Skip to main content

MLB's penalties against Astros not nearly enough


Monday afternoon, Major League Baseball and commissioner Rob Manfred announced their punishment for the Houston Astros stemming from the team's sign-stealing scandal. The Astros were alleged to have illegally used electronics to steal signs during their 2017 World Series Championship run and MLB's investigation verified media reports.

Here is a recap of the discipline:

Astros fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under MLB's constitution.

GM Jeff Luhnow suspended for one year. Luhnow was then fired by the Astros.

Manager A.J. Hinch suspended for one year. Hinch was then fired by the Astros.

Former assistant GM Brandon Taubman suspended one year.

Astros forfeit their first and second round draft picks the next two years.

Manfred issued a nine-page report detailing MLB's investigation and explaining how he arrived at the discipline. The scandal and the level of discipline are unprecedented, and yet the punishment also feels a little light.

Specifically, the $5 million fine is probably not enough to deter similar behavior in the future. Hinch and Luhnow getting suspended and then fired will undoubtedly resonate throughout baseball circles, but, at the ownership level, the $5 million fine is a pittance relative to the financial windfall associated with winning the 2017 World Series.

Astros players took home a then-record $30,420,155.57 postseason pool in 2017, and, given how that is calculated and the fact the Astros played seven games in the ALCS and World Series, it means the club itself took home something well north of that following the 2017 postseason run. The $5 million fine amounts to only a small piece of that pie.

And those are just the gate receipts, remember. A World Series win means merchandise sales, better advertising opportunities, new fans who will return and give you their money for years to come. For the Astros, the fact it was their first World Series title makes it even more lucrative. It was a historic moment. A license to print money for the foreseeable future.

As best I can tell the Major League Constitution was amended in recent years to raise the maximum allowable fine from $2 million to $5 million, which is good, but still relatively insignificant at the ownership and team level. The MLB Constitution also includes a section regarding integrity of the game, which is the primary matter in question here:

Integrity shall include without limitation, as determined by the Commissioner, the ability of, and the public perception that, players and Clubs perform and compete at all times to the best of their abilities. Public confidence shall include without limitation the public perception, as determined by the Commissioner, that there is an appropriate level of long-term competitive balance among Clubs. 

The Astros, through their sign-stealing scheme, have damaged the reputation of the game and the integrity of play. On-field results during their 2017 regular season and, more importantly, their 2017 postseason run have been brought into question. It's an ugly situation for baseball all around. That the 2018 Red Sox are also being investigated for sign-stealing only makes it worse.

To spark change, it has to begin at the top of the organizational ladder, and the best way to drive home a point is to hit someone in the wallet, always and forever. That includes MLB owners. Fine the owner heavily and the other 29 will notice, and word will trickle down to the baseball operations folks and on-field personnel that they better not cheat.

There is a point where the risk is worth the reward. Do I want to risk a $5 million fine to get a postseason windfall that could equals tens of millions? I don't know where that point is, exactly, and I'm sure it's different for everyone, but $5 million is dangerously close to an acceptable risk. Teams can make that up with a postseason trip that doesn't end with a World Series win.

The MLB Constitution lays out the maximum fine and it is what it is, and we shouldn't expect the owners to agree to revise it so the commissioner can fine exorbitant amounts. It would be a sign of good faith, however. We'll hold ourselves accountable by giving the commissioner the power to hammer us with a $10 million, $25 million, or even a $100 million fine. Imagine that?

Hinch and Luhnow paid for the sign-stealing scandal with the loss of a year's salary and their jobs -- and their reputations. The Astros also lost four high draft picks the next two years, which will hurt them long-term. Beyond that, Crane and the Astros did not incur much pain. Their reputation is sullied, but that's nothing a little winning won't cure. Don't believe me? Wait until you see the avalanche of redemption stories when Houston wins the AL West again in a few months. You know they're coming.

