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The Not So American Past Time

Uproar is all fans could hear for miles from Minute Maid Park in Houston,Texas as George  Springer has just hit a two-run home run off Brandon McCarthy, securing the World Series championship for the Houston Astros against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Brawls ensued, food was  thrown, jerseys torn…and not only from Dodgers fanatics. Major League Baseball fans all over  the nation were in turmoil over this World Series win, but why did this one in particular sting  more than others?  

Despite whisperings of an ongoing cheating scandal amongst the Astros, they were still  allowed to play without an investigation. Through call outs from numerous MLB players,  coaches, and staff members accusing players and questioning ethics, the Astros went on to  win the 2017 World Series. Even if you were not a baseball fan, you knew this win wasn’t  genuine based on the same reactions across the United States.  However, it turned out that the win wasn’t genuine.

In the annals of baseball history, the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal of 2017-2018  stands out as a dark chapter that shook the foundations of America's favorite pastime. What  was once a sport known for its integrity, fair play, and unwavering fan loyalty became scarred  by systematic cheating that tarnished the reputation of not only the players and team, but the  league itself.  

The scandal revolved around the Astros' illicit use of technology to steal signs from  opposing teams during their winning season. Sign-stealing, a practice as old as the game  itself, involves teams deciphering the signals exchanged between pitchers and catchers to gain  an advantage. However, the Astros took it to a whole new level by utilizing a center-field  camera to capture the opposing team's signs, which were then relayed to the dugout in real time. 

The intricate web of scheming didn't end there. The Astros employed a system where  players and coaches would use banging on trash cans to signal the type of pitch to their  batters. Once decoded, this distinct pattern of banging gave their hitters a significant edge in anticipating the upcoming pitchThis covert operation allowed the Astros to rack up  impressive offensive statistics, leading to their eventual triumph in the World Series. 

The revelation of the scandal sent shockwaves throughout the baseball community,  prompting an intense investigation by the MLB. In January 2020, MLB Commissioner Rob  Manfred released a detailed report confirming the Astros' wrongdoing, and the fallout was swift  and severe. 

The consequences were widespread. The Astros' general manager,  Jeff Luhnow, and manager, AJ Hinch, were both suspended for the entire 2020 season and  subsequently fired by the Astros' owner, Jim Crane. The team was also fined $5 million, and  they forfeited their first and second-round draft picks for 2020 and 2021. 

The scandal prompted questions about the integrity of the game and the effectiveness  of MLB's efforts to maintain a level playing field. Fans and players alike expressed outrage, and  the controversy left an indelible mark on the Astros' legacy. While MLB granted immunity to players in exchange for their  cooperation with the investigation, the stain on their careers remained. 

The fallout from the scandal also raised broader ethical questions about the use of  technology in sports. As the line between fair play and unfair advantage continues to blur, the  Houston Astros' cheating scandal serves as a cautionary tale for sports organizations  worldwide. It prompted MLB to implement stricter rules regarding the use of technology in the  dugout and reinforced the importance of maintaining the integrity of the game.

Despite the harsh penalties and the public outcry, the Astros managed to rebuild and  even reached the postseason in the years following the scandal. However, the memory of their  tainted championship will forever linger in the minds of baseball fans, serving as a reminder of  the fragility of the sport's integrity and the lengths some may go to gain an unfair advantage. The legacy of the Houston Astros cheating scandal remains a cautionary tale, urging the baseball community  to remain vigilant in upholding the spirit of fair play that has defined the game for over a  century.

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