Seven players with the Houston Astros have each received a 24-game suspension after an investigation unveiled they were playing Candy Crush on their smartphones during multiple games throughout the 2019 season.
The controversy piggybacked on recent investigations into an intricate cheating scandal that involved buzzers, trash can-banging, and flagrant sign stealing. The punishment for the scandal included the team being stripped of its first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, in addition to a fine of $5 million.
The latest scandal, now being referred to as the “Candy Crush Saga”, has drawn even greater scrutiny by the league, as players themselves received heavy, long-term suspensions. MLB rules state that players cannot use smartphones in the dugout during games. However, what they were doing on their smartphones was the bigger problem, league officials affirm.
“It’s bad for the game,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who funds several charities that address video game addiction. “The game of baseball is all about getting away from our electronic screens. It’s about being active and competing in the real world. Candy Crush has no place in Major League dugouts.”
Several Astros players implicated in the scandal have come forward to apologize. “We’re a product of our environment,” lamented star Astros second baseman José Altuve. “It’s not an excuse, but we were born into this digital age. And we’re the ones who have to live with the league’s punishment.”
Some pundits are claiming that Altuve’s apology was half-hearted.