Why not Cheat? by Bob Ryan

Without question, the MLB has been shaken to its core by the continuing revelations of the deceit, planning, coordination and plain ol’ cheating of the Houston Astros. From my eyes, ALL of the players, coaches, manager are totally responsible as more and more evidence trickles out from behind the computer–perched just inside of the A-stros dugout.

….It started at the top! This wasn’t a “spur of the moment” episode that spiraled into a full team espionage system.. the idea was hatched in the team’s front office back in Sept 2016 with the label “Codebreaker” and introduced to Jeff Luhnow at that time. Initially, “Codbreaker” utilized the baseball operarations & video room staff to record the signs of the opponents electronically, enter it into a Micrsoft Excel spreadsheet—which led to an algorithm analyzing what each sign meant. That info was relayed to batters…that developed into a relay system in 2017 of using the “banging trash cans scheme” that indicated to each batter the type of pitch that he would receive on that pitch. Somehow, it evolved to a buzzer system for a couple of the star players.

….The Team Leader ruled the mob! At 40 years of age, playing in his 20th season, had earned over $220m in his career but had never worn a World Series Championship Ring, Carlos Beltran emerges as the “ruling boss”. Players described him as the “Godfather”of the clubhouse. Now that’s its exposed…. some players say that they were afraid to approach Beltran to express their disdain for the operation. One player said Beltran “steamrolled” everyone, to the point that even manager AJ Hinch seemed to be afraid to challenge Beltran for fear of losing credibility in the clubhouse. THAT sounds like C..Y..A to me! Ironically, a player noted, “Beltrán, who is the godfather of the whole program, just swings at everything after taking a strike and probably does the worst with the info,” one player said.

…back in 1919, the several of the Chicago White Sox players, including star player, Shoeless Joe Jackson, were charged on 9 counts of conspiracy for “throwing” the  World Series to the Cincy Reds. They were acquitted. The next day AFTER the acquittal, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, newly appointed  baseball’s 1st commissioner, ruled that all 8 players were permanently banned from organized baseball. Sadly, it seems the star, Joe Jackson signed papers, with the others, regarding the arrangement. Years later it was realized that Jackson could not read or write so had no idea what he was signing! That team is now referred to as the Chicago Black Sox.

Some other ramifications…..

…At a bare minimum, I feel like the Astros should be removed as the Winner of the World Series in 2017, repay back their winning share and name LA Dodgers the WS champs. Sadly, the Dodgers also lost in following year to Boston, who also was using a version of the Astros “sign stealing” system.

….other MLB players are beginning to express their “real” feelings about the situation. Angel pitcher Andrew Heaney expressed it most bluntly (its been sanitized)…. “Somebody in the locker room had to say, ‘this is —- up. We shouldn’t be doing this.’ For nobody to stand up and say, ‘we’re cheating other players,’ that sucks. That’s a __ feeling for everybody. I hope they feel like ___.

…with this elaborate relay system of sign stealing, monitors right behind the dugout…. trash can being banged or not with different pitches… I just can’t believe that Jeff Albert, Ast Houston Batting Coach at the time and now the Cardinals Batting Coach.. didn’t know ANYthing about the scheme. Did he live in a cacoon? Looking at the Cardinals batting results from last year, one would have a difficult time saying that he REALLY made a positive impact on the club. On the other hand…if he actually WAS that unobservant in Houston with the batters…do you really think that he’ll be attentive enough to help & assist the StL batters?

…Pete Rose… exiled to Baseball’s Siberia and ruled out of an HOF vote due to his betting on baseball…has asked to be reconsidered. One could argue that his “crime” of betting isn’t as negative as organizing meticulously a sign stealing electronic system that impacted the actual, immediate play of the game. I think that he actually DOES have a point. Now…I must say as a young man watching Rose play with his extreme hustle… he was called “Charlie Hustle”….his durability,bat control and “all in” skills that I’d probably lean to his corner on this particular debate.

