Should MLB Players strike on behalf of a harder Astrogate hammer?

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Tony Clark of the Major League Baseball Players Association speaks during a Boston Red Sox team workout on February 21, 2017 at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida . (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Tony Clark of the Major League Baseball Players Association speaks during a Boston Red Sox team workout on February 21, 2017 at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida . (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Former pitcher Phil Hughes thinks yes, the MLB Players Association should consider a strike for stronger Astrogate punishments.

Surely you remember Al Pacino as aging Don Michael Corleone fuming, in The Godfather Part III, “Just when I thought I was finally out, they pull me back in!” That’s how I was feeling about Astrogate, frankly. And when I had occasion to write on Sunday about the guys who bopped them entirely on the road in last year’s World Series, that’s just when I thought I was out, for a good while if not exactly finally.

Now, former pitcher Phil Hughes and still all-universe center fielder Mike Trout have pulled me back in. I’ll start with Hughes, because he’s thrown a gauntlet down to the Major League Baseball  Players Association the bulk of whose membership believes, with justice, that the Houston Astros require more than a coming season full of outrage married to sorrow (and maybe a few knockdown pitches) to atone for their illicit electronic sign pilferage.

Hughes thinks the union ought to strike until commissioner Rob Manfred steps out of character, violates the immunity he gave Astros players in return for spilling, and really fans their behinds over the Astro Intelligence Agency’s electronic espionage.

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You’d be hard-pressed to find other players untempted by the idea if their on-the-record fumings since that unapologetically apologetic presser last week.

“I know this may sound extreme,” Hughes tweeted Sunday, “but I’m curious if the players have considered a work stoppage until real punishments are handed down. I know this probably can’t and won’t happen but what are the 99.9% of players who care about the game’s integrity supposed to do? Just carry on like everything is fine?”

Unfortunately, baseball has a season to prepare for and to play. It’s not as though the game has a choice about it unless the union takes Hughes upon his thought. And unlike the commissioner who admits that he’s a precedent guy (precedents being relative, of course, as a lot of his silly-to-witless rule changes exhibit), this is a union that isn’t exactly fearful of precedents.

One of the safest suggestions about organized labor and its history is that you can count on half a hand how often any union went on strike because one of its locals stepped so far out of line that even that union’s majority was willing to hit the picket lines until the leadership finally stepped in and took that local over its knee.

Two years ago, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers protested at the union’s Las Vegas convention, outraged over union leadership looking the other way too often over sexual misconduct by their San Diego local’s president, for its own sake and because the charges got in the way of the union’s efforts at organizing low-wage Latina workers.

Customarily it’s hard to conceive the UFCW striking the supermarkets because one of their locals or one of their leaders went rogue, even if that leader cost the union a small pile of money to settle a few sexual harassment lawsuits. It wasn’t the markets that cost them that money. If unions deal traditionally with anything in their existences, they deal customarily with tried-and-true pocketbook and workplace condition issues.