Angry fans and players are putting Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred on notice for his weak response to the Houston Astros after the team admitted cheating to win the 2017 World Series.
While the team’s manager and general manager were suspended and then fired, the players who cheated were not punished. Instead, they received immunity in exchange for detailing the team’s elaborate sign-stealing scheme that allowed hitters to know which pitches were coming.
Now, many people are demanding more punitive action, with some suggesting that the league strip the team of its championship title and take away individual awards, including Jose Altuve’s MVP.
In recent days, some of the biggest names in the sport have come down hard on Manfred. Angels superstar Mike Trout said he “lost respect” for some of the Astros’ players and called out Manfred for not punishing them.
“Taking a trophy away, taking the rings away,” Trout told the Athletic. “I think they should definitely do something.”
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who lost the MVP title that year to Altuve, said he deleted a tweet congratulating his rival. Asked if Houston should be stripped of the title, Judge said the World Series trophy “just doesn’t hold any value, you cheated and you didn’t earn it.”
Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the reigning National League MVP, dismissed Manfred’s punishment ― or lack thereof ― as “weak.”
“These guys were cheating for three years,” Bellinger said. “I think what people don’t realize is Altuve stole an MVP from Judge in ’17, everyone knows they stole a ring from us.”
Bellinger’s teammate, Justin Turner, ripped Manfred as “out of touch.”
Outside of baseball, NBA superstar LeBron James called for more action as well. James, who played for three championship teams himself, tweeted that he would be “F*^king irate” if someone cheated him out of a title.
“I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do!” he wrote, urging Manfred to “listen to the players” and take action.
“Literally the ball is in your court (or should I say field) and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports!” he wrote.
Fans and players have also been venting on Twitter:
I wrote a month ago that I was not in favor of MLB stripping the Astros of their title. I was open minded to Correa saying they didn’t use trash cans in World Series. After hearing Manfred say they absolutely did use it in the playoffs, I’ve changed my mind. Strip the title now.
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) February 18, 2020
Theresponse by the MLB Commissioner has been total, utter BS.
Players who ACTIVELY cheated in the game have not been punished. Strip them of the title, suspend players involved, and ban Astros from post season for as many seasons as they cheated. Anything less is shameful https://t.co/uEWhl0c17B
— Colin Hanks (@ColinHanks) February 17, 2020
Dark day for baseball. The mishandling of this cheating scandal cannot be overstated. It’s impact will effect the game for years to come
— Phil Hughes (@PJHughes45) February 16, 2020
Manfred says he didn’t strip Astros of title because “the idea of…asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile idea.” Really? The WS championship is just a piece of metal? The corporate commish still doesn’t have a clue https://t.co/w1xSB5obwr
— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) February 16, 2020
Question I most want to hear at the debate: “Should the Houston Astros be stripped of their 2017 World Series title?” If all the Democrats duck the question, it means they think Texas is in play this fall.
— Jeff Greenfield (@greenfield64) February 19, 2020
How to effectively deal with the #Astros:
• Take back the 2017 WS title
• Suspend all players involved 50 games
• Strip their individual awards from 2017
• Loss of draft picks for two years
• Ineligible for 2020 postseason
It’s not that fucking hard. Set a damn example.
— Dan (@DanClarkSports) February 19, 2020
Manfred needs to revise his decision or he’s going to lose (even further) the support of the players and fans of our great national pastime … and the respect of elite athletes everywhere.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) February 18, 2020
After listening to all the interviews from the Astros, it’s pretty sad that they in my opinion have no remorse at all. And for the Commissioner to say their was no hard evidence is Crap. And not to punish any players???? Is absurd #usuckatyourjobrob.
— david wells (@BoomerWells33) February 16, 2020
Rob Manfred says that Astros players told him the garbage can signaling went on in the 2017 postseason
So like… why didn’t you strip them of the World Series title then? pic.twitter.com/aXpjSTBjrm
— Kyle ⚾️ (@KyleNYY) February 18, 2020
Pissed off LeBron AND Trout wow
— Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD) February 18, 2020
How do the Astros still have a World Series title they wholly cheated to win?
I mean, this is ridiculous at this point.
Strip the title and move on.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) February 16, 2020
This is killing me:
“I understand the reaction. The players . . . have said they did the wrong thing. And I understand that people want to see them punished for that, and in a perfect world, they would have been punished.”
YOU ARE THE ONE WHO DECIDED NOT TO PUNISH THEM
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) February 16, 2020
The swarm of locusts will remain until you do the right thing.
Vacate the @astros World Series Championship.
They shamed baseball with an institutional failure of integrity.
Nothing less will do.
— MLB Jesus (@MLBJesus) February 18, 2020