It is difficult to believe that California is more conservative and more stringent toward cheating than Texas. We have all seen the classic westerns set in a town in West Texas in which the mandatory poker game in the saloon takes place. Four or five rough and tumble cowboys sit around amid the smoke. The final hand is played containing a full house – aces high – and the cowboy sitting across lays down four kings. The next sequence happens quickly: a cowboy throws an accusation, another cowboy stands with his Colt on his hip, the other cowboys scatter, guns are drawn and shots fired, and in the end the cheater lies dead on the floor of the saloon in a pool of his own blood oozing from a wound. Texas justice is rendered, swiftly and decisively.
How times have changed.
THE PRINCIPLE OF JUSTICE. The biblical principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is so often misconstrued to make it a recipe for revenge. In truth, it is a principle of equity stating that the punishment must fit the crime. In the case of cheating, the just principle should be: Cheaters never prosper. If a cheater benefits from cheating, that which is gained should be forfeited and the cheater punished.
In the case of the recent college admission cheating scandal, California parents cheated in various ways to gain admission for their children to prestigious colleges. Some involved changing SAT admission scores; some involved falsifying documents; some instances required fictional creation of athletic scenarios. The crimes were discovered, the parents tried, and justice was meted out. Children were expelled from the schools, parents spent time in jail and paid fines, and the matter was closed. Since the offending child displaced a deserving student’s admission, I believe that parents, additionally, should have been required to pay the tuition for one student to attend the same institution for four years. In this way, the offenders were punished, the benefits gained were removed, and restitution was afforded those offended by the crime.
However, in the case of the Houston Astros cheating against the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to win the World Series, justice was neither fair nor equitable.
THE ISSUE. Whether the Astros may have still won the World Series is not the issue. The issue is this: a Major League Baseball team used electronic means to cheat and, therefore, gained an unfair advantage in the games.
In the case of the Astros, in order to cheat, several decisions were required by Alex Cora, the bench coach that year. A camera had to be installed in center field. A monitor had to be placed in the dugout. Someone had to place a garbage can in the dugout close to home plate. Someone had to watch the monitor. A bat had to be lifted. The garbage can had to be struck signifying the type of pitch. Finally, each batter chose to either listen to the sound of the bat on the garbage can and act upon it or to ignore it. (This does not even take into account electronic warnings to the batter – which is even more involved.)
CHEATERS SHOULD NOT PROSPER. The Houston Astros benefited from their cheating. The ball club received the iconic trophy. With the trophy came the right to call itself World Champions for 2017. Each player received an expensive ring. Each player received a monetary bonus. Players received the ability to demand more for endorsements or public appearances.
“Major League Baseball released the findings of its investigation, which concluded the Astros used a center-field monitor for real-time video of catchers’ signs and subsequently banged a trash can to alert their hitters of incoming pitches, confirming initial comments by Mike Fiers to The Athletic. MLB suspended Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch for the entire season and both were subsequently fired by owner Jim Crane. The team was also fined $5 million.” (YahooSports.com, January 26, 2020.) No further action was taken. MLB stated that it was uncertain that the Los Angeles Dodgers would have won the World Series. Completely ignored were the benefits awarded to the cheaters.
Additionally, the following should happen: 1) The World Series title should be stripped and assigned to the runner-up in the World Series – The Los Angeles Dodgers – not because they may have won it, but because the Houston Astros do not deserve the title . 2) Each Dodger, as runner-up, should receive a World Series ring. 3) Record books should be revised to record what happened so future generations may understand that cheating is a serious offense. 4) Alex Cora should be suspended from Major League Baseball.
There is precedent for these actions in both Major League Baseball and other sports. Remember well what happened to the 1919 Chicago White Sox. So serious was the cheating offense that is was called the Black Sox Scandal. “The Black Sox Scandal was a Major League Baseball match fixing incident in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein, Aiden Clayton, and Aaron Nelson” (Wikisports). Players accused of throwing the game were suspended from Major League Baseball for life, among them Shoeless Joe Jackson. Bicyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his championship title for blood doping in the Tour de France. Various athletes have forfeited Olympic gold medals for their use of performance enhancing drugs.
Presently, if you choose to cheat to get your kid into college, you will do jail time. If you choose to cheat in Major League Baseball, it appears that you can get away with it and benefit from your actions.
Hey, kids! In Major League Baseball, cheaters DO prosper!