The Astros’ cheating scandal has taken over headlines since former Astro Mike Fiers first made allegations against the team in November 2019. Talk about the scandal bubbled up again in recent weeks as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released the results of the MLB investigation and issued penalties for the team.
On the surface, it seems like the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal and negative publicity is a bad thing for the league. If you really think about it, though, it could be good for baseball. Here’s why.
Any publicity is good for baseball
Yes, the scandal seems to give baseball a black eye as some people question the “integrity of the game.” But the event has got people talking about baseball. This doesn’t always happen in the offseason — especially during the NFL playoffs.
There’s a famous saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” This means all of the media attention MLB is getting — regardless of the reason — is good for the league.
Not only are sports networks like ESPN covering the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. But the’ newscasts also reported on the punishments Manfred handed down. The scandal seemed to get more media attention than even Derek Jeter and Larry Walker entering the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Baseball’s not ‘America’s Pastime’ anymore
Decades ago, baseball earned the nickname “America’s Pastime.” It was largely considered to be the most popular pro sports league in the U.S. That is no longer the case, as the NFL is the king of American sports. Plus, the NBA may even be more popular than MLB now.
National TV ratings for baseball are down; people don’t want to sit down for more than three hours to watch a game. The scandal could help boost the ratings this season and may even increase game attendance. People know there’s no way the Astros will cheat this season after the penalties.
Given that fact, more casual fans may be more interested in watching this season. They may watch Houston games to see if they still play the way they did — without unfair advantages. More hardcore MLB fans who don’t watch Astros games could be more likely to tune into them because of the curiosity factor.
The championship adds to the intrigue
Adding to the intrigue: It happened in the season when the Astros won its first World Series. The added layer of the championship season makes people more interested in the potential aftermath this coming season. Can the Astros prove they’re good even when they’re not stealing signs?
The World Series aspect of this has even gotten the government involved, reports NBC. The city council in Los Angeles voted unanimously to request that the MLB strip the Astros of the title and award it to the Dodgers, who lost in the World Series that year. Nothing was going to come from the request. But it shows that having champions involved in cheating goes beyond the sports world.
LA politicians had even more reason to be upset; the Dodgers also lost the 2018 World Series to the Red Sox, who are being investigated by the league for possible cheating.