Takeaways for kids playing Little League baseball about Houston Astros cheating scandal

by David Klein on February 26, 2020

While watching ESPN the other day, I learned about a wave of Little Leagues who are banning the Houston Astros as being one of the teams in their Little League.

If you haven’t yet heard, there has been an awful cheating scandal going on in Major League Baseball. A few months ago Mike Fiers, a pitcher with the Oakland A’s opened up the floodgates as the whistleblower and said that his former team, the Astros, were using a video camera beyond the center field fence to relay signs to a video screen in the dugout. Players would bang a trashcan to inform the hitter as to what pitch is coming.

This scandal has been horrible for baseball. However, what’s worse is how the Astros have dealt with it. While this is not good for baseball in general I believe there are some items here to learn from. Here are a few thoughts and lessons to take back to your kids or your players so there isn’t so much negativity around the situation, and we treat it more as a learning moment.

1. Play the game the “right way”. If you don’t, you will lose the trust and respect of your teammates and opponents.

There are many unwritten rules in baseball. For instance, you don’t scream when the opposing team is trying to catch a fly ball. You don’t continue to steal bases when you are up by many runs. You don’t bun’t to breakup a no-hitter.

While stealing signs is actually part of the game, at the youth level there is no place for this. At the high school level I teach my players to relay signs if the other team is giving them to us and not disguising them. This is commonplace. However, using technology to steal signs is be a big no-no. At the Little League level, I feel that teaching kids to steal signs isn’t the best thing to focus on and maybe sends the wrong message.

Many MLB players have come forward and said they have no respect for any of the Astros. This saddens me but I don’t blame them. Jose Altuve (pictured) was an inspiration to undersized players all over the world. Now everyone has lost trust and respect for him. If they had taken full responsibility right away, this would probably be a different story.

2. When you see someone disrespecting the game or doing something wrong, have the courage to come forward.

Easier said than done. Nobody wants to be a snitch! However I do have some respect for Mike Fiers for coming forward. Someone should have said something earlier.

When teammates see another teammate disrespecting an opponent, another teammate or the game itself, we need to encourage and teach our kids to speak up.

Again, easier said than done. Nobody likes conflict. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. Had someone said something earlier, the situation wouldn’t have been as toxic for the game of baseball.

3. Take responsibility for your mistakes. We all make them.

We all make mistakes. Coaches, parents, teachers — everyone! It’s how we respond when we make mistakes that matters. The Astros ownership, coaches and players have not taken full responsibility for what happened. Everyone can see this clearly and as a result it’s going to be a very difficult year for the Astros organization and players.

I’ve actually found it helpful to role play, how to take responsibility. Literally walking them through what to say. This doesn’t always come natural to kids. Even a simple “my bad” goes a long way to building trust within the team.

I wish the Astros has taken full responsibility instead of stepping around the issue. This would have modeled what baseball is all about, responding from mistakes and failure. Anyways, hope you got something from this!

M-A grad David Klein founded the Menlo  Parks Legends and runs the Legends Baseball Summer Camp

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