MLB: A Congressman wants Astrogate hearings. Oh, swell.

Once again, Congress is looking to get involved in MLB scandals. This time, they want hearings regarding the Houston Astros and AstroGate.

Remember Ronald Reagan’s crack about the worst thing you could hear being, “Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help?” You may want to keep it in mind over Astrogate, now, unfortunately.

When MLB commissioner Rob Manfred dropped the nuke last Monday, he did it only after a scrupulous enough probe, after offering immunity for players partaking of the Astro Intelligence Agency. Instead of sending flunky players on the perp walk, he held the bosses who enabled it to account. So, almost at once, did the Astros’ owner who canned Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch, not to mention the Red Sox owner who put Alex Cora before a firing squad and the Mets administration who strapped Carlos Beltran aboard their lethal injection gurney.

Not good enough, says Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. Like a few too many hundred thousand baseball fans, so it seems, Rush wants hearings, names, and flunky players doing the perp walk. Preferably single file to the guillotine.

Rush has sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce chairman Frank Pallone (no known relation to the late, tragic umpire Dave Pallone), and to two fellow subcommittee members, saying, “It is clear that Major League Baseball is firmly in the midst of an ethical crisis. Cheating in any sport is anathema, especially in professional sports. Many children, and adults for that matter, look up to professional athletes as a testament to the American dream and what is possible through hard work and determination. This latest fiasco is nothing short of a gut punch to those ideals.”

Swell. Rush wants another House Panel for the Dissemination of Great Messages to Kids. (That’s what George F. Will once snorted about the committee that made perp walks out of the scandal involving actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances.) A government official demanding hearings into sports cheating is like a fox demanding investigations into security breaches at his neighbour’s hen house.

Yes, assorted from-the-inside complaints about cheating via electronic sign-stealing fell upon deaf or at least somewhat indifferent ears until this past November. But when Mike Fiers finally blew the whistle to The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, Manfred pounced. He ordered up as complete a probe as he could get, gathered up as much evidence as he and his bloodhounds could gather, pronounced sentences, and prodded three owners to act fast enough. And that’s before his final evidence and report on the Red Sox—accused of running sign-theft reconnaissance from their replay room to baserunners to send to batters—emerges.

Manfred’s predecessor and the owners of that period looked the other way over actual or alleged PEDs for only too long and all but invited Congress to produce the dog and pony show. Yes, government requires an invitation to deliver a dog and pony show about as much as Superman requires human growth hormone. If Rush gets what he asks of Pallone, he’s really saying Manfred forgot to deliver the swell message to the kids aboard the guillotine blade descending through the flunky players’ necks.

Alex Bregman, Astros third baseman (2017 postseason splits: .857 OPS home; .508 OPS road), didn’t help Saturday. Facing the press at Astros FanFest, Bregman said this about Manfred’s Astrogate probe, report, and disciplines: “The commissioner came out with a report, MLB did their report, and the Astros did what they did, meaning they made their decision on what they’re going to do. I have no other thoughts on it.” A lot of people might translate that to mean, “Run along, sonny, you bother me.” Some of them might have jobs like Rush’s that allow meddlesome tendencies to run like the Flash, or at least like Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.

Meanwhile, this just in, more or less. The Mets may have had more than just a prospective image problem in mind when they cashiered Beltran. Turns out a couple of Mets pitchers, Jacob deGrom and Edwin Diaz, suspected sign stealing against them in 2019, according to SNY’s Andy Martino. “deGrom, in particular, was angry about it,” Martino says. “How could Beltran lead players, and there are many, who think the practice is wrong?”

MLB’s electro-cheating scandal indicates the sport does have a serious ethical problem, as among others Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci says forthrightly enough. On that nobody really disagrees. But taking lessons in ethics from a member of today’s political (lack of) class is something akin to learning about love from Harvey Weinstein.