When I was in college, two students broke into an economics professor’s office and stole copies of the final exam several days before it was to be administered to the class.
They got caught.
Both students got kicked out of school. Their punishment was swift and absolute.
Just think what would have happened had they not been caught. They probably would have done well on the exam. Meanwhile, the other students who didn’t have a copy of the test questions would have been at a disadvantage.
These students would have had to study more thoroughly and for longer hours, cope with more pre-exam anxiety, and probably gotten a lower grade than the guys who secured questions in advance.
The thieves with high grades may have leveraged that good exam grade to land a higher-paying job or gain admittance to a more prestigious graduate school.
Now think of the Houston Astros
Now think of the Houston Astros. They set up a system in which they informed their baseball teammates about which pitches the opposing pitchers were about to throw them.
So instead of having to be ready for any number of different pitches and react quickly to whatever came in – such as a curve, slider, or fastball – the hitters knew that, say, a fastball was coming.
They could rid their minds of any concerns about the curve or slider and how to hit those and just relax and get ready to rip the fastball.
Knowing what pitch is coming is a serious advantage for a hitter especially when the other team’s hitters don’t have the good fortune of knowing what pitches will be thrown next. It’s more of an advantage than taking steroids to help a hitter hit a ball farther.
We’ve all cheated in some way
It’s easy to be judgmental about this and say the Astros were wrong to cheat as they did – and there’s no doubt they flagrantly cheated.
But let’s remember. All of us in one way or another have cheated in some way in some aspect of our lives. Maybe not like the Astros did, maybe not as egregiously, but in some way.
So while I hesitate to beat up too much on this team and its players, I do wonder how a bunch of guys who were already millionaires could have cheated so they could make even more money and gain more glory by being World Series champions.
I wonder what it was like for those who have kids to come home and have their kids ask “Dad, you already make millions of dollars to play baseball. Why did you have to cheat to make more or to win a World Series? Didn’t you think that winning by cheating wouldn’t be satisfying, or did you not care if you cheated as long as you won? You’ve been teaching me not to cheat when I played Little League baseball. I’m confused.”
Are baseball players relatively unsophisticated?
I wonder if maybe these guys are just not that sophisticated. I wonder if baseball players such as these don’t get particularly strong educations because they dedicate enormous amounts of time playing baseball, which does not allow much time to spend in the library reading great books or perhaps not much time to learn about the importance of integrity. The truth is many don’t attend college.
I wonder if they ever learned anything about playing sports on an equal footing with opponents. I wonder how many pro baseball players learn about morals.
It all seems so boneheaded. The Astros already had a talented bunch of players. They may have won the World Series without cheating. But they did it anyway. Maybe there was pressure from the coaches to keep doing this junk.
I don’t know. But I do know this. It was stupid. It’s as if no one was really thinking through the repercussions of cheating.
Is it really possible the Astros players who were getting advanced notices of what pitches were coming really didn’t think about how unfair that was to the other team’s players who were not? Did it ever occur to them that it wouldn’t be as satisfying to win a World Series if they cheated?
Didn’t it dawn on them that cheating to win wouldn’t be fulfilling, in the end, and if they got caught, as they did, their reputations would be damaged and that people would trust them less, which is never a good thing for the untrusted person?
Normal sophisticated people do think about these things and often make smart decisions to avoid getting themselves into such messes.
They would say to themselves “I won’t want to win the World Series this way. I’ll never feel good about having an unfair advantage against the opponents. I want to win the World Series when both teams compete on a level playing field.”
Can’t believe not one player tried to stop the madness
I can’t believe these players didn’t think about this and stop the madness. But apparently, if they did think about it, they weren’t bothered enough to speak up and say “hey, I don’t want to win the World Series by cheating. That’s not how I want to be remembered. I don’t want my kids knowing I was willing to cheat to win. That’s not the kind of father I want to be.”
But they didn’t do that. And that’s sad for them, their kids, and all of us.
Suspend all the players for an entire season
I think all the Astros players should be suspended for at least an entire season. I don’t care about any of the politics involved or power of the Major League Baseball Players Union or the lawsuits fans might file against the Astros for the tickets they bought to those World Series games that were fraudulent events.
Money will be lost. So be it. There’s a bigger issue here that needs to be remedied.
Right is right and wrong is wrong. What they did was just wrong in so many ways on so many levels.
The baseball world – and the world overall – needs these suspensions to happen. Otherwise, kids will grow up thinking if they cheat and win a World Series it will be OK, even if they caught.
We don’t want our kids to grow up thinking this way about baseball and every other aspect of their lives.
On any playing field, in any work situation, in any walk of life, cheating should not be tolerated. It wrecks societies and peoples’ lives. Our American system is built on the ideals of fairness in competition. We must revere this always.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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