Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across MLB. Each week during the regular season (and during some special events in the off-season), we send a brief poll to plugged-in fans from each team to get a sense of how the fanbase is feeling about the team that week. Mariners fans, sign up HERE to join FanPulse; it’s easy and free! This week we have a special off-season edition of FanPulse addressing the Astros’ cheating scandal.
Two months after Mike Fiers blew the whistle on his former club in an interview with The Athletic, MLB has laid down a precedent-setting punishment against the Astros, fining the club $5M (the max allowed), handing out one-year suspensions that turned into terminations for GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, and penalizing the Astros the first two draft picks in the 2020/2021 drafts.
Far from the issue being put to bed, however, baseball has continued to swirl with insinuations and accusations: that the Astros used wearable buzzers in addition to their trash-can antics; that the Red Sox are also dirty rotten cheaters; ending up in a truly bizarre day on Twitter where it was insinuated Mike Trout takes HGH and Carlos Beltrán’s niece had insider info (the account was later said not to belong to any member of the Beltrán family). It was like the Purge, Baseball edition.
Part of what may be to blame for the baseball waters still being muddied is a lingering sense among many parties that the Astros weren’t punished enough; that if the trade was a World Series title, most GMs would make this particular deal with the devil. That’s a feeling that’s echoed among FanPulse respondents, where 67% of those polled felt the Astros did the crime, but got off light on the time.
However, as for whether or not the Astros’ World Series championship should be vacated, respondents were split almost exactly down the middle.
Vacating a title is an extreme measure that’s never been seen before in MLB, and maybe those polled felt like that went too far. Given the incredible talent on the Astros’ roster, I agree that vacating the title, while morally probably the right thing to do (cheaters never prosper), likely doesn’t right any baseball wrong. That’s what continues to boggle my mind about the Astros cheating to this extent. You were so good! You would have won anyway! You literally did not have to do this, any of this! It’s like the baseball version of that Felicity Huffman “crime time” tweet.
However, when it came to the bans imposed on the major actors in the scandal, the majority of respondents again felt they got off too easily, with 62% of those polled saying the people involved should receive lifetime bans from baseball.
While baseball hasn’t vacated titles, they have handed down a fair number of lifetime bans, most of which have been upheld over time, although some have not. The Wikipedia article on people banned from baseball is interesting reading if you haven’t perused it before. In his time as commissioner, Manfred has already handed out four bans, including Jenrry Mejia (later reinstated), Chris Correa, John Coppolella, and, in a weird retroactive move of this set of punishments, Brandon Taubman.
Speaking of scandals of the past, FanPulse voters see the Astros sign-stealing as one of the less impactful MLB scandals, ranking it just behind BALCO/Biogenesis-gate (28% vs. 25%). The Black Sox scandal remains at the top, which seems fair, as that scandal is the whole reason we have a Commissioner of Baseball in the first place.
One question that wasn’t included in the FanPulse survey that I would have liked to see answered regards player punishments (and whether or not Beltrán should have lost his job with the Mets). Manfred said from the outset players wouldn’t be punished, so it wasn’t surprising to see no players singled out, but with things continuing to fracture (did I mention Justin Verlander might have a burner account now), it seems like the players got off easy.
Should the players have been punished in the Astros’ cheating scandal?
This poll is closed
Yes, they’re the ones who actually carried out and directly benefited from the cheating, interrogate them all Law and Order-style until they flip on each other
No, only leadership should be punished; the clubhouse/FO leadership failed the players by not setting higher standards for behavior
Yes in theory, but it would be logistically impossible to figure out how to punish all deserving parties
No, no one should have been punished, and also I’m an Astros fan
I feel differently
And one more:
Should Carlos Beltrán have lost his job as the Mets’ manager?
This poll is closed
No, he was a player at the time and shouldn’t be subject to punishment others players aren’t
Yes, it would have been inappropriate for someone tarnished by the scandal to immediately assume a leadership position
Somehow this is the Mets’ fault
Remember, you can sign up to participate in the FanPulse surveys for this coming season at this link! Surveys will go out each week and only take a few minutes to complete!