The baseball world is unhappy with the Houston Astros. The cheating scandal (Bang-gate? Not sure that one pops.) has so far cost three managers and one general manager their jobs, but the players who benefited from said cheating were given immunity during MLB’s investigation, so have more or less gotten away with it. The 2017 World Series title is going nowhere, and nor is, for instance, Jose Altuve’s MVP win. It’s not just about Houston’s accolades, either — it’s impossible to know just how much this scandal affected pitchers’ careers around the league, but the Astros’ massive drop in strikeout rate after the sign-stealing started suggests it can’t have been nothing.
The lack of accountability (or reasonable apologies) from the players has led to some suggestion that they’ll be targeted by their colleagues around MLB during the 2020 season. Indeed, new Astros manager Dusty Baker has already called for support from the league to prevent retaliation in advance:
I’m depending on the league to try to put a stop to the seemingly premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about. In most instances in life, you get kind of reprimanded when you have premeditated anything. I’m just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.
The retaliation we’re talking about here is the hit-by-pitch, the pitcher’s traditional tool of reprisal. This isn’t hypothetical, either — LA Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling has indicated that he’d be tempted to throw at the Astros if he saw them this season. So let’s be very clear: it is absurd to take revenge on hitters by throwing baseballs at them. It’s already dangerous enough to be in a batter’s box without pitchers piping in fastballs at you, and the increased risk of a fastball to the head is absolutely not worth it. Deliberate beanballs are practically assault. Don’t do it, pitchers!
There are better and less dubiously legal ways of showing one’s displeasure than giving away free (if painful) bases. Let’s come up with some:
- Fill every square inch of the visiting clubhouse with trash cans when Houston is in town.
- Have banging noises play at random during Astros' plate appearances.
Have your pitchers doctor the baseball with some sort of transparent glue in order to increase the spin on their pitches, which will give them an advantage over Astros batters.
- Replace the Astros team logo on the Jumbotron with a trash can.
- When you travel to Houston, secretly disassemble Minute Maid Park overnight.
- Leave manuals on how to give real apologies in their lockers.
- Buy Altuve some platform shoes.
- Win baseball games against them.
- Fill their hotel room toilets with jello.
- Turn off hot water to their showers.
- Find a way to add asterisk patches to Houston’s uniforms.
- Talk a lot of shit on social media.
But whatever you decide do to the Astros, please don’t throw at them.