Monday Mail: MLB Has Left It to Opposing Teams to Punish Astros

The Astros will have to answer for their cheating in the batter's box

Spring training has gotten off to a good start, unless you play for or are a fan of the Astros. If you’re either of those then spring training hasn’t been the welcoming sign of baseball it has always been in the past.

This week’s questions and comments are related to the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme and their public “apology” last week.

Email your questions to or engage on the Keefe To The City Facebook page or on Twitter to be included in the next Monday Mail.

Here we go. It’s going to be a wild season. Look out Astros. – Henry

I have no idea what Major League Baseball was thinking when they punished the Astros by punishing the general manager, manager, owner’s wallet and draft picks. The commissioner called the scheme “player-driven” and “player-executed” and then didn’t punish the players. He spoke openly about his investigation at spring training and said he wish he could have punished the players, but he needed to grant them immunity in order to find out what really happened in terms of sign stealing. Rob Manfred could have easily found out what was going on while also punishing the players.

In no way do I feel bad for Jeff Luhnow or A.J. Hinch since the former was clearly a much larger part of the entire scheme than depicted in the commissioner’s report and the latter was in the dugout while it was all taking place, but they’re sitting home, while the millionaire Astros get to continue to play baseball and make their millions. No one has looked worse than Jim Crane, who made millions upon millions from the team winning the World Series and who has tried to play the part of an old, naive fool in all of this. His unfathomable comment that sign stealing didn’t help the team win was contested by his own franchise shortstop. Each time Crane opens his mouth he makes things worse than they were before. I hope he continues to open his mouth.

How ugly could it potentially get when Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and company stand in the batter’s box with an aggrieved pitcher on the mound with a ball in his hand? – Mark

Oh it’s going to get ugly. It was going to be ugly even if the players had been punished. But now that they weren’t punished by the league, other players and pitchers are going to take the punishment into their own hands. Pitchers have already admitted they are going to throw at the Astros and I hope we see it as soon as the first inning of Opening Day. Alex Rodriguez was drilled by Ryan Dempster (what a loser Dempster is) after appealing his season-plus-long suspension for performance-enhancing drugs and he was one person doing something a lot of players were also doing for decades. Now we have a whole team that won the World Series and potentially ruined careers and altered the history of baseball from an elaborate and illegal sign-stealing operation. Every Astro should have an uncomfortable at-bat this season. There’s a long line of pitchers ready to throw at the Astros and many of them are among the game’s hardest-throwing.

Dusty Baker comes off like an idiot asking MLB to protect his players. Baker has been Astros manager for five minutes and wasn’t part of the team’s disgusting past and now he’s trying to get people to move on. For someone who has been a part of baseball for 200 years like Baker has, he more than anyone should realize and expect his players to eat more than a few fastballs this season. This story isn’t going away. It will always be tied to the Astros. Any success the Astros have will be questioned for cheating, and if they aren’t successful, people will say it’s because they’re no longer cheating.

I have the over/under on bench clears involving the Astros this season at 3.5. I think they will take their medicine at first, but eventually they will get tired of it all and do something about it. They have 19 different opponents who will all want to have a hand in serving the Astros justice and that’s a lot of team and a lot of pitchers to go through.

Unfortunately, the Astros don’t come to New York until the last week of the season from Sept. 21-24. So just when the season is winding down and they have spent six-plus months hearing and answering for their cheating, they will have to hear about it and answer for it more than they have all season in Games 156, 157, 158 and 159.

The lies are very comical. I’m enjoying this. – Tom

Days after the report was released, Alex Bregman was asked questions at the team’s fan fest and he sarcastically laughed while reciting the same answer over and over, telling everyone to refer to the commissioner’s report. Not even a month later we were all supposed to accept his somber mood and statement apology? I don’t think so.

It’s not so much lies that made this all enjoyable as much as it is the answers and reasoning given by Astros players. Justin Verlander, arguably the most outspoken player in baseball against cheating, doesn’t think his World Series ring is tainted. Jose Altuve, who won the AL MVP in the year the Astros were banging on a trash can like a street performer outside of the stadium to alert batters of what pitch was coming, answered nearly every question by questioning reporters. According to Altuve, if you don’t believe his answers then you don’t believe the commissioner and the commissioner’s report. Sorry if not everyone is quick to believe the commissioner who wasn’t able to uncover the “Codebreaker” story that the Wall Street Journal was able to after his report came out with his report supposedly including everything about the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Astros.

Then there’s Carlos Correa. To Correa’s credit, he has talked and given detailed answers when asked questions. He hasn’t hid behind some ghostwritten statement like Bregman or Altuve and he hasn’t come off like a hypocritical asshole like Verlander. Correa has tried to give the media what they want and that’s answers that don’t tell reporters to reference the investigation and report. The problem is Correa, whether truthful or not, has come off as either lying or greatly exaggerating in regards to Altuve possibly wearing a buzzer for his walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS.

When the buzzer rumors surfaced, it was because Altuve was clutching his jersey as he approached home plate, not wanting his body exposed after hitting a pennant-clinching home run. Rather than celebrate with his team on the field, Altuve quickly ran into the dugout and disappeared into the clubhouse, returning with his jersey off and an AL champions shirt on. It’s more than suspicious t Altuve would be so aware to not let his uniform be torn off in the moment. The reason of him being shy was quickly proved wrong by all of the other images of his tearing his jersey off following other games and the latest reason from Correa of an ugly, unfinished tattoo seems more than ridiculous.

Three minutes and 14 seconds after Aaron Boone hit his 2003 ALCS Game 7 walk-off home run, he looked overwhelmed, not understanding the magnitude of what he had done. Boone couldn’t even complete full thoughts or sentences when talking to Curt Menefee on FOX.

“Wow … I can’t even talk … Silver lining … It’s unbelievable … Mo … So many heroes today and I just happened to run into one … You’ve gotta be kidding me … This is awesome.”

Boone had trouble speaking more than three minutes after hitting a pennant-winning home run, yet Altuve, before even reaching home plate, already had thought about not anting his jersey torn off and his first celebratory action was to go right to the clubhouse to change.

Sorry, Correa, I’m going to need a better story than an ugly, unfinished tattoo as the reason why Altuve acted the way he did following his home run.

The Astros should be banned from baseball. This will give baseball a black eye for years to come. – Jack

I don’t think they should have banned from baseball, but suspended or fined would have been better than nothing. Now if there’s any truth to the buzzer rumors and if those rumors are ever turned into fact, then yes, players need to be banned. If the buzzer rumors were to ever come to fruition, it would mean the commissioner and baseball were unable to discover it in their detailed investigation and it would mean every single member of the Astros would have lied to both the league office and the public about it. And oh yeah, it would also mean major league players were receiving vibrating signals on their body to know which pitch was coming. Aside from the White Sox throwing the 1919 World Series, it would be the worst scandal in the history of baseball. The steroid and performance-enhancing drug era would be nothing in comparison to cheating involving players wearing electronic devices.

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