When I was a kid, cheating was a huge no-no. Sister Dasso would take a large ruler and crack you on the back of the hands. Your classmates would all stare and laugh at you. To your face.
On the playground, you were socially ostracized. Funny nicknames or songs would be made up to torture you: “Steve-r Steve-r, you are such a cheater.”
Not that this ever happened to me.
There was always the chance that Sister Dasso would call home and tell your mom. Then, depending on the temperament of your home, that ended in a scolding and spanking, or (far worse) the “I am so disappointed in you speech.”
Of course, the ultimate bad response was “wait ’til your father gets home.” Geez.
The bottom line to all of this was that if you did it once, you would probably never do it again. The social cost was too great. Honesty was the norm and dishonesty the exception.
But not today.
The Houston Cheaters, I mean Astros, created a very complex system using sophisticated electronics and unsophisticated trash cans to communicate what pitches were coming next to their batters.
This is called “sign stealing.”
Now, a little bit of sign stealing has always been accepted in baseball. If there is a guy standing on second and he looks past the pitcher into the catcher’s crotch (OK, that sounds way worse than it really is) and sees that the next pitch is a changeup, he can very subtly slap his left thigh so the batter knows the next pitch.
But the Astros took it to whole new levels. Video machines, super computers, the works. Some also suspect that Jose Altuve wore a buzzer at one point during the playoffs so he could receive messages without the trash can.
The end result: The 2017 World Series was stolen from the L.A. Dodgers.
However, the new 2020 World Championship won by the Boys in Blue will help us forget somewhat the insult that is 2017.
But does it really?
AJ Hinch, the Astros manager, was fired back in January but was recently rehired by the Detroit Tigers. Alex Cora, who some say was the architect of the cheating scheme, was recently rehired as manager of the Boston Red Sox.
Where are the consequences, Commissioner Rob Manfred? Guess there are none.
The Astros organization was given a small fine (in baseball terms) and the loss of four draft picks. But, they got to keep their ill-gotten championship. Guess crime does pay, eh kids?
If this was the Olympics, their medals would have been stripped.
In politics, it seems that the same rules apply. Ballot harvesting is now commonly practiced in many states. Have you heard of this? A “trusted” friend can pick up your ballot at your home and “deliver” it for you to the polling location. How convenient. Nothing could go wrong there.
For those who vote in person, valid ID is not required to prove who you are. Everywhere else in our great land, three photo IDs, two bills showing your home address, and a microchip embedded in your forearm are required to purchase a loaf of bread.
But in voting, we trust you.
California chose to mail a ballot to every registered voter. Numerous stories arose of multiple ballots delivered to homes with deceased or moved voters on the ballot label.
To add to this voter mess, each state processed ballots in a different way. Some states required all ballots to be postmarked by a certain date. If you are late, tough. Other states wanted “every ballot to be counted” so they set loosy-goosy deadlines for submission.
Some states were disciplined and focused in ballot counting. Other states took their time and are using fingers, toes and abacuses. No chance of shenanigans there.
Why do we allow this?
It seems like in everyday life, we allow cheating and dishonesty to rule. If you are honest, you are a “sucker.” But if you figure out how to game the system, you can become a Social Media Influencer.
This voting situation must be changed. I realize that the impact of COVID on many systems (including voting) has been huge. But maybe we should think about this a little more before we have another train-wreck election.
Voting is a sacred right in our nation but we have treated it as flippantly as banging on a trash can, introducing uncertainty and potential civil unrest. Here comes Sister Dasso and the ruler.
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and still could not hit a major league curveball even if the pitcher yelled out what he was throwing beforehand.