It’s been weeks since news of the Houston Astros cheating scandal broke in the news. Since then, few people in baseball have hesitated to express their outrage over what the Astros did. If anything, it seems to be intensifying, with few coming out of it any wiser. In fact, it’s bringing the worst out in people.
According to a Yahoo Sports article, Astros’ outfielder Josh Reddick, a member of the 2017 World Series championship team at the center of the sign-stealing controversy, recently received messages from angry baseball fans telling him, “I will kill your family…I will kill your kids.” The same article quotes Reddick as saying, “And it’s really depressing to read because it’s over a game of baseball.”
Reddick is right, but only to a certain degree.
Yes, it is over a game of baseball. American baseball fans are threatening to kill a player’s family all because he was on a team that went to great lengths to steal signs from opposing teams. But baseball’s involvement ends there. Telling someone that they want to kill their kids not only shows a truly revolting side of someone’s personality, but that they think their opinions, no matter how threatening, are justified. Ironically, while this psycho thinks he’s lashing out at the Astros for cheating, it’s the cheating that enables such unstable behavior in the first place.
Threats Against Reddick Expose a Larger American Problem.
If you ask Americans today if we’re a country that embraces hard work, honesty, and integrity, you’ll probably get more people saying no rather than yes. It’s an attitude that’s exemplified in every day life. When people don’t get their way they threaten to sue. They make up a false story about their employer rather than accept responsibility. When a fan’s team doesn’t win, they look for any excuse they can find to criticize the victor. This idea includes threatening a player’s family. They think their anger equates to the offense, and therefore justifies their response. Fans make threats. Cheaters feel emboldened by the lack of accountability. Those who are disgusted with both lose respect for the game and everyone associated with it. Is this a true reflection of the MLB though?
Players Criticizing the Astros Cheating Scandal Aren’t Exactly Innocent.
There’s no shortage of current players criticizing the Astros. But according to a bleacherreport.com article, former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Logan Morrison stated, “I know from first hand accounts that the Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, and Red Sox all have used film to pick signs.” So why have the Astros become the whipping boy for Major League Baseball if other teams are involved too?
Are these players angry that their efforts to play an honest game were disrespected? Or are they angry that they were outsmarted? It’s understandable that teams like the Yankees would be angry over what the Astros did in 2017. Why didn’t it stop then though? Did teams like the Yankees actually steal signs using the same kind of technology too? If so, would the villain/victim roles be reversed if the Yankees had won and the Astros hadn’t? Would those same Yankee fans call out their own team for cheating? Most definitely not.
It seems like other teams and their fan base aren’t angry about sign stealing. They’re angry that their own tactics didn’t net them a World Series victory. Instead of self-reflecting and saying “Our approach didn’t work that well,” they look to accuse other teams of cheating. It reflects this “I’m the best, and if someone beats me they must have done it by cheating.” I’m not trying to excuse the Astros. If anything, I wonder why they, and other teams, are getting away with it.
Is Everyone Guilty? No.
Players who claim they shouldn’t be held accountable because “other teams do it too,” are in effect committing the additional offense of being complicit and abetting in the acts of other team’s offenses by turning a blind eye and not calling them out. In other words, if everyone is committing an offense like sign stealing, they are all at fault. By joining in, they become guilty too. Furthermore, they encourage horrible people to threaten people like Josh Reddick. When psychos like those who make such threats see teams like the Astros get away with cheating, they think they have a right to fly off the rails themselves. That’s the ripple effect that scandals like this can have on American society. The Astros may not be directly responsible for the unfair things that happen in American society. They are, however, responsible for how people perceive their actions.
Honest Players and Fans Are the Victims Here.
Of course, I’m not saying that all MLB players were in on this Astros cheating scandal or knew about it. As I’ve insinuated, it’s tremendously unfair to those who didn’t know about the cheating. Players like L.A. Angels’ Mike Trout, who commands great respect in baseball, said as much. “It’s sad for baseball,” Trout was quoted as saying in a Yahoo Sports article. “It’s tough. They cheated.”
The Astros cheating scandal hurt players like Trout badly. Trout represent those in American society who put in an honest day’s work and have true grievances, but no one takes them seriously because of those who’ve exploited the system; they become indistinguishable. It’s players like Mike Trout that Major League Baseball should promote and make more visible to baseball fans. Right now, people are looking at baseball and thinking that cheating is acceptable in baseball because no one’s really doing anything about it (Commissioner Rob Manfred seems to be working harder to avoid the issue than I’m working to avoid the gym). Mike Trout would do what Babe Ruth did for baseball following the Black Sox scandal of 1919–restore its integrity. Players like Trout are the ones who baseball needs to see more of to show that not everyone in the sport is corruptible.
Despite the Astros Cheating Scandal, Integrity Is Still Salvageable.
I’m a teacher by day, so this issue of cheating is something with which I’m familiar. So I’ll tell Major League Baseball the same thing I tell my students when it comes to cheating. Don’t cheat and you’ll have less to worry about in the long run. You cheat, and you’re guilty. Of course, there’s always the argument that it makes no difference if no one cares and lets it happen. Our current system of government certainly seems to be exemplifying that idea. That doesn’t mean those who strive for honesty should give up though. If anything, it’s a chance for them to step up and become an example of integrity.
Corrupt people hold onto power, but not forever. When they fall, society looks to someone who never gave in to that corruption. It’s in that instance that those who resisted corruption not only find validation, but are called upon to lead.