Little Leagues in northwest Pennsylvania, southern California, and western New York won’t have any teams named “Astros” this season, as the fallout from that major league team’s sign-stealing scandal continues to spread to unexpected places.
Keith Wing, the general manager of the Central Amherst Little League in Buffalo said “the actions of the Astros are really contrary to what we believe in as a Little League, the character and integrity involved in the decisions they made.”
“We just felt like the Astros didn’t deserve to have their name on the shirts of our little kids,” he continued.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series, were arguably the team most screwed over by the scheme, so it’s unsurprising that at least two southern California leagues have banned the name.
“Parents are disgusted,” Long Beach Little League president Steve Klaus said. “They are disgusted with the Astros and their lack of ownership and accountability. We know there’s more to this scandal. What’s coming tomorrow? With the Astros, you’ve got premeditated cheating.”
Greg Taylor, the president of the East Fullerton Little League, also said that parents were pivotal in the decision to ban the name this season.
“Our league received negative feedback from parents who felt Astros name was equated with impropriety,” he said.
Bob Bertoni, the administrator of the District16/31 Little League just 60 miles east of Williamsport, Pennsylvania — the birthplace of Little League and the home of the Little League World Series — has also suspended the name for the upcoming season.
“Our kids emulate and idolize Major League players,” he said. “I don’t think we as an organization should be idolizing teams that have decided not to play by the rules.”
Bertoni also pointed out that the Little League pledge contains the phrase “I will play fair and strive to win,” and while the Astros certainly accomplished the latter — they have won more than 100 games for three straight seasons — they disregarded the former in using a center field camera to determine if an off-speed pitch was coming and banging on a trash can to warn the batter.
And while it didn’t enforce a wider ban, Little League International supports the local officials making these decisions.
“The volunteers operating those programs have the authority to name their teams, which often reflect the interests of their community and its baseball fans,” it said in a statement.
“This unfortunate situation has taught Little Leaguers an important lesson about playing by the rules.”