D.A.: Almost Everything Is Wrong With Baseball Right Now

The Astros' sign-stealing scandal has revealed just how lost baseball truly is, D.A. writes

Damon Amendolara
February 21, 2020 - 11:15 am

Unless you subscribe to the theory that all publicity is good publicity, baseball is sinking into the ocean at the moment. The commissioner has quickly become a pinata, the players are at war with one another, and the game itself is under suspicion over what is legitimate. 

Rob Manfred had already been tasked to stabilize baseball at a combustible time. Gen Z has gravitated away from the slow-paced sport as television numbers have fallen. Fewer young people are playing baseball, and some of the best athletes are often scared off due to the cost of travel teams. Manfred has responded by tinkering with pace-of-play changes like three batter minimums and pitch clocks.  

But Manfred's misfortune of walking into a technological hornet's nest has made everything else look like child's play. His clumsy explanation of punishment (lack thereof) and devaluing the World Series trophy as "a piece of metal" has made him seem completely out of touch

The players have seized on this perceived weakness. The Astros have harangued him for his report, and the other 29 teams pounded him for not penalizing the cheaters. Manfred has no allies right now, and as every player lines up to take a swipe he looks like the hapless principal getting chocolate milk poured over his head by 5th graders at the school assembly. 

David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez have called out Mike Fiers' as a "snitch" and a "bad teammate," once again shedding light on baseball's absurd unwritten rules. Despite widespread anger for the Astros from almost every opponent, two of the most influential voices in the sport are shaming the person who put all this in motion. How does it make sense for Kris Bryant, Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger to publicly shred the Astros, while Papi and Pedro insist it should've been kept a secret? 

Should Manfred have punished the Astros? Of course. But it doesn't seem like any of the players calling for it have a concrete idea how. If they think Manfred should've suspended the Astros, their union would've stepped in the way. Would Trout, Judge, and Bellinger have been critical of the MLBPA if it stonewalled all the suspensions? Much like the Steroid Era, the union is a snake eating its own tail. The Dodgers feel screwed out of a ring. Judge thinks he deserves the AL MVP. Defending the Astros simultaneously compromises the other 95 percent of the league, supporting those who cheated others out of success.  

What is next for baseball? The season will be played under a cloud of Astros hate. Almost everyone in the sport will root for Houston to fail. But what if they win the World Series, a very reasonable outcome for a team that has 100 victories three years in a row? Will the sport have to sink deeper into its chair, and begrudgingly admit the Astros didn't need to cheat to be great? Will we look back on this winter and be ashamed for the outcry and hysteria as a naive response of ignorance? And will fans and media believe this is the end of the scandal? Will we need to question the possible advantages of every champion from here on out as technology will only get more sophisticated and more difficult to detect and police? 

Or will the Astros be crushed under the scrutiny and negativity? A team that has already lost one of its most important pieces, Gerrit Cole, will fight for a division with an A's team that has won 97 games two years in a row, an Angels squad that is desperate to win right now, and a Rangers organization opening up a new park. Sometimes having a villain is the best thing for a league. The hatred of the Patriots and Warriors has helped fuel interest in the NFL and NBA over the last decade. But the process of developing this wrestling heel has uncovered all of baseball's warts, and the magnifying glass we're looking through is only making it all look worse. 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 6:00AM-10:00AM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.