Mayor says Beverly Hills Little League will ban Astros team name after cheating scandal

The mayor of Beverly Hills has written an open letter saying that in the wake of the Houston Astros cheating scandal, the local little league will no longer use the Astros name.

Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch previously spoke with FanSided about why the Astros’ 2017 World Series title should be vacated in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal.

In his latest letter (below), Mirisch writes about how the league won’t use the name “Astros” anymore and why MLB and MLBPA should take cues from the game’s youngest fans.


MLB: And the Children Shall Lead

By John Mirisch

“Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see and learn.
Children may not obey, but children will listen.
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be.
Careful before you say ‘Listen to me,’
Children will listen.”
– Stephen Sondheim

For many of us, Spring, not Winter is the most wonderful time of the year. A time of anticipation. A time of new beginnings. The smell of fresh grass and the sound of a ball hitting a bat. A time of hope and possibility. Yes, baseball season is upon us.

But this year feels a little different. Mixed in with feelings of eagerness are feelings of sadness, disappointment and distress. That’s what a cheating scandal can do, especially one that hasn’t been adequately remedied.

Yes, like last year, Beverly Hills is going to be one of over 300 cities nationwide to participate in MLB and the US Conference of Mayors “Play Ball” initiative, which “focuses on the fun nature of baseball and encourages widespread participation in baseball-related activities.”

But rather than look to the highest level of professional baseball, MLB, to provide the model of fairness and sportsmanship which all baseball enthusiasts and players should aspire to, we will need to turn elsewhere this year. Instead of our kids looking up to the professional players, it is the little leaguers themselves who should serve as role models for the big leaguers.

Our City’s “Play Ball” activities this year will include presenting the Beverly Hills Little League with an official proclamation, thanking the League for its ongoing commitment to fair play and for its actions to honor the game of baseball, our country’s hallowed national pastime. In light of the Houston Astros cheating scandal, the Beverly Hills Little League has made the decision to ban the use of the Astros as a BHLL team name for this season and beyond. Should MLB’s investigation determine that the Boston Red Sox cheated in 2018, then the league has similarly decided to forego the use of the Red Sox as an acceptable team name within the league.

This is both a necessary and an admirable decision. As reflected in its code of conduct, the Beverly Hills Little League understands what happens when players disrespect the game.

No Beverly Hills little leaguer should have to endure the shame of wearing the sullied name of the Astros emblazoned on his or her jersey. No parent should have to see their child play the game in the tainted colors of athletes who cheated their way to an illegitimate World Series title.

The Beverly Hills Little League clearly understands the importance of honoring the game. It’s something they teach every player in the league, from the first time they pick up a bat and ball. In addition to “wholesome community participation,” the League urges “using the ball field as a classroom to instill discipline, team work, sportsmanship and fair play, and to establish a set of values to guide them into adulthood and hopefully, responsible citizenship.”

Responsible citizenship, of course, also includes accountability. MLB doesn’t seem to understand that. Major League’s unwillingness to hold cheaters truly accountable means that as much as we all may admire the physical skills of baseball’s professional elite, it is our little leaguers, brought up on the principles of fair play and sportsmanship, who are the real moral elite.

As disappointed as one can be at the Commissioner’s lack of meaningful action and his unwillingness to truly redress the Astros cheating scandal, something I wrote about right after the league released the results of its investigation, we need to recognize that an equal measure of culpability lies with the all-powerful players’ union the MLBPA.

The players’ union seems more interested in protecting cheaters than in promoting the values of responsible citizenship. Sadly, maybe that’s to be expected when it’s all about the money. But if the executives at the MLBPA who are supposedly representing the interests of players earning millions of dollars to play baseball and who are revered as our kids’ heroes don’t understand why holding players who cheat accountable is critical to the integrity of the game, then perhaps they should consider attending one of our little league games. It would serve to remind them what baseball is really all about.

Let them see why I’m so proud of our kids. Let them see what baseball means to our kids. Let them see how baseball can instill the kinds of values that invariably can lead to responsible citizenship and honorable adulthood.

Our kids, including my 12-year-old son who is entering his eighth season within the Beverly Hills Little League, may not be headed to Williamsport; they may never win any championships; they may never make it to the pros. But they play their hearts out, and with every pitch, every slide, every at bat, they show us all how much they love the game of baseball. Our kids honor the game. Our kids play the game as it should be played.

That’s something both MLB and the MLBPA should learn from.

Now is one of those times when adults should listen.

Play ball!

John Mirisch was elected to the Beverly Hills City Council in 2009. He is currently serving his third term as mayor.

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