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Published February 25, 2020

THE VIEW FROM MY SEAT

Astros, return the 2017 title

By Ernie Williamson / The Bulletin

The fallout from baseball’s worst period since the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal continues to build, and all attempts by the Houston Astros to salvage the situation have failed.

It’s time for a radical idea. I suggest the Astros players, who escaped punishment, have a team meeting and vote to surrender the title they won.

Sound desperate? Please consider how bad things have gotten.

I have been a fan for years and watched almost every game on television. However, this season I am having trouble getting excited. Should I feel pride in a team that cheated? Should I root for players that let me down?

In my mind, the Astros had a chance to redeem themselves at the beginning of spring training, but they blew the save opportunity.
Owner Jim Crane, who I thought acted appropriately earlier by firing his general manager and manager, now issued a half-hearted apology at a news conference that was laughable.

“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” Crane said of the sign-stealing scheme that helped the Astros take down the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Seconds later, Crane was asked what he meant by that.

“I didn’t say it didn’t impact the game, “ he said.

Crane should be in Washington, D.C.

Texas Rangers’ outfielder Willie Calhoun, in a fanciful moment, tweeted that Astros’ pitchers should “let us know what pitches are coming and see how much it doesn’t impact the game.”

I was embarrassed for Crane. It was then painful to watch two favorites - Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve - follow with the right words, but they were uttered without conviction or much remorse.

That bungled press conference didn’t exactly fill me with pride. And it made things across the baseball world much worse.

New manager Dusty Baker is worried opposing pitchers will be throwing at Astros hitters.

Little League organizations in the Los Angeles area have decided to ban “Astros” as a team name.

“Parents are disgusted,” Steve Klaus, the Long Beach Little League president, said. “They are disgusted with the Astros and their lack of ownership and accountability. “ Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner, tried to calm things down by giving his reason for not punishing the players. They were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony, he explained.

Mike Trout, the respected Los Angeles Angels’ three-time MVP, isn’t buying that explanation. He ripped the Astros and questioned the discipline handed out by Major League Baseball.

“It is sad for baseball,” Trout said. “It’s tough. They cheated. I don’t agree with the punishments, the players not getting anything. It was a player-driven thing. It sucks, too, because guys’ careers have been affected. A lot of people lost their jobs.”

As I see it, the Astros have a choice. They can slowly regain some respect from opposing players and fans by voting to vacate their title, or they can keep their World Series rings and be reminded every day that they earned them by cheating.

MLB may not allow the Astros to surrender the title, and many of their fans would be upset if they did, but at least we would know that the Astros players are truly remorseful.

Then I could watch them this year with some pride restored, not the guilt I am going to feel watching confessed cheaters.

(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)