MLB

Why Did an MLB Player Offer to Give Back His World Series Ring?

One of the few Houston Astros players with plausible deniability regarding the sign-stealing scandal is also one of the few players who has said he would surrender a cherished reward that goes along with winning a World Series championship.

Former Astros closer Ken Giles, who now pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays, told a reporter he would give back his championship ring if that’s what is needed to be done.

No Astros players have been punished

The scandal that Major League Baseball investigated involved Houston Astros batters. Taking advantage of video feeds, Houston players stole signs from opposing catchers and relayed information to Astros batters on what pitch was to expect by banging on a garbage can in the dugout runway.

Astros pitchers didn’t benefit directly from what their hitters did. Relievers like Ken Giles who spent nearly all their time in the bullpen may not have been aware of the extent of the cheating or how effective it was.

Commissioner Rob Manfred handed down penalties in January that included a $5 million fine, the loss of draft picks, and the suspension of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were subsequently fired by the team.

Manfred didn’t punish any Astros players or impose the one sanction that many fans and media commentators wanted – vacating the Astros’ 2017 World Series championship. Stripping Houston of the title would presumably mean having players return their playoff shares and their championship rings.

Ken Giles saved 34 games for the 2017 Houston Astros

Strictly speaking, Ken Giles did benefit from the Houston Astros’ cheating by having more games to save. He appeared in 63 regular-season games in 2017, recording 34 saves and striking out 83 batters in 63 innings.

Giles was less effective in the postseason, going 0-2 with two saves in seven appearances. He had an 11.74 ERA, threw three wild pitches and didn’t pitch again after opening the door to a five-run ninth inning for the Los Angeles Dodgers in game 4.

Still, Giles was voted a full winners’ share of $438,901.57 and was presented his World Series ring in a ceremony in Houston the following April.

Giles, who was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays midway through the 2018 season, maintains he did not know his teammates were stealing signs. But he also told the Toronto Star he wouldn’t put up a fight if MLB tried taking away the Astros’ rings.

 “Whatever they ask, I would oblige. Because what was going on at the time was not OK.”


Former Astros pitcher Ken Giles

Fallout from the Houston Astros scandal

Giles is only the second 2017 Astros player to say he would give the ring back. The first was fellow pitcher Mike Fiers, who exposed the cheating in an interview with The Athletic last November.

Fiers, who is entering his second full season with the Oakland A’s, has been subjected to criticism by some current and past players for being the whistleblower.

Retired Astro Carlos Beltran has taken the biggest hit by a player due to the scandal. Beltran was hired last November to manage the New York Mets but the player and team agreed 11 weeks later to part ways in light of him being the only player called out by name in commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the scandal.

On the field, seven Houston Astros were hit by pitches in the first six exhibition games this spring. The first to be hit was 2017 American League MVP Jose Altuve, whose walk-off home run in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees advanced Houston to the World Series.

“I feel awful, how the guys are being punished. They’re great people, they really are, and great ballplayers. But I guess sometimes you just have to roll with it. Either be quiet or speak up and tell the truth. Go out there and perform, show them what you’re made of.”

Former Astros pitcher Ken Giles