The Astros punishment: Tim and Laura debate stripping their title

The Houston Astros cheated during the season that they won the World Series.

Sometimes Tim and Laura agree on topics; lots of times they don’t. We thought we’d bring you in on the discussion they had on this one.

Should the Astros have had their title stripped?

the big picture

Tim:

Competition can make us both confident and humble—in one day or even one play. It can bring together people of different races, social class and culture. It can make us more resilient as individuals and more cohesive as a society.

But, competition has to have a level playing field.

When a team cheats, the games that were played have no value. The Astros’ wins need to be vacated, and the World Series title stripped.

Laura:

Competition pushes athletes to the absolute brink and sometimes they step over the line. When that happens, rules and penalties bring them back. All around us, people go too far–whether in business, law enforcement, politics, health care, and endless other areas–and as a society we rely on rules and punishments to maintain order and fairness.

We can’t go back in time and undo the series.

Think of all the individual moments that make up the game; the collective moments that make up the experience for the fan. Fans show up over and over, believing in the game and its outcome, trusting in its integrity. We can’t tell them that those moments they trusted and felt deeply meant nothing.

Instead, we can and should rely on punishments to keep players in line in the future.

the PED perspective

Tim:

Performance Enhancing Drugs gave Barry Bonds the edge to break the home run record. He still holds it. Alex Rodriquez used PEDs when he broke records for home runs and grand slams, and went on to play for seven more years after admitting his guilt. His records remain in the books. Manny Ramirez still has his World Series titles. We don’t look at all those records and think… that was a great couple of decades in baseball. Those records are almost irrelevant because of PEDs.

Laura:

How do you unravel the effect of one player–or even several players–on a title? Not all the Astros participated in the scandal, and, for those who did, the adults in the room are assigned the responsibility for their actions.

there’s money at stake

Tim:

How about the guys that lost to the Astros in an unfair game? How about their careers? Would they be compensated more if they’d won that title?

Part of the criminal justice system is punishment but there’s also the idea that you can’t profit from crimes. What about money made as a result of the title?

Laura:

It’s about trying to punish through future hardships. Anything else is too messy and complicated and maybe even unfair. How can you quantify a hypothetical future earning?

we expect precision in referee calls

Tim:

We can look at plays, through a camera, from every angle, and then come to a conclusion to overturn an on-field decision in order get the most fair game possible. We’re going to go through all that, and then let guys get away with banging on garbage cans?

Laura:

Yup, it’s awful. And hard to sort out.

Tim:

Hard to sort out?

It’s hard to sort out the effects of immigration. It’s hard to sort out the origins of global climate change. It’s hard to sort out the crap that’s been sitting in the bottom drawer of my refrigerator because it’s all covered in mold. It’s not hard to sort out who was banging on garbage cans and what they won from doing it.

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