Manfred's discipline was harsh like it should have been, but it was also not as harsh as it could have been and maybe should have been. The single best way to drive home a point and invite change is to take away money, and MLB did not take away enough from the Astros. That 2017 World Series win more than paid for itself.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

First confirmed case of COVID-19 in Canyon

The Amarillo Area Public Health has confirmed 1 case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canyon.

"Due to sensitive information we are not able to share details regarding this case," the city said in a statement.

On Monday, Canyon Mayor Gary Hinders hosted a Facebook Live giving details of Canyon’s response to COVID-19 Status Level Red, which is aligned with the City of Amarillo and new Amarillo Public Health guidance.

Effective immediately, Amarillo Public Health has updated its coronavirus (COVID-19) Level to RED. This is the highest alert level, indicating there are widespread confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Amarillo and the surrounding area.

Hinders issued stay at home guidelines, that went into effect tonight, (March 30) at 11:59 pm and will be in place at least through Monday, April 13, 2020.

"We ask that residents stay at home except for outings essential to their own health, safety, and welfare and that of their family members," the city said.

Under these guideline…

Grocery stores impacted by COVID-19 outbreak

With the continued spread of COVID-19, many grocery stores throughout the area have been facing changes in operations as well as economic impacts.

Nancy Sharp, manager of communications and community engagement for the United “family,” which includes all Llano Logistics, RC Taylor, United Express, Amigos, Market Street and United Supermarkets, said COVID-19 has many people doing some fear-driven, panic-type buying, causing a significant increase in traffic in stores and people purchasing items.

The closure of dining establishments has also impacted sales as more people are cooking at home, which Sharp said has provided an increase to grocery stores across the country. The increase in traffic has also increased the amount of people who are working in the stores and the need for additional cleaning.

“We are cleaning multiple times a day, multiple surfaces. And so that has definitely increased the number,” Sharp said. “We're restocking several times a day; that also has increased th…

White House projects between 100,000 and 240,000 American deaths from coronavirus

President Trump's top health advisers said Tuesday that models show between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the novel coronavirus even if the country keeps stringent social distancing guidelines in place.

Without any measures to mitigate the disease's spread, those projections jump to between 1.5 and 2.2 million deaths from COVID-19.

The models, which were displayed at a White House press briefing Tuesday, underpinned Trump's decision to extend social distancing guidelines to the end of April.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, explained the data, urging the public to steel for difficult weeks ahead while expressing hope that the efforts would reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

“There’s no magic bullet, there’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors,” Birx said, adding that it would be those behaviors that could change “the course of the viral pandemic.”

Second COVID-19 case confirmed in Canyon

The Amarillo Area Public Health has confirmed a second positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canyon. Due to sensitive information the City of Canyon is not provided details on any cases.

Last week, Mayor Gary Hinders hosted a Facebook Live giving details of Canyon’s response to COVID-19 Status Level Red, which is aligned with the City of Amarillo and new Amarillo Public Health guidance.

Effective immediately, Amarillo Public Health has updated its coronavirus (COVID-19) Level to RED. This is the highest alert level, indicating there are widespread confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Amarillo and the surrounding area.

Hinders issued stay at home guidelines, that went into effect March 30 at 11:59 pm and will be in place at least through Monday, April 13, 2020.

"We ask that residents stay at home except for outings essential to their own health, safety, and welfare and that of their family members," the city said.

Under these guidelines, all businesses, except those essenti…

First COVID-19 death in Lubbock: City confirms 10 additional cases

The City of Lubbock confirmed its first COVID-19 related death in a news release on Saturday. The individual was a male in his 60s who had underlying health conditions and was a resident of Lubbock, according to the release.

As of 5 p.m. on Saturday, the City of Lubbock has confirmed 10 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in Lubbock County to 41, according to the release.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has reported additional cases of COVID-19 in the surrounding areas to Lubbock County, including seven in Hockley County, one in Terry County, one in Gaines County, one in Hale County and one in Yoakum County, according to the release.

The City of Lubbock Health Department will continue monitoring individuals to reduce the risk of the transmission of COVID-19, according to the release.