played without a clock to fall further behind.
This sign-stealing scandal is terrible. When your 2017 World Series Champion is not credible, you have problems. MLB is no dummy—they have been aware of cheating and the stealing of signs for years dating back to 2016. It’s part of the overall “don’t worry about it” approach of arrogance that MLB has allowed to fester.
Now players across the league are threatening to retaliate and show the Astros players there is a payback. It’s in the lap of Commissioner Rob Manfred, a man who may not survive this scandal. Time will tell. He has threatened to punish players for throwing at Astros hitters.
To call your World Series trophy a “bunch of metal” as Manfred did might indicate he’s in over his head. The institution of baseball at its highest level is in trouble. When you get caught cheating and the champion who cheated gets away with just fines, the credibility and integrity of your sport has been tarnished. And the damage continues to grow.