The sanctity of professional athletic rules has been a hot topic of conversation for years. Folks are always ready to share their very strong opinions on what competitors should and shouldn't be allowed to do, and this is especially the case in high-profile sports leagues like the MLB.
Baseball has seen quite a number of cheating scandals in recent years, and now the Houston Astros are being accused of some unsportsmanlike conduct to get an edge up over the competition yet again in 2021.
What are the 2021 Houston Astros cheating allegations?
In 2017, the ball club was heavily criticized for "sign calling," where members of their ball club would look at the signs that the catcher from the opposing team was giving to their pitcher.
If you aren't familiar with baseball, a split-second reaction can make the difference between a home run, base hit, a foul ball, or being O-U-T.
If a talented hitter knows what type of ball is being thrown their way, whether or not to swing, or to bunt, or swing for the fences, then they can really have a strong competitive advantage.
They still have to hit the ball, but on a high professional level, that knowledge can make the difference between qualifying for the World Series and getting sent home early.
The Astros have been accused of telling their teammates what kind of ball signals the opposing team is giving the pitcher to throw. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, they were accused of actual wrongdoing from the MLB pending a thorough investigation. That's because they implemented what was ruled as an illegal video camera system to make them privy to the signs the catcher was sending to the pitcher.
The Astros' 2017 World Series win against the Dodgers wasn't overturned, but the league did fine the club $5 million, which is the maximum penalty they're legally allowed to administer. Houston had to give up its first and second-round picks for the 2020 and 2021 MLB draft as a result.
Fan reactions to the Astros once the scandal became public news was fairly brutal and they soon became one of the most hated teams in the league, but it seems that the Dodgers have since taken up that mantle.
Is whistling to signal pitches illegal in the MLB? And did the Houston Astros go back to their "cheating" ways?
Technically, no, there's nothing illegal about whistling in the MLB, and now the Astros are trending again for all the wrong reasons after a home run by Yordan Alvarez was carefully scrutinized by fans.
The Astros clobbered the Red Sox 9-1, and many fans think that these whistles before Red Sox pitches may have something to do with it.
So what's the solution? Well, the league could decide to ban whistling, but that'll be hard to implement because fans literally whistle and make all sorts of noises all the time during a game.
The opposing team could implement whistling of their own, or change up their signs before each game to come up with their own visual nomenclature to decide which pitches should go where.
However, as it stands, it doesn't seem like fans are too appreciative of the "loophole" that the Astros have benefited from as of late.
What do you think? Does it ruin the "purity" of baseball? Or do you think that the Astros found a really smart way to skirt the rules?