Soooo, This Baseball Scandal....

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Duke Silver

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Duke Silver

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I played organized baseball for 47 years. At every level, stealing signs is a rite. Stealing a sign is only half the fun, the other being creative enough to convey the message without your opponent knowing you have figured out the signs. Why do catchers flash more than one sign when calling for a pitch? Uh, because everyone and their dog knows someone is watching. I was at the MSBL World Championships in Phoenix about 14 years ago, catching as I normally do, and we were giving basic signs by how I held my glove and when I adjusted by mask. Right out in the open and nobody caught on because I was still giving the fake signs between my knees, which usually included a half dozen birds, grabbing my crotch or the jerk off hand sign each time just to loosen up my pitcher. The ONLY issue with this commotion is they used video to parse it. Who cares. As was stated before, what is the difference between doing this during a game and having your A/V guy and a scout scour over video broadcasts of games at other times? Every team has plants, teams in the outfield who do nothing but read signs and document what is going on. That is baseball. This is like saying football teams cannot video or swap film of an opponent before playing them which is done by, oh, EVERYONE.
 
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I played organized baseball for 47 years. At every level, stealing signs is a rite. Stealing a sign is only half the fun, the other being creative enough to convey the message without your opponent knowing you have figured out the signs. Why do catchers flash more than one sign when calling for a pitch? Uh, because everyone and their dog knows someone is watching. I was at the MSBL World Championships in Phoenix about 14 years ago, catching as I normally do, and we were giving basic signs by how I held my glove and when I adjusted by mask. Right out in the open and nobody caught on because I was still giving the fake signs between my knees, which usually included a half dozen birds, grabbing my crotch or the jerk off hand sign each time just to loosen up my pitcher. The ONLY issue with this commotion is they used video to parse it. Who cares. As was stated before, what is the difference between doing this during a game and having your A/V guy and a scout scour over video broadcasts of games at other times? Every team has plants, teams in the outfield who do nothing but read signs and document what is going on. That is baseball. This is like saying football teams cannot video or swap film of an opponent before playing them which is done by, oh, EVERYONE.
What's your take on wearing an electronic device to receive the stolen sign?
 
Aug 16, 2012
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What's your take on wearing an electronic device to receive the stolen sign?
not sure where the line is, but IMO, that is clearly crossing it. I guess the line would have to be somewhere along the boundaries of "normal play". Video is normal-happens every game above HS. chatter is normal. Signs are normal. Electronic devices, eh, that is not part of normal play.
 
Jul 25, 2018
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not sure where the line is, but IMO, that is clearly crossing it. I guess the line would have to be somewhere along the boundaries of "normal play". Video is normal-happens every game above HS. chatter is normal. Signs are normal. Electronic devices, eh, that is not part of normal play.
I think that's where this gets stickier.

The Astros were reported to MLB by other teams, told to stop, & continued to do it. Watching Altuve in that video, I'm sorry, but I'm very skeptical of his motives there, given what's been alleged.

To me, what they did appears to have crossed a line beyond stealing a few signals.
 
Nov 16, 2013
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They crossed the line and players need to go down as well. Those boys are going to be lucky if there's not someone with broken hands or knees as much money as they cost sports books both legal and illegal.
 
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I'm an Astros fan and have been for 40 years. They cheated, but I don't think they are the only ones. I think the steroid issue was a bigger scandal.

I don't think they wore buzzers. There is too much that could happen, which would result in them being seen at least once over the course of time. Sliding into base, hit by a pitch and go down.

In 2000's, the Astros-Cardinals was a big rivalry. I remember during the play-offs the announcers would talk about how the St Louis Cardinals had a film room down the hall from their dugout and that was where Pujols would go to "study" the pitcher. They would actually show Pujols darting down the tunnel and then coming out of the tunnel before his next at bat. Tony LaRussa was the manager. The same manager being mentioned now by Jack McDowell for illegal cameras when LaRussa managed the White Sox.

In 2017, the Red Sox with Apple watches and Yankees with the YES television feed (Yankees were cleared of wrong doing). I think the commissioner screwed up by not making it a bigger deal out of it. His memo was a 2nd page story.

Plus at the beginning of the 2019 season, MLB added their officials to the replay room and only they were able to see real time feeds. The teams were given 8 second delay feeds. This indicates there was still wide-spread use of camera feeds.

I think there is a lot of electronic stealing going on. Fiers was ticked off that the Astros didn't offer him after the 2017 season. 2019 rolls around, the Astros use him for batting practice in September (1 inning 9 runs), and he goes after them in the Athletic about 2017. Controversy makes money and it takes off. I am curious how many electronic sign stealing systems have been shut down this off-season.

HITTING SPLITS:
You can look at splits for all sorts of players and you will always be able to find a large variance when looking at 7 game series. 1 hit when looking at only home or away stats can equal a 60 - 90 point swing in the batting average.

People post Altuve, Correa, and McCann (seriously?) home and away splits as proof. They never post George Springers splits which were better at LA and he was the MVP.

Here is a split for the 2017 Yankees vs Astros in the ALCS.

Judge Home 0.444 4 R 6 RBI
Away 0.133 1 R 1 RBI
Gregorius Home 0.417 2 R 1 RBI
Away 0.125 0 R 0 RBI
Headley Home 0.625 2 R 1 RBI
Away 0.200 0 R 0 RBI
Frazier Home 0.300 3 R 3 RBI
Away 0.083 0 R 1 RBI
 

SLVRBK

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As an Astros fan it's disappointing to learn of how the team was stealing signs. Also disappointed to learn that Hinch didn't do more to stop it. Did it help them? There are videos of some big hits when the batter was given a signal from the bench (banging) but in the season splits the Astros were better on the road then at home. Better batting average, more hits, more runs, more HR, etc...in nearly every category.

