According to ESPN, a tremendous life lesson that even non-baseball people could learn from was recently taught by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. It’s one that a lot of people could learn from, including Major League Baseball itself. They won’t, of course. It’s too easy a fix and makes too much sense and, most of all, works – therefore it won’t be done. But let’s imagine for a moment that people pay attention.
I’m going to put this in the perspective of the baseball scandal, but it’s easy to follow and has a tremendous moral at the end so just bear with me on this. The scandal involves the Houston Astros and the possibility of them “stealing signals” from other teams. Allegedly this is an illegal tactic. I honestly don’t see why. The catcher has a series of hand signals he gives the pitcher for every pitch to tell him what pitch to throw. There’s no set pattern to the signals per team and they have to be deciphered like every other code on the planet.
The Astros, who won the 2017 World Series, are accused of stealing signals, and, frankly, I couldn’t care less about this. Stealing signals is very easy in this world of TELEVISION where every pitch we see around the pitcher, see the signals, and, if we try hard enough, we can figure them out at home. Sometimes, the batter himself can glance back and see the signals. If there’s a runner on second, he can steal the signals. Why should it matter if someone in the stands has binoculars and steals them? Somehow, it’s okay to watch it on TV but not see it in person. Whatever.
The gist of this being that it’s still illegal, the Astros have apparently been caught doing it and they’ve been punished with losing draft picks and having several people fired, including, somehow, the manager of the New York Mets, Carols Beltran, and manager of the Boston Red Sox, Alex Cora, because they were part of it. The whole thing is lunacy but has managed to push baseball into the spotlight during the football playoffs, which is unusual because baseball’s playoffs couldn’t get a decent headline on ESPN (“the Worldwide Leader In Sports”) during football’s preseason!
There was a proposal that the Astros be stripped of their 2019 World Series title and it be handed to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers organization has said, and this is brilliant, no. They don’t want it like that. They said they want to earn it. Good for them! They acknowledge they got screwed but they’re moving past it and want to just concentrate on the upcoming season. History is history. Move along.
This is a brilliant idea that baseball should adopt immediately to deal with previous “scandals.” I’m thinking primarily of the “Steroid Age.” Many brilliant players were accused, some rightly, some unjustly, of taking steroids and other “performance enhancing drugs” to win more games. The obviously Hall of Fame careers of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez, to name a few, have been tarnished, for right or wrong, and are considered a blight on the past of Major League Baseball.
But how’s this for an idea. Rather than dwell on the “horrific” past wrongdoings, why not accept that they happened, they weren’t a blight but a boon for the sport, and move on. (If you don’t believe they were a boon, read this.)
Does this mean we should put these alleged cheaters into the Hall of Fame? Yeah, it does. Why? Because they brought more popularity to the sport than anything else since the careers of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. Look at the numbers. Tell me I’m wrong. They put on a great show and put people in the seats. That’s their job. Besides, if you don’t you’re never going to hear the end of it, and the blight will continue.
Should we put an asterisk on their plaques? Sure. Go ahead. But put them in and move on. Otherwise, this will be brought up every year until the end of the sport, and possibly the end of time. Did they cheat? Maybe. Did they do what they were supposed to do? Overall, absolutely. Is this a reward? Not really. I mean, what do they get out of it. An afternoon in the spotlight, as opposed to constant spotlight scandal-wise, which tarnishes baseball’s name, and the ability to possibly make extra money because they can now claim “Hall of Famer” status. Wahoo. They’re going to get that anyway.
But baseball itself might be able to move on a little bit. It happened. It’s in the past. It’s like a bad breakup – here’s the life lesson part. Yes, the breakup might have broken your heart, but if you dwell on it forever, you won’t be able to move on, be happy and productive, and life your actual life. These guys may have broken your heart, but denying them forever will only bring up the hurt again and again. Move on baseball. Move on.
* Yes, this means Pete Rose and Joe Jackson get in as well.
** The image of Barry Bonds in the title is owned by Major League Baseball who will have a hissy-fit if I don’t mention it. They own it. Not me. Yes, I will remove it if they have too big of a cow. Just let me know without using the lawyers. Be polite and ask. (Yes, I tried asking you but you never answer me.)