It's largely accepted the the Houston Astros have been cheating in major league baseball, recently. My timelines have been awash with what the punishments should be. However, few are discussing the equal and opposite topic. How should baseball limit cheating in the future?
I'm no fan of selective enforcement. If Rob Manfred determines precisely what the Astros did, the punishment should fit the action. Then, teams can assess if the benefit (an increased chance at a title) is of more or less value than a loss of a few future pieces, and a mild cash fee (a punishment that is too slight almost encourages inappropriate behavior).
To prevent cheating in the future, baseball will need to have better control over locker rooms, bullpens, and facilities. Any organization ought to know the best/safest way to cheat in their own venue, whether they choose to or not. Knowledge along those lines limits the likelihood of being sabotaged. To give a clear signal that cheating won't be tolerated, baseball should hire people with the ability to assess anything clearly wrong, or mildly suspicious.
How would that be accomplished? A bit of a trip my brother and I took from Rockford to Madison was talking about Manfred and baseball. We agreed that the league has a few options. One is to hope it goes away, and nobody tries to cheat in the future. Another would be to hire in the range of 50-60, for lack of a better term, overseers. Each MLB game ought to have two people on hand, one for each team.
They can take notes, before during, and after. In theory, if something is amiss, both can be on the prowl in regards to one team’s actions. If a player thinks the opposition is doing something inappropriate, he shouldn’t have to wait until the next day or week to vent to an actual person. Otherwise, the cheating will be able to hang on a bit longer due to lack of enforcement by the league.
How much should future punishments be? The Commissioner’s first call will be used as both a precedent and a measuring stick. If hijacking a World Series trophy “by any means possible” merely costs a low seven-figure fine and a draft pick or two, I’d want the Cubs to upgrade their thievery skills. Preventing this calls for something more severe.
I have no special expertise on any angle of the cheat game, but I’m interested in your thoughts. What would qualify as ‘prevention’? Isn’t it amusing that making the game look squared on the cheating angle will cost sufficiently more than a minor league affiliate squad per season? What recommendations would you provide to anyone trying to make the game look less hinky? It’s going to take some time and discussion, and the headlines I’ve seen haven’t been coming remotely close to fixing any angle of cheating. Sure, punish the guilty, but make it easier for a frustrated pitcher to let someone know when their opponent is gaming the game. What are your thoughts on fixing the cheating nightmare?