MLB has said electronic devices (buzzers) were investigated but there wasn't evidence any were used.

Players aren't punished because, as said previously, the big leagues would be missing a lot of people.

MLB has said the they cannot definitively say they won the series due to sign stealing therefore Astros keep the title...but it will always be viewed and talked about with an asterisk.
 
Jan 13, 2008
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As an Astros fan it's disappointing to learn of how the team was stealing signs. Also disappointed to learn that Hinch didn't do more to stop it.
Agreed. I think Hinch's firing is the biggest hit to the Astros. I think he will be managing in the MLB in 2021.

I want to throw-up every time I hear Bannister's name mentioned as possible replacement for the Astros.
 

ScooberJake

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Did it help them? There are videos of some big hits when the batter was given a signal from the bench (banging) but in the season splits the Astros were better on the road then at home. Better batting average, more hits, more runs, more HR, etc...in nearly every category...
The standard for cheating isn't whether or not the cheating helped. That has nothing to do with it. You either broke the rules or you didn't. Anything else is hogwash.

I'm not a rules expert, but from what I have read they definitely broke the rules. Of course sign stealing is part of the game. The rules don't require a runner at second base to close his eyes until he hears contact. And the gamesmanship of using your eyes, being smart, and picking up on tells is all part of the wonderful tapestry that is baseball. But those things have been going on since the 1800s. This is worlds different.

MLB has said the they cannot definitively say they won the series due to sign stealing therefore Astros keep the title...but it will always be viewed and talked about with an asterisk.
With that standard you will literally never take away a title. They might as well come out and say "whoever cheats the best wins."

Although the scandal does bring press and eyeballs for a short time, I think it will ultimately turn people away. Why should I care if this all comes down to video feeds and gizmos? What is the point of any sport if people don't play by the rules?

Another black eye on baseball. (Are there any eyes left to blacken?) Shame on the Astros, but if nothing more is done shame on MLB. I lost much of my interest after the steroids, but now I am basically done. Baseball will continue it's slow decline toward obscurity. And people think they can fix it with better food and pitch timers. :angry:
 

SLVRBK

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The standard for cheating isn't whether or not the cheating helped. That has nothing to do with it. You either broke the rules or you didn't. Anything else is hogwash.

I'm not a rules expert, but from what I have read they definitely broke the rules. Of course sign stealing is part of the game. The rules don't require a runner at second base to close his eyes until he hears contact. And the gamesmanship of using your eyes, being smart, and picking up on tells is all part of the wonderful tapestry that is baseball. But those things have been going on since the 1800s. This is worlds different.



With that standard you will literally never take away a title. They might as well come out and say "whoever cheats the best wins."

Although the scandal does bring press and eyeballs for a short time, I think it will ultimately turn people away. Why should I care if this all comes down to video feeds and gizmos? What is the point of any sport if people don't play by the rules?

Another black eye on baseball. (Are there any eyes left to blacken?) Shame on the Astros, but if nothing more is done shame on MLB. I lost much of my interest after the steroids, but now I am basically done. Baseball will continue it's slow decline toward obscurity. And people think they can fix it with better food and pitch timers. :angry:
I agree with you.
I find the Home/Away splits interesting. Astros pitches had lower Opp BA at home than on the road, while the O had worse BA at home. Did giving a signal about pitches affect how the players swung the bat...I think of Springer swinging out of his shoes trying to send something over the fence...and did that result in worse performance?
 
Jan 13, 2008
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Another black eye on baseball. (Are there any eyes left to blacken?) Shame on the Astros, but if nothing more is done shame on MLB. I lost much of my interest after the steroids, but now I am basically done. Baseball will continue it's slow decline toward obscurity. And people think they can fix it with better food and pitch timers. :angry:
Do you realize they were the THIRD team that has been fined for electronic sign stealing form the 2017 season?
https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/mlb-rules-on-red-sox-yankees-sign-stealing-and-fines-both-teams/

Just because the level of punishment doesn't meet your criteria, doesn't make the punishment insufficient.

MLB wants this to go away, because they don't want to have to investigate the Yankees, Dodgers, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, and Rangers. Those are a few of the names, I've heard in various articles over the last week. During the investigation, Houston reported 8 teams of doing similar things.

I think illegal sign stealing has become less of a problem since the Red Sox - Yankee 2017 ordeal. I also believe it will continue to decrease because of the Astro penalties.
 
Feb 25, 2008
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From a 2006 NPR story about 1951 sign stealing. Sounds very familiar to now.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6186829

On Oct. 3, 1951, one of Major League Baseball's greatest moments took place. In the bottom of the 9th inning, the New York Giants beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4, winning the National League Pennant. Batter Bobby Thomson's three-run homer became legendary. Deborah Amos talks to writer Joshua Prager, who reveals that the Giants had an unusual home-field advantage.

.....

Mr. JOSHUA PRAGER (Author, The Echoing Green): There was a clubhouse in centerfield at The Polo Grounds that looked out directly onto the field. And the Giants set a coach - Herman Franks, who had been the third base coach -they positioned him in the fourth window there, and they gave him a telescope. And he peered through that window with this telescope at the finger signals of the opposing catchers. And once he had sussed(ph) out the sign, he pressed the button. And that button buzzed a buzzer in the right field bullpen, where the Giant pitchers were warming up.

One buzz was a fastball. Two buzzes was an off-speed pitch. And it was there that a backup catcher - generally, Sal Yvars - relayed the sign to the batter. So pretty much, it went spying the sign, relaying the signal and then relaying it by a hand signal to the batter.