At this point, it’s like beating a dead horse, but it only bears repeating: The Houston Astros got off incredibly easy by Major League Baseball thanks to a lack of organizational leadership.
That’s solely on commissioner Rob Manfred.
We saw it once again last week when the Detroit Tigers announced that AJ Hinch — the Astros’ manager who oversaw the illegal sign-stealing scheme that stole them the 2017 World Series — would be their manager. Ending the lean one-year suspension handed down by Manfred last year after it was discovered that Houston used cameras to steal the opposing catcher’s signal to their dugout, which was relayed to the player up at-bat.
His bench coach at the time, Alex Cora, who went on to win a World Series a year later as the manager of the Boston Red Sox, was the ringleader of the scandal. Yet he’s a reported finalist to get his job back in Boston after what very well will be looked back on as a one-year vacation.
A small monetary fine, the docking of some draft picks, and the dismissal of general manager Jeff Luhnow after he was suspended for a year, too, was a tiny slap on the wrist in the grand scheme of things.
The players were given immunity for ratting out their coaches or veteran players. Carlos Beltran was fired shortly after he was brought on as Mets manager for his role in the scandal during his final season as a player.
With the same cast featuring Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Alex Bregman — to name a few — the Astros were back in the ALCS this year, falling to the Tampa Bay Rays in seven games.
It’s quite a light punishment compared to MLB’s largest scandal 100 years earlier when eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series at the behest of big-time gamblers.
They were blackballed from baseball for life.
Manfred had to find some sort of middle ground to find the right kind of punishment for the Astros.
Instead, the same cast of characters that pulled off one of the worst improprieties the game has ever seen has been allowed back into the institution that they showed zero regard or respect for in their run to a tainted title.
Not that Manfred cares or anything. After all, the Commissioner’s (World Series) Trophy is just “a piece of metal.”
This year can’t end any sooner for the disgraced commissioner as he truly won’t get a feel of how much the baseball-viewing public really feels about him until fans are allowed back in stadiums.