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Mitchell: Houston Astros Sign Stealing Is Biggest Scandal Ever In MLB

Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros holds the Commissioner's Trophy after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in game seven to win the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, Texas – Major League Baseball came down hard on the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal that aided them to their 2017 World Series title, the clubs first-ever.

KSL Unrivaled believed this Astros sign-stealing scandal is one of the worst ever in Major League Baseball, more so than Pete Rose and performance-enhancing drugs.

The end result saw manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow suspended through the 2020 season and fined $5 million. On top of that Astros owner, Jim Crane fired both of them. However, the World Series title will remain in Houston for the 2017 team.

The Astros were not just caught stealing signs but they used a variety of methods such as a camera with a live feed from the outfield hooked up to a monitor allowing players on the bench to see and then bang on garbage cans to tip off the hitter.

Where Does Astros Scandal Rank?

Major League Baseball has plenty of scandals over the years with a few of the big ones being the 1919 Black Sox scandal for gambling on the World Series, the steroid-era, and also Pete Rose gambling on baseball which resulted in a lifetime ban.

KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell argued that the Astros form of cheating is by far the worst ever in MLB history due to the advantage of knowing the pitch.

“I am really glad to see this by Jim Crane and I think this is a much bigger deal than just a one-year suspension,” Mitchell said. “Do you know how easy it would be if you knew what was happening before it happened? As a quarterback in the NFL, if I knew what the defense was before I broke the huddle, I would have a massive advantage. It would make the game extremely easier.”

“I really fell this type of cheating – it was elaborate and it was extensive – I actually believe it is worse than what Pete Rose did, and they should be banned for life.”

Technology is where KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry draws the line for cheating.

“I rolled my eyes this entire time. They were going Apple Watches, cameras zoomed in from the outfield and banging on garbage cans, ‘I went whatever,'” Kirry said.

“As soon as technology became part of the play of figuring out what these pitches were… by tracking those pitches by banging on garbage cans. When someone put it to video and explained, ‘right here, he bangs on it three times and that is the slider then they hit it out of the park.'”

KSL TV’s Jeremiah Jensen is on the other end of the spectrum and disagreed with Mitchell on Unrivaled about this being the worst scandal ever in baseball and nowhere near Rose betting.

“There are far worse cheating and controversies in baseball than this,” Jensen said. “Did they ban A.J. Hinch for life? Pete Rose got banned for life because baseball thought what he did is a lot more serious than what happened here [with the Astros].”

One of the biggest cheating scandals in all of MLB for Jensen is the use of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs that were seemingly everywhere during the 1990s with home run records falling left and right.

“A game based on tradition and records,” Jensen said. “All of their records and tradition were tainted for what these guys did in the 90s. All of the greatest records in baseball were broken by cheaters. Baseball will never be the same because of what those guys did to the game. The popularity of the game has declined significantly since then because people don’t trust the integrity of baseball.”

When Is Sign-Stealing Acceptable?

Mitchell spent over a decade in the NFL and felt that whenever signs and hand-signals being used in the stadium it is fair game if someone is able to figure out those signs while on the opposing sideline and did not consider that cheating.

If your favorite team was caught cheating to win a championship, should they have to give up the title?

Posted by KSL Sports on Monday, January 13, 2020

He even spoke to former Major League Baseball star Dale Murphy and he agreed with this sentiment.

“Dale Murphy is the most honest man ever born and I asked him about stealing signals and he said, ‘if someone is publicly putting it out there then it is public information then it is not stealing,'” Mitchell said.

This is very different then what the Astros did by tipping off the pitch with a video aid as the ball was coming toward the batter. That split-second advantage was huge in knowing how to approach the swing, according to Mitchell.

There is always going to be some form of cheating or at least trying to cheat to gain an edge in sports. There are plenty of gray areas to do that but using technology to know exactly what is going to happen even when the players and coaches are hiding the signals has to result in severe punishment.

That is what Major League Baseball is doing with the Astros punishment and they are now investigating Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora who was part of that Houston staff in 2017.

Banning these players for a year will go a long way to slow down this cheating but the Astros, at least for now, get to hold onto the World Series title and that could be seen as worth it for those players and coaches.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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