Baseball’s cheating scandal is creating waves in Cleveland. Several Indians players, including pitcher Mike Clevinger, are blasting Major League Baseball for not coming down harder on the Houston Astros. An investigation found that the Astros stole pitching signals to help their batters during their 2017 World Series run. They used a combination of technology and banging a garbage can. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says players have a right to be angry.
"Worse than steroids"
Clevinger called the Astros cheating scandal "worse than steroids." Pluto says that's because pitchers have an especially tough time trying to sustain a major-league career.
"Baseball's a sport where 85% of the players went back to minor leagues at least once," Pluto said. "Mike Clevinger went up and down five times in two years before he finally stuck with the Indians. And his point is that, 'If I'm getting out and sent down if this guy knows what I'm throwing, that's stealing money from me and it's wrecking my career.'"
Punishment at the top
Pluto says he's glad that punishment was handed down at the top of the franchise, with one-year suspensions for Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch. Both were fired by the team's owner. Then, the Boston Red Sox parted ways with their manager, Alex Cora, who had been Houston's bench coach in 2017. And the New York Mets let go of their new manager, Carlos Beltran, who was implicated as a player with the Astros in 2017.
The Astros were also fined $5 million, which Clevinger criticized as too low. "He said, 'This is a multimillion-dollar industry. That's like 20 bucks,'" Pluto said.
Taking more draft picks
The Astros also lost draft picks, and this is where Pluto says the MLB could have come down harder.
"They took away a first-round and second-round picks for the next two years. Right now, draft choices are considered gold when you're building their organization. It's not only the fact that they help you, but you could turn around and trade them for somebody else."
So, Pluto proposes the penalty should be that a team loses four years of first- and second-round draft picks instead of two. "This gives a team pause that if they get caught, their penalties would be even worse."
Pluto also suggests that the teams who lost to the Astros in the 2017 and 2018 playoffs be awarded those picks. "It's a way of really harming them and further arming your opponent."