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MLB chief rules out stripping Astros of World Series crown

(AFP)

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday there were no plans to strip the Houston Astros of their 2017 World Series crown following the sign stealing scandal that has rocked the sport.

In his first interview since the publication of his report into the scandal last week, Manfred told Fox Business Network the league preferred to let fans judge for themselves how to view the Astros scandal-tainted title.

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Major League Baseball has faced repeated calls to void the result of the 2017 World Series, when the Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games, over the sign stealing furore.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were both banned for the entire 2020 season by the MLB for their part in the scandal, before later being sacked by the club.

Alex Cora — a bench coach at the Astros in 2017 and one of the ringleaders of the cheating — was fired by the Boston Red Sox last week following the MLB probe. 

Cora and the Red Sox remain under investigation over separate allegations.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the Astros and 2018 champion Red Sox to be stripped of their World Series crowns, with the titles being handed to the Dodgers.

Manfred however poured cold water on that suggestion in an interview with Fox on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. 

Asked about the Los Angeles city resolution, Manfred replied: “We haven’t concluded our investigation with the Red Sox so it’s a little hard to take the trophy away from somebody who hasn’t yet been found to do something wrong. We don’t know what the outcome of that’s going to be.”

Manfred added that handing the title to the Dodgers was problematical as the Astros had used their sign stealing system throughout the playoffs, meaning other teams had also fallen victim to the cheating.

“I think that the second flaw is whatever the impact of the sign stealing was it could have changed who was in the World Series,” Manfred said. “Absolutely, unclear that the Dodgers would’ve been the World Series champion. 

“I think there’s a long tradition in baseball of not trying to change what happened. I think the answer from our perspective is to be transparent about what the investigation showed and let our fans make their own decisions about what happened.”

The Astros were hit with suspensions and a $5 million fine after an MLB investigation found the team had illegally used a camera linked to a video monitor to help decode signals between opposition pitchers and catchers.

Astros players then relayed the information to the team’s batters via banging on a trash can to tell them what kind of pitch to expect.

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