Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Baseball players, executives and fans are angry and unsatisfied, wanting the Astros to face stiffer consequences for their cheating. According to two high-ranking rival executives, many owners are far more angry about the scandal -- and at Astros owner Jim Crane personally -- than the league anticipated they would be.
MLB understands all this, but remains unlikely to take the aggressive step for which many are calling.
Commissioner Rob Manfred's position remains consistent with what he said in a news conference Sunday: He didn't want to set a precedent that could lead to future problems, and re-litigation of past cheating controversies.
"It had never happened in baseball," Manfred said. "I am a precedent guy. I am not saying you always follow precedent, but I think you ought to start by looking back at the way things had been done and need a good reason to depart from that precedent."
Since Manfred made those comments, both Judge and Stanton publicly voiced their desire for Manfred to reconsider.
"They did their investigation, and it was clean-cut that they cheated that year, which means it should be taken," Stanton said.
Added Judge: "I think [Yu] Darvish was the one that said, if you're playing in the Olympics and win a gold medal and find that you cheated, you don't get to keep that medal."
Considering the league-wide anger, it would probably be the easiest short-term play for Manfred to say that after listening to players, he has decided to strip the Astros of the title.
But doing so would lead to many new and uncomfortable questions.
What about other teams guilty of sign stealing, like the 1951 Giants? Teams that won championships with help from proven steroid or amphetamine users?
What about Gaylord Perry, who doctored baseballs on the way to 314 wins? Would the Hall of Fame have to strip his plaque from its walls?
One could argue that the Astros' electronic sign-stealing scheme was more egregious than any of the above examples. But one could also argue that if baseball takes the 2017 title from Houston, it will open up an endless re-examination of results.
On any given day, someone in the sport is cheating, through drugs or other means. If Manfred vacates one win, the calls for him to do the same for others might never stop.
Because of these concerns, Judge, Stanton and the many others who want the Astros punished will likely end up disappointed.