Pennsylvania Little League District Drops ‘Astros’ Nickname After Cheating Scandal

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The head of a Pennsylvania Little League district has announced that none of his teams will be permitted to use the Astros nickname, in response to the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Bob Bertoni, head of District 16/31 Little League, told his teams, “Right now, in our leagues, the Astros are suspended,” Bertoni said according to ESPN.

Bertoni noted that teams in his district had used the name in the past, but no more.

“I think about our Little League pledge; that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. Part of the pledge is, ‘I will play fair, and strive to win,'” Bertoni insisted.

“Our kids emulate and idolize major league players. I don’t think we as an organization should be idolizing teams that have decided not to play by the rules,” he continued.

The league’s move comes on the heels of Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend Astros manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow, after an investigation revealed that the team had used electronic recording devices to help them beat the opposition. The team later fired Hinch and Luhnow.

Little League International, the governing body of Little League baseball, noted that it would not seek to prevent districts from refusing to use the Astros name.

“Local Little League programs have long used Major League Baseball club names for their local teams,” the group said. “The volunteers operating those programs have the authority to name their teams, which often reflect the interests of their community and its baseball fans. This unfortunate situation has taught Little Leaguers an important lesson about playing by the rules.”

The group also noted that it values its work with Major League Baseball.

“We value our relationship with Major League Baseball and its efforts to expand opportunities for youth baseball and softball, and the best thing that Little League International can do for MLB and the entire baseball community is to teach children how to play the sport by the rules and with a high level of sportsmanship,” the group added.

For his part, Bertoni said that he thinks Little League will see an end to the use of the Astros name “on a larger scale” across the country. The Pennsylvanian also said he wanted to do something to impress on kids that what the Astros did was wrong and to prevent any chance that they might seek to emulate cheating.

“That is the reason for the first initial step. If we did nothing, that opens the door to allow these kids to do that,” Bertoni said. “We’re going to educate our managers and coaches to say, ‘Stealing signs, pounding on a trash can, that nonsense is not what you do when you play baseball or softball. Cheating should never come into play.”

He also said that parents had told him that they agree with the move.

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