Cheating is wrong and cheaters shouldn’t win. If it is proven a team cheated, it shouldn’t have the glory of having a championship. Looking up either at the rafters of an indoor stadium or at the flags on a roof of an outdoor stadium that glorify a team that got to its goal via nefarious means shouldn’t be something that happens. It looks like it is rewarding cheating. Is that really the message that should be sent? 
“Would they have a reunion in 10 or 20 years? How would the fans react to it?” 
Those opinions were in the minority, though, among the former players I polled.  
“This is professional sports, not amateur,” a former player said to CBS Sports. 

The case for stripping titles

“Nah, that’ll be hard to do,” said a former minor-league player who is now a big-league scout. “They actually played the games, you know?” 
In light of all the fallout from Major League Baseball’s investigative report on the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and punishments that surfaced this past week — and let’s be honest, the floodgates are open and more stuff is coming — there’s talk from both sides of the aisle regarding whether or not commissioner Rob Manfred should be vacating titles from the previous seasons.  There is certainly some sentiment to attempt to erase the 2017 and 2018 World Series. 
My personal perspective is that this is basically just to make people feel better. The experience happened and it can’t be taken away. I know Reggie Bush won the 2005 Heisman Trophy. I remember the 2013 Louisville basketball team winning the national title. There are other examples, but I think we can all see the point I’m getting at. 
It happened. We can’t erase our memories. Those games happened. The players went through the experiences, both the games themselves and the ensuing celebrations. This isn’t “Men in Black” where there’s some memory-erasing pen we can use to zap what happened on the field from our memories. Take away the banners and try and amend the record books all you want, but the players know they won and what happened. 

The case against stripping titles

One source raised an interesting point to consider.  I also spoke with a former player who said not only should the title be vacated and the banners come down, but he’s for taking away the rings. 
“[Stripping titles] would not do anything to the players,” said a former player and manager. “It’s over. They played and cannot take back what they were rewarded.”   
Yes, the Astros and Red Sox stained the game and shouldn’t have been breaking the rules MLB laid out in the spring of 2017. Let’s hope the game is cleaning itself up moving forward and it doesn’t happen again. Taking away titles that we all saw unfold in front of our eyes doesn’t really seem like the answer, though, because it accomplishes very little.  
“If they’re found guilty of using the electronic buzzers on their bodies, no title and the players found guilty need to be suspended,” a major-league scout told CBS Sports. 
“Probably just gotta put an asterisk by that one, likely.” 
Let’s take a look at both sides. 
Several former players with whom I spoke came down along these lines. 
That is, there’s certainly a stain on the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox winning the World Series title while gathering signs via illegal means. Jeff Luhnow, A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora (MLB punishment still pending) and Carlos Beltran (possible punishment coming, though it seems like he’ll be spared aside from losing his job) are already some of the “victims” to lose their jobs over their roles in the cheating scandal. 


As I previously noted, stripping titles really seems like something that doesn’t do anything retroactively but instead just makes a bunch of people feel better about what happened. Bush won the Heisman in 2005. We all know it. We saw it happen. There’s also no precedent in MLB for the commissioner’s office to remove titles that already happened. Why start now? 
It seems to me that this succinct answer is really all we need. 
Many fans, media, players, former players and the like have taken to social media to wonder whether or not MLB should strip the titles in the way that collegiate sports sometimes do. 
I love this hypothetical, personally. Let’s say the 2017 Astros were stripped of the title. Would the Astros have a championship reunion in 2027? My hunch is if the title was stripped, MLB wouldn’t allow it in Minute Maid Park, but if the Astros held a reunion celebration elsewhere privately, I’d guess there would be great fanfare. It was the Astros’ first ever World Series championship and the overwhelming majority of the fans will always hold that team near and dear to their hearts.