Newark, N.J., Feb 11, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A majority of Americans want Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros to be stripped of their 2017 World Series title, according to a new poll by a Catholic university.
The survey, conducted by Seton Hall University and published on Feb. 10, found that 52% of respondents want the Houston team’s championship revoked.
“The sentiment to strip the Astros of their trophy is well reflected in the seriousness by which people view rule breaking,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, which is sponsored by the school’s Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business.
Seton Hall University in Orange, New Jersey, is a Catholic university founded in 1856 by Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley of Newark, nephew of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. It is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Newark, with Cardinal Joseph Tobin serving as president of the university’s board of trustees.
It is one of the oldest diocesan-run Catholic universities in the country and has about 10,000 students, including 6,000 undergraduates.
The Seton Hall Sports Poll surveyed 662 adults around the U.S., and was conducted in the wake of revelations that players and coaches from Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Houston Astros in 2017 employed a sophisticated method of stealing the pitching signals of opposing teams by using an illegal video feed.
While just over half of respondents (52%) wanted the Astros stripped of their title, only 35% said that the World Series result should be allowed to stand, and 13% responded “Don’t know/No opinion.”
Reports first surfaced in November last year that the Astros, during their 2017 championship season, employed an electronic system of stealing opponents’ signs to notify hitters in real time what pitch to expect.
Although players stealing opponents’ signs on the field—such as a runner at second base looking at the catcher’s signs to the pitcher—has long been regarded by players and fans as a natural part of baseball, to do so using artificial means such as video feeds is widely considered to be unethical and a violation of the “unwritten rules” of the game.
An investigation by Major League Baseball, which led to a report published in a January, concluded that the Astros used technology to steal signs and that the Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch knew of the procedure but did not act to stop it. The report also said that general manager Jeff Luhnow was culpable, whether through gross ignorance or knowing of the system and not stopping it.
MLB suspended Luhnow for one year; Hinch was suspended as well for knowing the system was being utilized but not putting a stop to it. The Astros organization promptly fired both of them after MLB announced its suspensions. The organization was also fined and lost draft choices.
Despite the MLB finding that the sign-stealing scheme was “player-driven and player-executed” except for bench coach Alex Cora who also participated, no players were disciplined by the Astros or MLB.
Cora, who went on to become the manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2018, was let go by the Red Sox after the investigation. Carlos Beltran, who was a member of the 2017 championship team, was reportedly a part of the player-run scheme and was hired as manager of the New York Mets after the 2019 season. He was also fired after the MLB investigation.
According to the Seton Hall poll, 84% of respondents said a sports team breaking the rules for an advantage “really hurts the game.”
A marginally smaller number (83%) said that a politician doing so “really hurts the country,” but respondents were sharply divided along party lines: While 94% of Democrats said a politician cheating “really hurts the country,” but only 68% of Republicans agreed.
A majority of all respondents still said that a “winning at all costs” mentality is strongest in politics, with only 20% saying it is strongest in professional sports.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs is “more detrimental to the game of baseball” than illegally stealing signs; 31% said that both are detrimental.