It’s The Principle!

A principle is defined as a fundamental truth that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

I’ve been a baseball fan ever since I was a kid, beginning with the Houston Colt 45’s before they became the Houston Astros.  Not surprisingly, I was really bothered when I learned the Astros had cheated to win the 2017 World Series.  In case you’re not familiar with this story, the Astros devised a scheme to steal signs from the other team using an outfield camera to determine what type of pitch (e.g. off-speed, fastball) the pitcher planned to deliver to the Astros batter.  Knowing this, the Astros were able to greatly improve the likelihood of getting a hit, instead of being fooled by the pitcher. 

Major League Baseball opened an investigation in 2019 following press reports of sign stealing using technology (which is expressly prohibited) and in January 2020, confirmed the sign stealing allegations and imposed various sanctions on the Astros organization.  The sanctions included suspending the Astros General Manager and Manager for one year (these individuals were fired by the organization); a five-million dollar fine; and forfeiture of their 1st and 2nd round draft picks for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.  No players were sanctioned, because they were given immunity in exchange for their cooperation.  Since that time, many of the players have apologized, to varying degrees, for their participation in the cheating scheme.

As a baseball fan, I’ve collected memorabilia for years and I’ve assembled and displayed my collection in a small loft area in our home.  Not surprising, I acquired several items (posters, bobble-heads, newspapers, programs, cups, etc.) to celebrate the Astros winning their first World Series in 2017.  These items on the wall, and shelves, have become an unpleasant reminder of the players conduct and their undeserved trophy, and I’ve been struggling as to what to do. 

Well, last week, I decided I no longer wanted these reminders of the tainted season and the ill-gotten gains of the organization and I mailed them all back to the Astros organization, specifically addressing them to Jim Crane, Owner and Chairman of the Astros organization.  Here’s a copy of the letter I included with the memorabilia items:

Dear Mr. Crane,

            I am enclosing the Houston Astros collectibles I assembled during the 2017 season, and since that time.  These items have been prominently displayed in a loft area in my home with other baseball memorabilia I’ve collected over the years.  I’ve been a baseball fan since my youth and Colt 45’s / Astros have always been one of my favorite teams. 

            I was delighted when the Astros won the World Series in 2017.  It was great to win, but the joy of watching the players’ enthusiasm throughout the season was most gratifying.  The team made me proud!

            Needless to say, I was disappointed, and embarrassed when I learned the players and staff cheated throughout the season and I believe their actions contributed to their undeserved success.  I’ve been troubled since that time and undecided as to what to do, particularly with these memorabilia.  I’ve decided I can no longer look at them and feel anything but disappointment.  Hence, I am returning them to the Astros organization.

            Some may argue the players and the organization have apologized for cheating.  Maybe so, but to me, the apologies ring hollow, as though we’re sorry that we got caught, let’s just move forward.  If the players and organization were truly sorry, then the bonus money would be returned (or donated); banners for the 2017 season would be removed from the stadium, and the World Series Trophy would be returned.  These ill-gotten gains should not be celebrated.   

            I wish to support the Astros again, but not until the players and the organization demonstrates true remorse for the cheating, and take the appropriate steps to no longer “celebrate” these wins.

I’m not expecting a response from the Astros and I have my doubts that Mr. Crane will ever see my letter.  Regardless, as a matter of principle, I decided I no longer wanted these items and returning them was the best way I could tangibly express my feelings.  Being honest is a choice everyone should make. It will make our world a better place. It’s the principle that matters.

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