Can the Astros move forward yet?

On a gloomy, rainy Monday night a few weeks ago, after a long production night in the broadcast room of the Newswire Live radio show, I returned to my University Station apartment. 

I pulled out my phone and opened the ESPN app to check the trending stories for the day, as many of my fellow sports fans do. That’s when I noticed the second highest trending story was about my favorite MLB team, the Houston Astros.

After a poor Game 7 outing, along with the team’s prolific offense being locked down by former Astro Pitcher Charlie Mortonand and their subsequent elimination from the playoffs, I had already heard enough negative press about my team. 

I brushed off the story about former Astros General Manager Jeff Lunhow exonerating himself from the sign stealing scandal that shook the baseball world last year, deeming it unimportant in my mind at the time.

Then, a few weeks went by, and Lunhow followed his statement that he was scapegoated by the organization with a formal lawsuit against the Houston Astros organization, claiming breach of contract. 

In addition, former Astros manager AJ Hinch and former bench coach Alex Cora, two of the main people indicted in the cheating scandal, both received jobs in the MLB as the managers for Detroit and Boston, respectively.

Based on all of these facts, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something to Lunhow’s claims of foul play. So I decided to look back on his first public statements since his suspension. Lunhow said there were over 22,000 text messages used in the investigation of the Astros that clearly exonerate him of wrongdoing.

While this may be true, it’s important to notice that just because these texts may have exonerated him, it was not necessarily his culpability in the scandal that was in question when he was suspended, according to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. 

Manfred said in a response to Lunhow, “After the Red Sox incident (the year prior), I wrote to all the GMs. I put them on notice that it was their obligation to make sure that their organizations were not violating any of the sign stealing rules.”

If this is the case, it’s clear that Lunhow is indeed guilty and his suspension was warranted. That said, there was a more troubling claim about those text messages Lunhow mentioned. He claimed that there were individuals who were clearly indicted by the messages but were not punished and still serve in a prominent role on the team. 

There’s nothing that I want more than for the sign stealing scandal to be a distant memory for the Astros, and if Lunhow is correct here, the team should act urgently to remove these individuals from the organization.

There’s one last matter about the sign stealing scandal that it’s important for me to address. Last year, I wrote an opinion piece detailing how the Astros should not have their World Series title rescinded, should they prove that they deserved to be there in 2020 without cheating. 

While the Astros did not quite live up to second baseman Jose Altuve’s claim that they would make it to the World Series, they made it within one game of the title game, which showed me they had enough skill to earn the team’s trust again. 

But one of Lunhow’s final claims is that his firing was part of a negotiated deal between Astros owner Jim Crane and commissioner Manfred to not rescind the title. 

I would be willing to get behind the idea that maybe our title should be rescinded if it’s revealed in Lunhow’s court case that there was a brokered deal to keep the title.

At the end of the day, I just want the Astros to put the scandal behind them and move on. They need to move on from the perpetrators of the sign stealing, and they may need to move on from their one and only World Series title, if that’s what it takes to finally move forward.