Houston Astros: How the team should handle adversity amid their scandal

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros have received a significant punishment for their role in a scandal. Here’s how they should proceed against adversity moving forward.

The MLB handed down their punishment over the Houston Astros‘ sign-stealing scandal and it has sent manager AJ Hinch and general Jeff Luhnow out the door. With the season approaching, the goal for the Houston Astros should change from bringing a World Series to overcoming adversity and facing the storm head-on.

To paraphrase Houston Astros‘ player Dallas Keuchel, disappointment is a bit of an understatement. I have not spoken much about this publicly because I’m sure like most of y’all, I’m not happy.

To think that the greatest sporting moment of my life, or our lives for that matter, has been tarnished because of the immaturity that was going on during the season really has me sick. Sure, we knew there would be a major fine. We knew there would be loss of draft picks and we especially knew there would be suspensions. All three of those were confirmed to us on Monday.

But then came the issue of the championship. Does it get stripped? Louisville’s men’s basketball team had theirs stripped from 2013 because of their own scandal. I’ve always been against the idea of stripping banners because it’s basically erasing history.

Everyone will always remember USC’s appearance in the epic Rose Bowl against Texas, to which the Longhorns won. Yet, USC has nothing to show for it in their memorabilia right now. That subject has become a problem in today’s society such as removing statues because of the figure’s ties to issues that might not be accepted today. You can’t really erase history from this world. But you certainly can learn from it.

Getting back on track, in some ways, I’m glad the title is here to stay (for now) even if it’s going to be a long time for the taint to wipe off if not ever. But still, as much as I wanted to see a team win the World Series, I would’ve preferred winning it without any trouble.

Sure, I thought about giving it up and saying we have zero titles in spite of the scandal. But that would really be selfish of me to say that. Even so, I still think with or without the techniques, we would’ve beaten the Dodgers in 2017 regardless because you still have to hit the ball. Now, all the skeptics and haters can waste their time and say what they want to, but history (erased or not) has us beating them in 2017.

Still, it makes me really angry and embarrassed to be a fan right now. Having to these incredible players having to cope with the public fallout from this when we know how much they meant to us during Hurricane Harvey and afterward.

I have to control my anger over the stupid negative stuff that’s about to be said, fair or unfair, and just let it happen since they put themselves in this. It makes me upset that now, I have to say I’m a fan of three teams: one that can’t get to the AFC title game, one that has the best scorer that can’t get to the NBA Finals and one that now has a question about their integrity as an organization.

Of course, the Houston Astros took a big step when owner Jim Crane fired both manager Hinch and general manager Luhnow. This was a big move because while it was revealed in the reports that neither knew or started the scandal, they failed to put a stop to it and that’s just as irresponsible as starting it.

Hinch and Luhnow were going to be suspended for 2020 anyway. If they came back in 2021, they would have the scandal on their legacies and that could’ve been just as much of a distraction as they’re dealing with right now. So Jim Crane did the right thing by letting them go even though it was a difficult choice.

With the punishment out of the way, the next step is how to handle what’s coming while the team strives for another crack at the World Series. The Houston Astros still remain one of the favorites to win it all, but still, the questions they need to answer first are what to do to avoid making the same mistake again.

I’m not going to lie, my expectations have dimmed for 2020 not because the team isn’t as good even though it doesn’t compare to 2019.

But how they can handle the adversity is another question. We’ve seen it time and time again where the after-effects of the scandal have hindered the organizations:

  • Southern Methodist University’s football team suffered the death penalty for repeated cases of boosters paying the athletes and didn’t return for two seasons. They haven’t been as close to the national title contenders since.
  • The Saints failed to make the playoffs in 2012 following Bountygate, where players took money in hopes to knock out the quarterback.
  • It took Baylor’s football team four seasons to go from a train wreck to a respectable program after the sexual assault case.
  • The 1919 Chicago White Sox, which saw eight players banned for allegedly throwing the World Series, saw their franchise go 88 years before they won another World Series.
  • The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team saw their program put on probation for a few seasons before going on an Elite Eight run in 1992 and winning a national title in 1996.
  • The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl even with Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of the season.

I can’t promise that it’s going to be 88 years without another title or that we’ll win it all this year. But as I said in my new year’s resolutions for each of the Houston franchises, the Houston Astros will have to wear a black hat for the time being. It sucks that we have to deal with this and as much as we would like to counter those that will strike the franchise with negativity, toughness will need to be there.

Who the new Houston Astros manager and general manager will be of interesting choices. Early reports have said bench coach Joe Espada would be the interim manager, which I think would be a wise option since he knows the players as well. But Crane has also said he will explore external candidates as well.

At the end of the day, all of us can wonder how the team will respond to this. I said they had to

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play angry in 2020 and there’s a reason now that they should. But can they continue to play like they always had (camera or no camera) in all three phases of the game: offense, defense, pitching, and still make the playoffs in spite of the storm of negativity?

I can’t say what’s to come in 2020. I wish I could travel back in time and tell this team to stop what they’re doing. I can only hope that I do see another title from this team in the near future or before I or all of us fans leave this world.

But first and foremost, the reputations of the franchise are in limbo and most certainly need to clean up. Until the trust is there with the team, consider this fan in a crossroads. I love this team, but I’m ashamed of how everything went down. Now, I feel we need to win another title to erase the memory of 2017 and sadly, I don’t know how long that’s going to be.

Next. Astros: A confession of a disappointed and concerned fan. dark

Jim Crane made the call that it’s time to move on.

Okay Astros, it’s time prove to us that you’re still a contender.

And this time, do it the right way.