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Simmons Says - Houston, you have a problem

Everybody in the sports world is weighing in on the Houston Astros. Carlos Correa has spoken out in defense of his club, while the rest of Major League Baseball has taken aim at the 2017 World Champs. Even LeBron James threw his hat in the ring recently, joining the debate about what MLB officials should do about the Astros stealing signals to gain a competitive advantage.

Let me be the one millionth person to give his opinion on how to deal with this great dilemma. I think the players should be left to sort it out.

Growing up, baseball was my sport. I loved every nuance of the game and spent all the time I could soaking up the ins and outs. I didn’t just want to be good at the game, I wanted to be the best at the strategy of the sport.

That meant, at a very young age, I was introduced to the “unofficial rules” of baseball – all the things the players tend to police on their own. Things like hitters not walking over the mound on their way back to the dugout after an out or not hot-dogging at the plate if you’ve hit a towering shot. And, of course, never stepping on the lines. 

As I’ve grown older, I think some of the stuff is trivial. I don’t want to see catchers taking swings at young guys if they bat flip or take an extra second to admire a home run. I do enjoy, however, mad Madison Bumgarner dolling out his own form of punishment if he feels he’s been slighted at the mound.

And for that reason, I think managers and MLB officials should just take a step back and allow the players to figure out how they want to punish the Astros.

If it’s plunking batters every now and then, so be it. Just make it a safe plunking – straight to the back, staying away from legs, hands and the head. Maybe players take an extra few inches outside the base paths to break up double plays against the Astros. Correa, the team’s shortstop, and 2B Jose Altuve, in the center of the great sign-stealing debate, will just have to deal with it.

Maybe the Astros take it. Maybe they decide to fight back. Either way, players will find a way to deal with it and respect the game at the same time.

This is where hockey has it right. When players get too far out of line, the gloves come off. There’s a fight and the guys go to their respective penalty boxes. Normal play continues.

To the rest of the MLB, the gloves are off with the Astros. Let opposing players send them to the penalty box this season.