MLB Hammers Astros with Historic Punishments After Cheating Probe

Astros owner Jim Crane hoists the 2017 World Series trophy

The league has undergone a thorough investigation into whether the Astros used electronic equipment to steal signs from opposing teams. The Astros won the World Series back in 2017 so their World Series appearance in 2019 was supposed to be a celebration of their continued growth.

Former assistant GM Brandon Taubman, who made insensitive remarks to women reporters after the ALCS, was suspended for one year.

As part of the league's penalty, the Astros will also lose first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and the organization was fined a record $5 million. You have to wonder if they'll work in baseball again.

■ Cora is not being punished yet because Major League Baseball is still conducting an investigation into allegations of a similar practice by the Red Sox in 2018.

Although MLB determined the sign-stealing was largely driven by players, former Astros bench coach and current Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was heavily implicated with setting up the system - a monitor and trash can in the dugout hallway. That wins games, but-to put it plainly-it sucks, and it's no fun, and it turned the entire country into Washington Nationals fans during the World Series.

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The Houston Astros have finally been punished. The NFL took away a first-round draft pick and suspended quarterback Tom Brady for four games. When the two teams met in the ALDS in 2018, the seeds of paranoia were planted so deep in the Indians' psyche that they seemed to be beaten before the series started with two games in Houston. The Astros will field a team in 2020-pitchers and catchers report on February 11!-and they need someone to lead it.

■ Players told investigators that had they been told to stop by Hinch, they would have stopped.

"Although Luhnow denies having any awareness that his replay review room staff was decoding and transmitting signs, there is both documentary and testimonial evidence that indicates Luhnow had some knowledge of those efforts, but he did not give it much attention", Manfred said.

This is a huge blow for the Astros although it's certainly an expected one. That was not enough to stop the Astros and undoubtedly several other teams who had the good fortune to escape Manfred's wrath following a November story by the Athletic that revealed Houston's journey to the dark side. Now they've lost in a big, big way. It's just $3.99 a month, which works out to about 13 cents a day.

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