MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Considered ‘Precedent’ When Deciding Against Stripping Astros Of 2017 World Series Title
Owner Jim Crane and Houston Astros celebrate after winning the 2017 World Series
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball levied unprecedented penalties against the Houston Astros upon determining they stole signs en route to winning the 2017 World Series and the following season. Yet, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has faced mounting pressure to impose more punishments.

Specifically to strip the Astros of their title. As it is, Manfred fined the organization $5 million (maximum amount permitted), suspended general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch, and took away first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB Drafts.

Astros owner Jim Crane promptly fired Luhnow and Hinch, and the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets parted with Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, respectively. However, as information suggesting the Astros front office was more involved than initially believed came to light, players and fans grew more outspoken.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a vote that petitioned MLB to strip World Series from the Astros — and Red Sox — and award them to the Dodgers. Manfred all but formally ruled out the possibility shortly after.

He has maintained that stance and explained to ESPN’s Karl Ravech that although the league considered taking such action, they ultimately weren’t convinced it would have much impact:

“In the context of my original decision, it was something that we talked about and analyzed extensively. It was a big topic of conversation between me and my senior staff. … I landed on it, really, several thoughts. No. 1, it has never happened in baseball.

“I am a believer in the idea that precedent matters and when you deviate it from it, you have to have a really good reason to do that. No. 2, I thought the report gave people a really transparent account of what went on. That we put people in a position to make their own judgements about the behavior that went on, and that certainly has happened over the last month.

“The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back, seems sort of a futile act. People will always know there was something about the 2017 World Series that was different. And they’re going to know that because, whether we made every decision right or wrong, we undertook a really thorough investigation and we had the intestinal fortitude to put out there the facts we found even though they weren’t very pretty.”

Cody Bellinger has been among the more outspoke Dodgers on the matter, and his criticism earned a sharp, if not disrespectful, response from Carlos Correa. Manfred also expressed his disagreement with Bellinger’s remarks.

While Manfred has addressed the World Series trophy topic, he’s now facing a challenge of keeping teams from seeking retribution against the Astros by throwing at their batters.

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