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Astros: Three key takeaways from MLB sign stealing report

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 13: AJ Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros and Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox shake hands prior to Game One of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 13, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 13: AJ Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros and Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox shake hands prior to Game One of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 13, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 06: Carlos Beltran #15 of the Houston Astros runs after hitting a single in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox during game two of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 6, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 06: Carlos Beltran #15 of the Houston Astros runs after hitting a single in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox during game two of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 6, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Players Get Off Scot Free

This is where most of the actual culpability lies. The report noted that “Most of the position players on the 2017 team either received sign information from the banging scheme or participated in the scheme by helping to decode signs or bang on the trash can.”

The entire scheme was largely player-driven, as it was a group of players who came to Astros bench coach Alex Cora with a desire to find better ways to steal signs. It was the players who primarily ran it, and of course it was the players who primarily benefited from it.

So where’s their punishment? Well, it’s not coming. In fact, the only position player actually named in the report is Carlos Beltran, and he’s now retired. There is no discussion about which players were involved or which ones were the primary culprits, and there is no attempt by the commissioner to discipline any players even though they knew what they were doing was wrong.

Why? Well, for one, the commissioner deemed it impractical. Given the fact that a handful of players were involved and that it would have been difficult to determine which ones were more responsible than others, and that some of them now play for other teams, Manfred decided to hold Luhnow and Hinch responsible.

But there’s also another reason he won’t admit to. Issuing discipline to players would have drawn the attention of the Players Association, and that’s not a fight Manfred likely wants with CBA negotiations coming up. So for the people most responsible for the actual violations, their union has effectively served to get them off the hook.

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