Survey: Most MLB Fans Believe Players Should Be Punished
More than half of MLB fans believe Astros players "should have been penalized along with team management in the aftermath of the sign-stealing scandal that has gripped the game over the past week," according to a survey cited by ESPN.com. The survey, which was conducted by Global Strategy Group among 1,010 adults, 810 of whom were MLB fans, showed that 58% of adults "responded that the Astros players should have been penalized" by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. The vast majority of those polled said that they "would support MLB taking additional steps to punish players who were involved in sign stealing." The survey also showed 61% of MLB fans said that they are "closely following" the Astros and Red Sox situations, though most Americans said that the "doping/steroids scandal was worse than the current sign-stealing scandal." While over half of Americans view both the Astros (56%) and Red Sox (52%) "less favorably in light of the scandals, the negative impact is less severe for MLB, the players and the owners, with 54% saying their views of MLB itself are unchanged and 53% saying their views of the players haven't changed." Meanwhile, 60% of adults and MLB fans alike said that the scandals "make no difference in their likelihood to watch MLB games, around a third of fans say they are less likely to watch the Astros or Red Sox" (ESPN.com, 1/18).
HOW TO PREVENT A REPEAT: In Boston, Christopher Gasper wrote for sign-stealing to "stop, players need to feel the pinch and the pain too," otherwise all of this is "just empty posturing." Gasper: "What kind of message does that send, especially when the players are the ones who stand to benefit the most from sign-stealing? If Manfred really wants to root out information-age cheating, he has to flog the players too and create a deterrent for crossing the line that they can't ignore" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/18). In Toronto, Gregor Chisholm wrote under the header, "Players' Punishment In Sign-Stealing Scandal Will Come From Public Opinion, And From Their Peers" (TORONTO STAR, 1/17). In Columbus, Rob Oller asked, "What of the players who appear to be getting off easy?" Fans should "mention their names as often a possible next season in association with the scandal" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/18).
MONEY MATTERS: In N.Y., Ken Davidoff wrote one reason Manfred and the league "must work as hard as possible to eradicate illegal sign-stealing: gambling." If MLB wants to "sell the gambling community on the lure of betting on every at-bat, or even on every pitch, then those matchups need to be as pure as possible" (N.Y. POST, 1/19). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "I find it hard to believe that only the Astros and the Red Sox did this." He added, "Smart guys run baseball now, Ivy League graduates. They believe in two things. They believe in analytics and they believe in technology, and they push and they push, and at some point the walls of fair play and rules come tumbling down. They did that" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/17).
RENEWED HOPE FOR MINORS? In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote there are some who "believe Manfred's banishment" of former Astros President of Baseball Operations & GM Jeff Luhnow is a "sign that a compromise may be in the offing in MLB's war with the minor leagues." Luhnow was the "mastermind behind the plan to eliminate 42 minor league teams, including all the short season leagues, and move the draft from June to August, with the clubs then setting up 'analytics' factories at their spring training complexes where the new draftees would be sent" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/19).