Perspective | Fraud ruins everything related to sports. The Astros got what they deserved.

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<pre><pre>Perspective | Fraud ruins everything related to sports. The Astros got what they deserved.

If the Red Sox are found to be as guilty and punished as dramatically as the Astros have already done – with executives suspended, lost draft picks, and multi-million dollar fines – will we void the 2018 Boston title? Or do we see the Red Sox as an asterisk champion forever?

Such questions can and will be asked and discussed for years. And nobody will approach a satisfactory answer.

This scandal is a perfect example of why professional sports fraud is so bad. It ruins everything. There is no way to fix the damage. And this scar on the face of a sport is permanent, like the World Series 101 years ago, which is still known in just two words: Black Sox.

This is why it is so important to make every effort to catch fraudsters and destroy those who are punished for attracting the attention of the next person who is tempted to do the same. We do not seem to understand the true weight of the expression "game integrity" until a team or player tries to rip it apart to win.

At such moments, we vaguely realize that the entire construct of organized professional sports is artificial, an almost balanced house of cards. You don't have to tear down much of the building before fans, aka customers, have reason to say, "Remind me why I'm paying attention."

If an MLB, NFL, NBA, or NHL competition isn't on the pitch – or at least we can't assume there is a 99.9 percent chance it is a level – then it is this game nothing. It doesn't deserve attention.

The MLB's punishment of the Astro and the subsequent dismissal of the successful general manager Jeff Luhnow and the highly acclaimed manager A.J. Hinch – was a huge boulder that was thrown into the middle of the lake of our professional games. The waves of consequence extend in all directions to the banks.

As soon as we are reminded of the great harm that fraud has done, we are forced to view the fraudsters not as mere rascals and rule breakers, but as deeply selfish and destructive people whose lack of moral compass cannot be shaken off with rationalizations that make us feel comfortable. For example, "Everyone does it" – when we know that this is not the case. Or "why punish only those who get caught?" – if we do just that in all areas of everyday life, from murder to insider trading.

The Astros has just put a dark, ugly underline on every fraudster's CV, big or small, who was nailed.

Let Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in the Hall of Fame? Never. If this Astros ugliness doesn't convince moral relativists to find a backbone and admit that sometimes there is really a "right" and a "wrong" – and that what is wrong must be punished – what then?

Ted Leonsis, the owner of NBA and NHL franchises in DC, isn't even a pleasant day today. He can't wait to bring gambling to his arena and straight to your seat.

Sports games and corruption go hand in hand or are perceived as such. And with the Astros in the dock, we are reminded of the importance of honesty – if you want to stay in business.

Every Nats pitcher was given five Strings that indicate its pitches. For example, one finger for a fastball, two for a curve, three for a change and so on. But the nats went further. Each of their 12 pitchers got five different Signs. Perhaps in "Character Set 1" a single finger would mean a slider for Max Scherzer, but the same finger could mean a switch to Stephen Strasburg.

How on earth could a pitcher remember so many signals, especially under pressure from the World Series? Each jar of the Nats had its own five personal fonts that were glued to the bottom of its hat. And both pitchers and catchers had to coordinate which set they used.

Nobody knows exactly what the Astros did in what games at what time of year, including 2019. But here's what we know: The Nats used their six days off between inserting the pennant and starting the World Series to get one System to set up the “Hidden Figures. “It's nice to have a smart, experienced team.

But you definitely shouldn't have the spirit of Moe Berg, the language genius and World War II spy, as a catcher just to play at Minute Maid Park.

MLB threw the book on the Astros. If it had thrown two or three more books, that would have been fine.

However, a central point lies beneath this entire episode: Fraud or the perception of fraud attacks baseball or any sport that is the focus and threatens its existence as entertainment, as a business or even as an American institution that dates back to 1868.

Those who are too stupid or too stupid to recognize the harm they risk need to be awakened in simple words that they can understand. Every attempt is made to catch you and if caught, you will be severely punished.

It took nearly 20 years for baseball to learn this lesson in its PED era. To this day and forever, no one will be able to understand the game's record book, studded with false honors. It cannot be fixed. If anything good came from that time, maybe we finally saw it on Monday. Baseball woke up, examined and caught his fraudsters, even if it meant damaging one title and maybe another.

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