BASEBALL IS BROKEN

Major League Baseball has been rocked to its very core as the Houston Astros were officially declared to be cheating by MLB investigators while winning the 2017 world series. The fallout resulting in multiple firings throughout the league as newly hired coaches and managers from that 2017  team were immediately let go. The league itself not caught up in a shameful scandal of this multitude since the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

STEALING SIGNS

Stealing signs in major league baseball has long been accepted as just part of the game. Simply a way to gain advantage over your competitor. Most if not all teams are in on this in some way or another but some teams like the Houston Astros have been taking stealing signs to a whole new level. In direct violation of MLB rules the Houston Astros have been caught cheating and were doing so in 2017 — the year they won it all!

In the old days, before the rise of digital technologies, sign stealing was a tedious chore of watching repetitive signs from opposing catchers trying to decipher how many fingers meant throw a fastball and how many meant a curve-ball was coming. Once and if the sign code was deciphered, a way to alert the player at bat was needed next. This usually occurred when a runner was at second and could more easily see the catchers signs and then relay them to the hitter via signaling body moves.

However, once the opposing team suspected this was going on, they would change their signs in-game and the process would have to start all over again. A game within a game, all well and good!

NEW TECHNOLOGIES

With the progression of modern technology, video taping became possible and seeing what sign meant what pitch became much easier to decipher. Still, this technology was only available team-wise after the game was over and when next the same two teams met you could be sure the signs had been changed. Then came the digital age. Now you can record and send your video instantly to any number of devices and get instant feedback during the game.

However, Major League Baseball deemed this kind of action as cheating and it was by rule banned from the game. Yet stealing signs have long been part of the game and no-team had ever been officially charged with cheating under the new rules. That is until Monday January 13, 2020 when the Houston Astros were found to be in violation and dealt the most severe punishment against any major league team in modern history.

THE HOUSTON ASTROS

Major League Baseball suspended GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for the entire 2020 season after both failed to prevent an elaborate and specifically outlawed electronic sign-stealing scheme employed during the club’s 2017 World Series-winning season. Also fining the organization $5 million and stripping them of first and second-round draft picks in 2020-2021. A day latter, owner Jim Crane fired both of them.

The MLB Department of Investigations concluded that the Houston Astros were illegally using an electronic sign-stealing system to decode and relay opponents’ signs. Official doc. report — documents/6631460/MLB-Issues-Report-Re-Astros-Investigation.

CONDENSED EXERPTS

“At the beginning of the 2017 season, employees in the Astros’ video replay review room began using the live game feed from the center field camera to attempt to decode and transmit opposing teams’ sign sequences,”

As the season went on, bench coach (now Red Sox manager) Alex Cora “began to call the replay review room on the replay phone to obtain the sign information.” Cora arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor displaying the center field camera feed immediately outside of the Astros’ dugout.” “One or more players watched the live feed of the center field camera on the monitor, and after decoding the sign, a player would bang a nearby trash can with a bat to communicate the upcoming pitch type to the batter.”

The next day after the Astro’s firings, the Boston Red Sox fired manager Alex Cora for his part in the Astros 2017 cheating fiasco. Then the New York Mets fired newly hired manager Carlos Beltran for his involvement in the Astro’s cheating scheme. MLB is also investigating the Red Sox follow-up 2018 season when Cora was Boston’s bench manager in which they also won the world Series.

NEW ALLEGATIONS ARISE

Now even more accusations are swirling with Astros star Jose Altuve said to have had a hidden buzzer under his jersey that would signal what pitch was coming next. This while homering off of Yankees star reliever Aroldis Chapman that eliminated the Yankees from the 2017 playoffs.

Sadly it seems, the Astros cheating scandal grows deeper and darker with each passing day as new allegations are brought to the surface. MLB hasn’t had to contend with a cheating scandal of this magnitude since the 1919 Black Sox scandal where allegedly Chicago White Sox players accepted bribes to intentionally lose the world series. And now this! Truly today Baseball is Broken. The question is, can it be fixed?

PERSPECTIVE

Although the Houston Astros 2017 championship will now be forever tainted, the players it seems will still get to keep the World Series trophy, the money, and all the rings. After being found guilty of cheating does this seem right to you? And not just cheating during the playoff run but right from the start of the season winning an incredible 101 games and finishing first in their division.

Yes the league came down hard (hard enough?) as it should have on the managers and coaches directly involved but you can’t tell me that even one of the players on the team didn’t know about this scheme. I know you can’t suspend them all, but shouldn’t they be punished for cheating as well? For dragging the team’s and the League’s name through the mud in this way?

And what about all the other teams in the league? Weren’t they directly affected when loosing to the Astros unfairly and in direct violation of the league rules? What about the teams that lost to the Astros in the playoffs and lost unfairly their chance at a World Series title perhaps now having to wait years for another chance. Oops sorry? My Bad?

Shouldn’t the league go even further by rescinding the Astro’s 2017 World Series Title and forever striking their name from the champions list? Further-more, perhaps fining all the players in the amount previously paid out for winning the ill-gotten championship money they received. It seems a reasonable act to me and the ultimate deterrent for teams thinking of cheating in the future.

After all, the very integrity of the game itself is on the line and here’s an opportunity to make it right again. By reinforcing the life lesson taught to all of us at a very young age — Cheaters never Prosper!

Was the punishment handed down by MLB sufficient in your eyes?

What Do You Think?

THE WORD OF WAYNE

When you think about it, there’s a long tradition of cheating in baseball. So much so that its pretty much become part of the game. Starting when you were a kid playing little league, when teams would stack their lineup with ringers, hunting them down to play for their side. Or using over-aged players in tournaments, swearing that they were not. Baseball and cheating really go hand in hand. History is full of Baseball cheaters.

From using enhancing steroids’ to swinging with corked bats. Pitchers slyly adding foreign substance to the ball before the pitch. Or gouging even filing them for better grips. This recently still occurring. Players betting in secret on the games their playing a la Pete Rose or hacking into opposing team computers to gain extra insight as the St. Louis Cardinals were alleged to do so recently.

Stealing signs has been the least of these woes. That is, till technologies have made this more easily and secretly done. So this particular scandal should really come as no surprise, because Baseball has always been played by those looking for an edge to win. Be it legally — or not!

WordofWayne©

 

 

 

 

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