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Baseball

Stealing Signs is Fine, What the Astros Did is Not

My father used to tell me when I was young, “the dirt always comes out in the wash”. Now, all I was doing was lying and telling my dad I wasn’t smoking weed (I was), but this? This is something bigger. You see, for years we heard rumors and innuendo about sign stealing, especially when it comes to the Houston Astros. 

Well, those accusations finally came to light this past week. Former Astros pitcher and current Oakland Athletics Pitcher Mike Fiers spoke to The Athletic online newspaper about his former teams sign stealing ways. Fiers actually explained the set up the Astros had for stealing signs.

The team had a feed from a camera that was in center field, which was fixed on the opposing catcher’s signals. That feed was hooked up to a TV monitor that was placed on a wall between the Astros’ dugout and the clubhouse. Team employees and players would then watch the screen and try to decode the signs to relay the message to the better via banging on a trash can to indicate an off speed pitch was coming. One of my favorite YouTube channels, Jomboy Media, actually made a video that appears to show exactly what the Astros are accused of.

The area between the clubhouse and dugout where a TV was placed
The Athletic

“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing. Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It’s [B.S.] on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys. The guys who know are more prepared. But most people don’t. That’s why I told my team. We had a lot of young guys with Detroit [in 2018] trying to make a name and establish themselves. I wanted to help them out and say, ‘Hey, this stuff really does go on. Just be prepared.'”

Mike Fiers to The Athletic
Thomas B. Shea – USA TODAY Sports

The MLB and the Houston Astros themselves has launched an investigation into the reports. This isn’t the first time the Astros have been accused of stealing signs. Their 2017 World Series opponent Los Angeles Dodgers had their suspicions that the team was using a system beyond the norm to steal signs.

Also, according to reports, other teams around the league had warned the Washington Nationals before the World Series about the Astros stealing signs. The Astros’ ALCS opponents, the New York Yankees, also accused the Astros of whistling from the dugout in order to help steal signs.

Troy Taormina

All I’m getting at here is that this isn’t new. Many teams and players around the league have been accusing the Astros of stealing signs using alternative methods. Stealing signs is a part of baseball, in between the lines. By that, I mean if you’re a base runner, and you find a way to relay information to the batter, that’s a part of the game. That’s on the catcher to make sure he’s covering up his signs when a runner is on first, and it’s on the pitcher and catcher to change up their signs when a runner is on second.

But once you start using technology, all bets are off. I’ll go one further. If there’s a first base coach or a third base coach that’s signaling signs to the batter, that’s just as bad. If it doesn’t happen in between the lines, it shouldn’t happen. This isn’t the first time that the Astros have been accused, and now it’s not by an opponent, it’s by a former player.

Barstool Sports

Fiers brought up an incredible point. Pitchers were sent down and people lost their jobs because this team decided to cheat in a way that gives a totally unfair advantage. I’m not the only one who thinks so either. Players from around baseball have been chiming in on the controversy as well.

Reds pitcher Kevin Gausman had some strong opinions on the subject.

One of the Astros opponents in the ALCS, Aaron Judge kept it short and sweet in his response.

Judge wasn’t the only one on the Yankees to share his feelings on the news.

Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger had one of the most savage tweets, going so far as to tag Alex Bregman himself in his tweet.

Red Sox pitcher Carson Smith went on a tangent on Twitter, with it all beginning with this one tweet.

Look, I understand it’s sports and many people still believe that old cliche, “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin'”. But baseball is a sport with plenty of unwritten rules and also has a big tradition. When the Astros decided to use technology, they opened themselves up for big time punishment. Especially after MLB had punished the Red Sox for the Apple Watch scandal in 2017.

I truly believe MLB needs to come down hard on the Astros, that includes management, ownership, and everybody involved. Including Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora if they are found out to be a part of this. You can call me a biased Yankee fan, but I could honestly say if this were the Yankees, I’d be even more disgusted. I don’t like cheating, no matter who the perpetrators are and this is cheating. No matter how you try to slice it.

Featured photo source: NBC Sports

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