Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback



All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


Jim Furtado
Founder & Publisher


Sign Stealing Newsbeat

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

MLB Pins Red Sox Violations on Staffer (sub. required)

Major League Baseball’s ruling on the Boston Red Sox’s illegal sign stealing in 2018 determined the primary culprit was not the front office, manager Alex Cora or the players, but the team’s video replay system operator.
The league, in findings that will be released Wednesday afternoon, suspended the operator, J.T. Watkins, and docked the Red Sox a second-round pick in the 2020 draft. It also suspended Cora through the conclusion of the 2020 postseason, but only for his conduct as Astros bench coach in 2017, not as Red Sox manager in ’18, when the team won 108 games and the World Series.
Following a January report from The Athletic on the Red Sox’s conduct, Commissioner Rob Manfred found that Watkins, on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season, illegally utilized game feeds in the replay room to help players during games — an undertaking less egregious than the Astros’ famed 2017 sign-stealing scheme.
The league did not find that Boston’s impermissible conduct continued during the 2018 postseason or 2019 regular season.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

On Marwin Gonzalez and voiding contracts

Let’s start with this prerequisite: the Twins can’t sue Marwin for anything. That’s because of something called labor law preemption, which is to say that the Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the MLBPA provides the exclusive remedy for a team looking to get out from under a contract.

We’ve seen how this plays out with Yoenis Cespedes and Jacoby Ellsbury recently. The Mets didn’t want to pay Cespedes because of an incident involving a wild boar, and the Yankees didn’t want to pay Ellsbury because he received treatment from a purportedly unapproved doctor. So if the Twins wanted to get out from under Marwin’s contract, it would probably play out something like that; they’d refuse to pay him, and Marwin would file a grievance. Alternatively, the Twins could file a grievance against Gonzalez.

There are a couple of wrinkles, though. Marwin played half of his contract already, so the Twins can’t ask back for the money they already paid him for games he already played. Plus, he played pretty well, and the Twins won 103 games, so it’s hard to say that the team was harmed. So let’s assume that the team just seeks to void the second year of Marwin’s contract because of the cheating scandal. Maybe the Twins decide they just don’t want a cheater on their team.

Major League Baseball contracts are fully guaranteed, meaning that barring a breach or violation of that contract, the player gets the full amount of money in the contract (excepting options, bonuses, and the like). Now, therein is the problem: both Cespedes and Ellsbury had money withheld by the teams because of actions they purportedly took whilst under that contract. The Yankees complained about a doctor that Ellsbury saw while he was a Yankee. The Twins saying that they have a right to not pay Gonzalez because of the cheating scandal is analogous to the Yankees saying they wouldn’t pay Ellsbury because of something he did when he was with the Red Sox.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 26, 2020 at 06:37 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: sign stealing

Monday, February 17, 2020

Disciplining Astros not as easy for MLB as Altuve revealing a tattoo

If only there was a strong Commissioner and no MLBPA, the players complaining about no player discipline would get the justice they are craving.

Some of their union leadership need to educate its body a little better on union/contract protections.

Even more crucial would be the aforementioned lack of notice. Four labor lawyers with first-hand knowledge of the grievance process agreed: the lack of notice from the Astros to their players would have made any case pursued by the league practically DOA. Yes, grievance hearings do now and again end with surprising results, but the probability tilted significantly toward any potential suspension being overturned, the lawyers said.

Facing that reality, the league made a value judgment: It would offer the players immunity in hopes of gathering the full story of the Astros’ sign-stealing exploits and rely upon the details of Manfred’s report to bend the public toward the idea that the league had sought and delivered justice.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 17, 2020 at 10:11 PM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, mlbpa, sign stealing

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Rosenthal: Carlos Correa rips Bellinger, passionately defends Altuve and says the Astros deserve their 2017 title – The Athletic

I don’t agree with everything Carlos Correa says in the interview but he’s handling the situation better than anyone else.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 15, 2020 at 02:25 PM | 78 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, carlos correa, sign stealing

Rizzo won’t be satisfied until Astros admit they “cheated” - Nationals Pastime

To that list, you can add Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, who today spoke as emphatically as anyone about his dissatisfaction, not only with what the Astros did but how they’ve addressed it since getting caught.

“Someone has got to say the word over there: ‘Cheated.’ That’s important to me,” Rizzo said. “And for the sport to move on, which is what I’m most concerned about, we have to make sure that all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed on this investigation before we end it.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 15, 2020 at 08:01 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, nationals, sign stealing

Trevor Bauer was asked about the Astros. He didn’t hold back on his answer – The Athletic

There is a lot of smoke about the Astros not being alone in the way they stole signs. Where are all the other whistleblowers? If it’s true the problem indeed existed outside the Astros clubhouse, MLB needs to extend their investigation and not sweep the wider problem under the rug. If it’s not true, the Astros will fairly have to continue to eat the entire problem. I won’t hold my breath.

