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The signs stealing scandal involving the 2017 Houston Astros will be a hot topic for many more weeks/months to come. Here's what our very own Carl Lemelin had to say about it!
It seems inevitable. Every baseball commissioner will have a landmark issue to deal with
eventually. For Bud Selig, it was the steroid era and market inequalities. Kenesaw
Mountain Landis, first ever commish, had the infamous Black Sox scandal to tackle.
Current MLB boss Rob Manfred may have just created a pivotal precedent with his
decisive and swift reaction to the recent Houston Astros sign stealing revelation and
subsequent investigation. Blame was distributed equally to every level of the guilty
organization. The Astros were fined $5 million, the maximum allowed by the MLB
constitution, and forced to forfeit their first and second-round draft picks in 2020 and
2021. In addition, GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were each suspended for the
entire 2020 season, including the playoffs.
That left little other option but to fire the two very well regarded figures of a very
successful Astros run in recent years. Even though they weren’t directly involved in
initiating the cheating project, they are guilty of extreme negligence at the very least.
And more may be coming, as then bench coach Alex Cora and player Carlos Beltran
were also proven to be among the leading proponents of the ruse. Both have been fired
from their managerial positions. Beltran, recently hired by the Mets, even loses the
privilege of embarking on a new career.
The message is loud and clear and, may I add, to be applauded: using modern
technology to gain a live competitive advantage will not be tolerated.
WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE?
It’s been called the sign stealing scandal by just about every media outlet, but sign
stealing has been a part of baseball ever since catchers have flashed fingers at their
pitchers and third base coaches have performed their best impressions of French
mimes. It isn’t even forbidden in the rulebook.
Trying to figure out sign sequences from the dugout or as a runner on second base has
always been frowned upon by opponents, but recognized by observers as clever
gamesmanship, just another way to prove one’s full involvement in the effort to get the
So if sign stealing isn’t cheating, why are the Astros considered cheaters at all?
Because of the way it was done. Players’ eyes and sense of observation on the field are
just another tool they can use to help their team win. But Houston’s scheme relied
solely on technologically driven data gathering that basically insured their hitters would
know which pitch was coming every time they came to the plate at home.
Using computers and algorithms to help with advanced scouting, preparing game plans
is now common practice in every sport. But applying that digitally acquired knowledge
LIVE to affect in-game play (rumours now have Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman even
wearing wired buzzers concealed under their uniform), using LIVE feeds on available
monitors? That is where the line needed to be drawn and I’m so glad Manfred did it
In a recent interview, Trevor Bauer stated that rumors were rampant within MLB circles
that the Astros were cheaters. Nobody dared to come forward publicly with their
suspicions, because there wasn’t sufficient proof of any wrong doing. After all, Bauer
added, the Houston organization already had a reputation for their high level of
sophistication in terms of advanced scouting.
The garbage-banging was heard by opposing players and raised doubts, but the smoking
gun only came when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, now a divisional opponent, had
had enough of being on the receiving end of the plot and finally revealed it to the world
during an interview.
Now Fiers is getting the whistleblower treatment. That’s the inevitable and unfounded
backlash that all red-flag lifters get from insiders within their company, or even the
public for… TELLING THE TRUTH!
Apparently, Fiers broke the code: the fact that he revealed a locker room secret makes
him an untrustworthy teammate.
Really? 2020 and we’re still allowing honest people to be crucified on public forums
for… LISTENING TO THEIR CONSCIENCE?
Has anyone seen the movie Edward Snowden? Who in their right mind was on Big
Brother’s side while watching that flic?
Breaking the law (or in the present case, the rules) is the cause of the scandal, not
exposing it for what it is. Leave Mike Fiers alone! He should be praised for his actions,
not get the stink eye from his peers.
*Note: A little change of plans with this blog. We just had to talk about this important
development. NL Resolutions for all 15 teams in two weeks.
Tell us what you think of the whole sign stealing issue. It brings up so many questions
about where gamesmanship ends, and cheating starts. We want to read your takes!