The Houston Astros are easily the most hated team in baseball. You don’t have to do much research around the MLB to figure that one out. Their cheating scheme that was revealed to the world this past offseason has made it incredibly difficult to like them at all. Add in their attitudes and general trash-talking, and you just have a group of guys that you can’t help but not like.
MLB fans weren’t just unhappy with the fact that the Astros cheated their way to a title in 2017. Most were also very unhappy with the league’s light punishment issued to Houston. The fact that players were exempt from the punishment only made it more infuriating.
And now, months removed from this massive scandal, we might finally know why. In a lawsuit filed by former Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow, it has been alleged that MLB worked with the Astros on lighter punishments. The lawsuit reads as follows:
The commissioner vetted potential penalties with Crane, and the two exchanged a series of proposals. Those negotiations proved beneficial to Crane and the Astros. The commissioner allowed the Astros to keep their 2017 World Series championship, imposed a $5 million fine (a fraction of the revenues Crane had reaped as part of the team’s recent success), and took away four draft picks. He also issued a blanket vindication of Crane, absolving him of any responsibility for failing to supervise his club.
Luhnow was fired for his role in the Astros’ scandal and received a 1-year ban from baseball, which is now expired. The Astros also fired team manager AJ Hinch who has now been hired to manage the Detroit Tigers. Now Luhnow is going after the team and MLB for wrongful termination. He alleges that he did not know that the sign-stealing was happening and that commissioner Rob Manfred worked with owner Jim Crane to ensure his team would be able to field a competitive team in 2020.
Moreover, Crane and the Astros were assured of fielding a contending team in 2020 — the team advanced to the American League Championship Series for the fourth straight year — because the commissioner did not suspend or penalize any of the players who were directly involved in the scandal.
This will no doubt be in court for quite some time, and who knows how much truth there is to Luhnow’s claims. But if everything he is saying is true, MLB could be facing a bigger backlash than the original cheating scandal.
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