I don’t try … I don’t bother, I don’t go out of my way to bother anybody. I try not to interfere or interject myself into anyone else’s affairs, but if you come at me, I feel like I have every right to defend myself. Now they’ve chosen to make it about me and attack my character, I’m not going to let them forget the fact that they are hypocrites, they are cheaters, they’ve stolen from a lot of other people and the game itself was completely unfair. They’ve negatively affected the fans, they’ve negatively affected players, they’ve negatively affected kids and the future of baseball – which is what I’m most upset about. Now all the things they do really well as an organization are going to get completely washed away and forgotten about so the next generation of kids gets set back five or 10 years on the analytics, training and health and all the different stuff they do really well.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 15, 2020 at 07:28 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, sign stealing, trevor bauer

Friday, February 14, 2020

Drellich: Blame is a tangled mess in Astros sign-stealing scandal – The Athletic

Good stuff by Evan Drellich.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 14, 2020 at 08:57 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, sign stealing

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A.J. Hinch ‘not aware’ of any Astros buzzers -

I look forward to the death of this topic.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 13, 2020 at 07:02 AM | 94 comment(s)
  Beats: a.j. hinch, astros, sign stealing

Friday, February 07, 2020

‘Dark Arts’ and ‘Codebreaker’: The Origins of the Houston Astros Cheating Scheme - WSJ

I can’t see how Luhnow gets another job in a MLB front office. His continued denials aren’t believable.

Vigoa’s presentation wasn’t the only time Astros employees say Luhnow was informed about Codebreaker. Koch-Weser, the Astros’ director of advance information, said he discussed Codebreaker with Luhnow in one to three meetings after the 2016 season.

Koch-Weser told MLB that Luhnow would “giggle” at the title and appeared “excited” about it. Koch-Weser also said that Luhnow sometimes entered the Astros’ video room during road games and made comments such as, “You guys Codebreaking?”

Luhnow denied Koch-Weser’s accounts.

Other Astros employees told MLB’s investigators that they believed Luhnow knew about Codebreaker, but they provided no definitive proof. Matt Hogan, now the Astros’ manager of pro scouting analysis, told investigators there was no effort to hide the use of Codebreaker in front of Luhnow when he visited the video room. In fact, he told them, “it would have been something to show we were working and get validation of our work.” Luhnow denied seeing evidence of sign-stealing during those visits.

In October 2018, Luhnow met with Koch-Weser to discuss a potential contract extension. In preparation, Koch-Weser outlined his arguments for an extension in a Slack post that included the term “dark arts.” He wrote, in part: “Lastly, I know the secrets that made us a championship team, some of which he[’]d definitely feel a lot safer if they were kept in-house.” Koch-Weser told MLB investigators that during his meeting with Luhnow, he used either the term “dark arts” or “codebreaking” to tout his efforts. Luhnow denied that Koch-Weser referenced either of those things./blockquote>

Jim Furtado Posted: February 07, 2020 at 07:08 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: jeff luhnow, sign stealing

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The best ways to steal signs in baseball

John Rickert, a mathematician at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and proud member of the Society for American Baseball Research, came to the same conclusion. He says he’d use heads-up displays: smart glasses that convey messages to the batter without anyone else seeing (or hearing) a thing. That’s not too far off from the Bluetooth-packing sunnies and display-enabled lenses already available on the market.

Other methods of sign stealing could layer tech with coded language—a method that’s sometimes known as steganography, says Rickert’s colleague Nate Chenette.

“It’s the ages-old process of hiding not just the message, but the fact there is a message,” Chenette, a cryptographer, explains. “This goes back to ancient times. There are wonderful stories, like, maybe a general would tattoo a slave’s head with directions for their army and grow some hair over it.” The heavily regulated world of baseball could channel that concept. For instance, a team might embed a cipher in the pixels of its scoreboard to tell a batter what pitch to expect.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 30, 2020 at 10:33 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sign stealing

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Ryan Zimmerman on electronic sign stealing: ‘It’s the greatest sin that you can do’

When the Nationals faced the Astros in the 2019 World Series, the public didn’t yet know Houston’s electronic sign-stealing scheme helped propel the club to its first championship just two years prior.

But less than two weeks after Washington beat the AL West champs in seven games and claimed a World Series title of their own, The Athletic reported that Houston had in fact been using a live camera feed to steal opposing catchers’ signs and report them back to their hitters in real time by banging on a trash can behind the dugout.

Although Houston was only found to have used the scheme in 2017 and not against Washington this past October, the Nationals changed up their signs frequently and used plastic cards to create intricate sets of signals that could be alternated from inning to inning or batter to batter.

Recently re-signed first baseman Ryan Zimmerman spoke with reporters on a conference call Tuesday just a few hours after the team made his new one-year deal official. When asked about his thoughts on the Astros scandal—one that has also stretched to Boston, where the Red Sox are being investigated for an alleged scheme they carried out in 2018—Zimmerman took a definitive stance against people within the game who use technology to steal signs.

I’d be inclined to find consorting with gamblers worse- but MLB has chosen to go all-in on that…..


QLE Posted: January 29, 2020 at 01:11 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, ryan zimmerman, sign stealing

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Sign stealing in baseball is nothing new. The punishment now being meted out is absurd.

