Every sport has had to deal with its fair share of scandals over the course of its existence and baseball is no exception, as it’s been at the center of a number of controversies ever since Abner Doubleday started hitting round objects with a stick on a farm in Cooperstown.
Major League Baseball saw its integrity questioned in a big way in 1919 when eight members of the team dubbed the “Chicago Black Sox” threw the World Series after being bribed by gamblers with connections to the mob and those men received the same punishment Pete Rose did when he was banned for life for betting on games while managing the Reds.
Around the same time Rose was being investigated, some of the biggest (both literally and figuratively) players in the MLB had taken a liking to stuffing their bodies with a plethora of performance-enhancing drugs, a problem the league did everything in its power to downplay until it became the subject of a Congressional investigation in 2005.
Last year, the MLB was forced to reset its “Years Since We’ve Found Ourselves At The Center Of A Scandal Calling Our Integrity Into Question” sign back to zero following an explosive report published in November that alleged the Houston Astros had illegally stolen signs during a 2017 season that ended with them winning the World Series.
Evidence of their foul play immediately began to emerge as the team was accused of setting up a camera and telling players what pitch was coming by banging on a trash can (or, according to some rumors, harnessing electric buzzers that were hidden under their jerseys).
The MLB immediately conducted an investigation, and when the dust had finally settled, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were hit with a one-year ban before being fired almost immediately by the franchise, which lost multiple draft picks and was forced to pay a $5 million fine (Carlos Beltran also left his job as the manager of the Mets without overseeing a single game).
The league declined to punish any of the players on the team, as Rob Manfred claimed trying to figure out who did and didn’t have knowledge of the scheme was a virtually impossible task. However, that didn’t stop plenty of people from ripping into the MLB for handing out what they viewed as a slap on the wrist—especially considering the treatment they gave Rose, who wasn’t shy about asking why no one involved ultimately faced the same punishment as him.
On Thursday, the legendary Hank Aaron appeared on The Today Show to reveal his thoughts on the matter and shared Rose’s sentiment, and while he admitted people also stole signs during his playing days, he believes the way that Astros did it is enough to warrant some lifetime bans being doled out.
Aaron seems to be primarily concerned with the integrity of baseball, as he added he doesn’t believe Rose should be reinstated for his transgressions. However, if you believe Rose’s claim he never bet against the Reds, handing out some lifetime bans to people who ripped the rulebook in half in a quest to win doesn’t seem that unreasonable.