The last shoe to fall surrounded the fate of Carlos Beltran who was a player on the Astros’ team rather than a coach at the time cheating occurred. Due to his status as a player, and Commissioner Manfred’s decision not to pursue punishment for any players who were involved in the cheating incident, Beltran was escaped receiving a temporary ban from the game. The court of public opinion and the New York Mets’ front office would however have the final say in Beltran’s punishment.
When news of the Astros’ cheating first broke, Beltran publicly denied that any cheating had occurred. Yet later he recanted his statement and disclosed his participation in the cheating during the Manfred investigation. Because of his initial lying, Beltran’s new employer and the court of public opinion still found Beltran guilty and he was thus released from his job before he ever managed a single game.
Having provided a overly simplistic explanation of the scandal and punishments involved, I want to take just a moment to teach a few lessons from the whole ordeal.
1. Our society argues constantly for situational ethics, promotes and end-justifies-the-means mindset, condones lying, and denies the reality of absolute truth. Yet cheating is held as the ultimate sin in the sports world. How so? Does cheating not generally help one reach the desired end? How can we know if cheating occurred if everything is relevant and there is no truth?
Cheating scandals provide some measure of hope because for a brief moment people can recognize truth and are outraged at the presence of sin. The hope is only momentary, and the outrage may be hypocritical, but for a moment at least a standard of sorts is recognized by all.
2. Cheating scandals help prove the existence of Natural Law. Natural Law consists of basic truths discoverable by all societies without special revelation because God has baked them into His creation. Lying is a violation of Natural Law and conversely, truth is a part of it. To attack truth is to attack the very fabric of society. You cannot have justice, freedom, or goodness without the existence of truth.
Carlos Beltran and the others involved in the cheating scandal were punished because their actions attacked the integrity of the game of Baseball. How much more should we be concerned when the integrity of our families, communities, nation, and more importantly the Lord's Church is undermined through lying and deceit?
3. Though justice has been served in the case of the Astros cheating scandal, our societal justice system (even within baseball) is still broken. Case in point: A baseball player can use PEDs and receive a temporary ban from the Commissioner, but retain their job with their employer. Or, as another example, a player can beat their spouse/girlfriend and maintain their job while sitting out a brief suspension. Question: Why does participating in or lying about your involvement in a cheating scandal cost you your job, but using PEDs or beating your significant other have no bearing on your employment? To express it more simply, why does one liar lose his job while other liar does not? Why is one person fired for lying in a situation where no one is physically harmed yet another person within the same company inflicts violent harm on an individual and retains their status of employment?
The answer is that we live in a broken society and world. Sometimes society administers proper justice, and sometimes it does not. The same can be said within the church. Sometimes we forget that the greater crime is that perpetrated against society rather than business.
4. While watching a sports show in which the commentators were discussing the Astros’ cheating scandal I was surprised when one of the hosts complained that Alex Cora expressed sorrow over the consequences of his actions, but did not express sorrow over the actions themselves. Few men like David can simply declare “I have sinned.” Repentance is an admission of guilt that leads to a change of life rather than an expression of sorrow due to natural consequences (Joel 2:13).
5. Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. Though there are a lot of cheaters in this world who seem to advance and even win the World Series through unscrupulous means, eventually wrongs are righted. Therefore, do not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).
6. Number 32:23 "Be sure your sins will find you out." Lying is a temporary avoidance of the consequences of Natural Law. Beltran shouldn't have been involved in cheating to begin with, yet his actions would likely have been forgiven had he not lied and thus compounded his sin. At the end of the day it was the court of public opinion that executed him, not Commissioner Manfred. Cover-ups destroy trust and relationships. Sooner or later justice always gets served. Maybe not by the Commissioner, or by the court of public opinion, but by the Highest Court of All. Live therefore as people who must one day give an account (Romans 14:12 & 1 Peter 4:5).