The Houston Astros’ should vacate their 2017 World Series championship over the sign-stealing scheme that has rocked the MLB, say a majority of people surveyed in the Seton Hall Sports Poll.
The more than 650 adults surveyed in early February came down hard on cheaters in general, with well over 80% saying teams that break the rules to gain an unfair advantage over an opponent “really hurts the game.”
“We very rarely get that kind of support in the 80s,” said Rick Gentile, director of the poll, which is run out of Seton Hall University. “I found it comforting that there was overall negativity about cheating.”
The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3.9%.
The poll also drew parallels to the recently concluded impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, who was acquitted of charges that he abused his power and then engaged in a cover-up to improve his 2020 reelection prospects. Over 80% of those polled said politicians breaking laws to gain an advantage over a political opponent “really hurts the country.”
“There was cheating and baseball, and there was punishment for it,” Gentile said. “It’s been alleged that there’s been cheating in politics and kind of nothing happened, so that’s why we wanted to ask that question.”
The poll wasn’t accusing Trump of breaking the law, Gentile said, just comparing the public’s sentiments toward cheating in sports and politics with the backdrops of Trump’s impeachment trial and the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
Trump is marked with the dubious honor of being the third-ever president to be impeached by the House, but Democrats say his acquittal will embolden the president.
The Astros have already faced some of the harshest sanctions in the history of the MLB over the scandal, including a $5 million fine, the loss of several valuable draft picks and the suspensions of Manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow that followed with their firings last month.
But a wide margin of respondents —52% to 35% —said the Astros should be further punished with the stripping of their title.
When discussing baseball, Democrats and Republicans surveyed were pretty much on the same page, with 90% of people who identified themselves as Democrats and 86% of people who identified themselves as Republicans answering that cheating in sports hurts the game.
On politics, however, the two ideologies began to split.
Nearly 90% of Democrats said politicians breaking the law hurts the country, while 68% of Republicans said the same. Only 8% of Democrats said it was “no big deal,” compared to 23% of Republicans who said the same.
Gentile recalled polling during San Francisco Giants star Barry Bonds’ steroids-use scandal in the 2000s where most Americans thought Bonds was a “cheater” because of his alleged steroid use.
“Most of the people in San Francisco, if they admitted at all that he cheated, said ‘everyone was doing it, so why are we picking on [Bonds]?’” Gentile said.