Major League Baseball has no choice but to get to the bottom of sign-stealing operations, spurred on by a bombshell report earlier this week implicating the 2017 Houston Astros. With each video-taped tipoff that emerges, the franchise looks worse and worse and plausible deniability went out the window long ago.
One has to figure there will be significant repercussions. ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that, oh yeah, there will be heck to pay.
"The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport's recent history, sources said."
The St. Louis Cardinals were dinged $2 million and top high-end draft picks in 2017 after being caught stealing information from Houston Astros' computers. It's most severe punishment in the Rob Manfred era and, considering the seriousness of this latest offense, nowhere near punitive enough.
Doling out penalty for this type of thing is tricky, largely because it's unprecedented. Anyone with any notion that the championship will be vacated should feel free to bring his or her head out of the clouds any time.
So what is a starting point? Like Worm opening up the action at the Sheriff's game in Rounders, here's a place to start.
Considering the malfeasance took place in Houston and created an unfair homefield advantage, what if they were denied equal opportunities to do so in the future? My proposition is to take away a number of the Astros' home games in the years to come.
How would that work? It depends on how many games we're talking, and the timeframe. My initial thought was 29 over two years. That'd be one game for every other franchise not caught red-handed. Those other teams would get the privilege of hosting Houston for a home game.
That would mean instead of 81 home games this year, the Astros would get 67. Next year? 66. Every other MLB team would gain one home game against the punished franchise. The American League would go first, then the National League so the race for best record would remain fair.
Drastic? A little bit. But this is a very big deal, even if other teams have done it in the past. Whataboutism only goes so far when it comes to the sentencing phase. Baseball and Rob Manfred need to send a strong message that such flagrant disregard for the rules won't be tolerated.
Take away some of the home games. Hit Houston in both the pocketbook and on the field. Fans, of course, will have to pay the brunt of it. They won't ever realize it's their own team's fault, but it is.
There's a starting point. More than welcome to hear counters.