The Houston Astros’ cheating scandal has drawn outright anger from baseball fans and players alike. Both active and retired players have been extremely vocal about their frustrations with the Astros, as well as Major League Baseball’s handling of the entire situation.
Mike Fiers, who has been labeled as the “whistleblower” for being the first to openly speak about the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme, has been the target of much of this criticism. Just a few days ago former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz spoke out against Fiers for his decision to expose the Astros when he did, going as far as to call Fiers a “snitch” for his actions.
“After you make your money, after you get your ring, you decide to talk about it?” Ortiz said Thursday at the Red Sox’s spring training camp in Fort Myers, Florida.
“You look like you’re a snitch. Why you gotta talk about it after? That’s my problem: Why nobody said anything while it was going on.”
Ortiz isn’t the only player to feel this way about Fiers. After all, it’s fair to point out that Fiers didn’t speak up about what the Astros were doing until after he left the team and collected his 2017 World Series ring with them. Fiers himself is still feeling the repercussions of his actions, as he revealed that he has been receiving death threats since being revealed as the whistleblower in the Astros’ cheating scandal.
“Whatever, I don’t care,” Fiers said to the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday. “I’ve dealt with a lot of death threats before. It’s just another thing on my plate.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred assured that the league would do everything in its power to keep Fiers safe during the 2020 season.
“We will take every possible step to protect Mike Fiers wherever he’s playing, whether it’s in Houston or somewhere else,” Manfred said at a press conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I want to be really clear about this. Mike, who I do not know at all, did the industry a service. I do believe that we will be a better institution when we emerge at the end of this episode, and without a Mike Fiers, we probably would’ve had a very difficult time cleaning this up. It would’ve taken longer. I think we would’ve done it eventually, but it would’ve taken a lot longer. And I have a real problem with anybody who suggests that Mike did anything other than the right thing.”
Manfred has faced a lot of criticism himself this offseason for the way he has handled this scandal, and rightfully so. However, what Manfred said about Fiers is completely accurate, and it’s a sentiment that should be echoed throughout the industry.
Could Fiers have spoken up sooner instead of waiting until he was no longer with Houston? Of course. That said, at least he had the guts to say anything at all. There were 24 other players on that 2017 Houston Astros roster who chose not to say anything. Worse yet, a good number of those other players likely chose not to say anything because they were actually benefiting from the sign-stealing scheme that they orchestrated.
and Marwin Gonzalez
, two players who were also key members of that 2017 World Series team, are prime examples of what it looks like when you bite your tongue and later regret doing so. Gonzalez, Morton, and even Dallas Keuchel
, all of whom are now with new teams, have publicly apologized
for allowing the cheating to go on and not speaking out against it earlier.
People like Ortiz can call Fiers a snitch all they want, but what would they prefer? At least he said something, as opposed to players like Gonzalez and Morton who kept silent and then waited three years to apologize.
Manfred has received a lot of backlash from other players based on the fact that he chose not to punish any individual Astros player involved in the scandal. This is a completely fair criticism, but what these players are forgetting is how their own union would’ve reacted had Manfred decided to punish the Astros players. The Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA) is the most formidable union in the entire sports world.
Had Manfred tried to suspend the likes of Carlos Correa
or Jose Altuve
the MLBPA would have interjected, closed ranks, and likely sued MLB. They might have even gone as far as to threaten a strike. This is where the hypocrisy of the players, both active and former, really comes through. They publicly criticize Manfred and Fiers for their actions, but none of them would’ve had the guts that Fiers had to speak up for risk of being labeled a snitch. Likewise, the MLBPA would have skewered Manfred if he actually attempted to levy punishments on individual players.
At the end of the day, this will go down as perhaps the worst cheating scandal in MLB history, but the more players whine and groan about how it was handled the more hypocritical they look. Neither Rob Manfred nor Mike Fiers has acted perfectly in the midst of this scandal, but at least they did something, which is more than can be said for the other members of the 2017 Houston Astros