On a day at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida, that wavered between being bright and warm, and windy and chilly, Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins’ fans were equally torn on an issue very separate from the weather – the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal.
Attitudes toward the Astros – who were confirmed to have illegally used electronic equipment to steal signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons – ranged all over the spectrum. Some fans felt the punishment the team received was too harsh, others felt it was too lenient.
Fourteen-year-old Jacob Traeger, a baseball player from the area, had much to say on the topic. Traeger swears allegiance to no specific team but was at the afternoon game to hopefully see a pitching battle between the Orioles and Marlins (the home team O’s were victorious 12-6). He doesn’t believe the Astros cheated in their 2018 postseason run but thinks they did at some points in their 2017 World Series’ run.
“They definitely cheated against the Yankees,” said Traeger, referring to the 2017 ALCS match-up where the Astros edged the Yankees in the series 4-3.
Kim Farber-Jones and Jeff Jones, a couple originally from Baltimore, Maryland (and with a Gator alumna for a daughter), were attending their first spring training game of the year. When it came to the cheating scandal, they wanted to stress the importance of keeping professional sports clean.
“All sports need to be clean,” said Jones. “Free from cheating.”
They don’t think it is right for punishment to be taken out on Astros players in the form of an increased number of hit-by-pitches. Through the first five games of spring training, seven Astros players were hit by errant pitches, and conspiracy theories are flying that this high number is tied to the scandal.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” Farber-Jones said.
Traeger also thought that sort of on-field, player-driven punishment was too extensive.
“[The cheating’s] not the players’ faults,” said Traeger. “Maybe some players but not all of them.”
Jamie Shaw, a 22-year-old from Brandon, Florida, was worried about how the scandal will affect major league baseball. She felt that the punishment handed down was not serious enough to prevent future similar scandals.
“If there’s an increase in players being hit by pitches this season, then that’s the other teams’ ways of getting even,” said Shaw. “[The Astros] shouldn’t have been allowed to keep their World Series trophy.”
Among the difference of opinions, there was one thing that all the fans agreed on – there need to be steps taken to make sure nothing like this scandal happens again.