…from another angle, while the sign stealing scheme definitely elevated the platy of the A-stros, it impacted negatively on the stats & lives of their opponents. Former MLB hurler Mike Bolsinger has filed a lawsuit against the Houston Astros. In his last MLB performance as a pitcher for the Blue Jays on Aug 4, 2017 he was “roughed up” on the mound as the sign stealing was at its zenith. He was sent down the minors immediately following the game. Bolsinger’s claim is that his Astros performance…which was assisted through the illegal sign stealing scheme….cost him an MLB roster spot. By all the numbers, it appears Bolsinger was a marginal MLB player. He was 8-16, ERA 4.92 and a WHIP (walks & Hit per inn pitched) in his 4 MLB years of 1.513. But….should Bolsinger get on the docket and the “discovery phase” is reached….then the can of worms….of questions about the “fairness” of baseball…or lack of it….and what the Astros actually knew about in those days would go public. While the case seems a bit lame to me, Houston may have to “buy him out” to shut the door in that direction.

….yet another player bemoans a lost…once of a lifetime… opportunity due to the Astros cheating. David Robertson was on the Yankees roster in 2017. He was the closer in the LCS for NYY … a spot that he’d probably never be again…and that he was upset by the Astros cheating. He said recently, “I got roughed up in Game 6,” he said. “I felt like in that game I threw as well as I’ve ever thrown in my entire life. I had some pitches that got hit that I was a little shocked by and some pitches that didn’t get swung at that I was a little shocked by. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about what we know now. But it all comes together now and, you know, I’m upset about it, that’s for sure. “I’m never going to get 2017 back. I can’t say moving forward I’ll ever get to pitch in a LCS again, but I’ll never get THAT season back with that opportunity to win a World Series.”

…just heard the lame apologies from Alex Bregman & Jose Altuve…they didn’t even SOUND sincere in their statements. Sorry? I doubt it…only sorry they were caught.

…my ol’ south side nature of play fair or I’ll make you play fair probably would have led me to tell the catcher…give me a sign for a curve then I’ll buzz one right under his chin. Repeat …if necessary, repeat for next batter. They’ll get the message as they get up out of the dirt & the catcher says, “stop it”.

…so why not cheat? The mild reprimand….2 players mouthing weak apologies… amounts to nothing. In 2001, Sandy Alderson, while serving as executive vice president for baseball operations of MLB, issued a memorandum stating that teams cannot use electronic equipment to communicate with each other during games, especially for the purpose of stealing signs. So THERE was the MLB position on the issue. I realize that the ol’ school life-time ban won’t fly….the power of the MLB Players Union seems to over-ride the MLB rules…and a memorandum isn’t a rule….but a strong, very strong message must be sent to the players & teams. How about a ban of a year? 82 games(1/2 season)? 100 years ago the players were banned PERMANENTLY. In 2020, the Commissioner MUST step up and administer punishments to the Astros players. If he doesn’t, in 6 weeks the players will probably be asking, “who’s sending the signs to the batter”?

What do you think? I’m anxious to read YOUR thoughts….post them on facebook, on prepcasts.com or send me an email. Thx for the read!

Comments

  1. A whole blog dedicated to the Cheating Astros. I have a number of thoughts, most of which agree with your comments;
    1. Sad that no one in the Astros organization or dugout would step up and say “This is not right! We should not be doing this.”
    2. Tony LaRusso’s name came up “briefly” for stealing signs when he was with the White Sox. How come that story was so short lived? If he did it in Chicago, and it worked. Then he came to STL, hard to believe he didn’t try to do it here too. Although no one has said anything like that.
    3. Astros in 2017 and Red Sox in 2018. How many other teams are stealing signs electronically? Surely not just these two ‘World Championship’ teams. Any idea that gives a team a minimal edge is instantly repeated through out the league. How long did it take for teams to start using ‘the shift’ for certain players? Today, how many teams DO NOT use the shift?
    4. I am like you in that I loved watching Pete Rose play. In fact when I couched in Perryville, we named one player after every game as “Charlie Hustle” and had a chart on the gym bulletin board acknowledging that honor. His offense seems minor compared to this.
    5. When the Astros owner Jim Crane first came out with a statement that said “We will not allow this in our organization”, I thought ‘Good for you!’ Now after hearing the weakest apologies ever, from owner to players to new manager, i feel like they should just own the mistake and it would be easier to move on. The whitewashing of the problem is not helping their PR at all.
    6. I think the World Championship should be taken from the Astros and Red Sox. Not sure it should be awarded to the Dodgers, but surely the MLB can’t let it stand can they? Then they are whitewashing the problem too.
    JS

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