No one had the foresight to expect problems before the video systems were installed in the locker rooms? If the violations are so serious that you need to hand out year-long suspensions, you’d better be investigating every team with a hint of suspicion. Otherwise people will think the severity of the punishments are more about face-saving for the Commissioner than justice.

This is an extreme overreaction. Baseball, more than any of the other major professional sports, has cheating baked into the core of its existence. Cheating is as integral to baseball as sunflower seeds and older men in children’s uniforms screaming at umpires. Baseball losing its mind to this degree is just asinine. Sign stealing, like basically all the cheating in the game, is only marginally helpful, at-bat for at-bat. It seems the league has overlearned the lessons of the steroid era and is desperate to seem like it takes policing cheating seriously lest those dark days are revived.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 16, 2020 at 03:04 PM | 109 comment(s)
  Beats: sign stealing

Carlos Beltran: Mets manager out after Astros’ cheating scandal

Another casualty. At this point, if MLB is really serious about really getting to the bottom of this problem and fairness, they need to investigate *EVERY* team. Let’s get another 20 managers and GM suspended.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 16, 2020 at 01:19 PM | 120 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, carlos beltran, mets, sign stealing

To stop sign stealing, MLB could fight tech with more tech

PHOENIX (AP) — If Major League Baseball really wants to stop its teams from electronically stealing signs, it might consider fighting technology with more technology.

In a sport that’s increasingly driven by analytics and advancements, the majority of signs between players and coaches are still transmitted by low-tech hand signals that have been used for decades. Those hand signals are easily captured by the loads of video equipment around MLB stadiums that are used for television, replays and all kinds of stat tracking.

All that technology can be — and obviously has been — used for cheating. The Houston Astros were hit with stiff punishment on Monday after an MLB investigation found the team used electronics to steal signs during the franchise’s run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season. Manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a season and then fired by Astros owner Jim Crane.

Boston manager Alex Cora was fired on Tuesday for his involvement with the Astros’ scheme and a separate ongoing investigation that involves the Red Sox.

Is it just me, or does this assumption of a technological solution have the seeds of further chaos down the road in it?


QLE Posted: January 16, 2020 at 12:39 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: sign stealing, techno ethics, technology

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

MLB’s sign-stealing controversy broadens: Sources say the Red Sox used video replay room illegally in 2018 – The Athletic

Before the 2018 season, after years of barely enforcing its broad rules regarding replay rooms, the league made it crystal clear: Replay rooms cannot be used to help steal signs. The newly clarified rules, in combination with the fines the league levied on the Red Sox and Yankees and warnings it issued in ’17, were intended to end the replay-room chicanery.

For the Red Sox, and possibly other clubs, it did not.[emphasis added]

Jim Furtado Posted: January 07, 2020 at 10:38 AM | 106 comment(s)
  Beats: red sox, sign stealing

Sunday, December 01, 2019

‘Losing a war that you weren’t informed of’: Some MLB pitchers are livid over electronic sign stealing – The Athletic

Since The Athletic broke the news that the Houston Astros stole signs electronically in 2017, the fallout has mostly been framed as an Astros vs. the-rest-of-MLB scandal. But this line of thought is misguided, or at least incomplete for a couple of reasons.

First, we don’t necessarily know everything that the Astros were doing, or whether they were the only team to do it. Beyond that, regardless of who was doing what and how widespread it was, both commissioner Rob Manfred and the players union will have to soothe a critical undercurrent if they hope to move the game forward.

The issue? Pitchers want blood.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 01, 2019 at 08:51 AM | 73 comment(s)
  Beats: pay site, sign stealing




All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF


Thanks to
Infinite Yost (Voxter)
for his generous support.


You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogMLB owners sending latest plan to MLBPA that includes sliding pay scale for players
(88 - 1:31am, May 30)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogOT – NBA CoronaThread 2020
(3119 - 11:32pm, May 29)
Last: tshipman

NewsblogEmpty Stadium Sports Will Be Really Weird
(4412 - 11:30pm, May 29)
Last: AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-29-2020
(16 - 11:26pm, May 29)
Last: Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome

NewsblogMLB Network to celebrate Derek Jeter's career with 64 consecutive hours of Jeter programming
(13 - 9:28pm, May 29)
Last: Mayor Blomberg

NewsblogBatting .400? A sub-1.00 ERA? Here are the MLB records that could be threatened in an 82-game season
(48 - 8:38pm, May 29)
Last: McCoy

NewsblogA's Tell Minor Leaguers They Won't Be Paid for the Remainder of the Season
(33 - 8:27pm, May 29)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogNot in Missouri anymore: Royals move legal home to Delaware
(4 - 8:16pm, May 29)
Last: The elusive Robert Denby

NewsblogSon of Agassi, Graf could be a future ace
(5 - 8:03pm, May 29)
Last: Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66)

(39 - 7:49pm, May 29)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogFormer Braves catcher Biff Pocoroba dies at 66
(9 - 5:27pm, May 29)
Last: Itchy Row

NewsblogWe Can Show Baseball Reruns, Too
(63 - 12:09pm, May 29)
Last: Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-28-2020
(15 - 11:47am, May 29)
Last: rpackrat

NewsblogHow Johnson, Pedro could have starred in same rotation
(10 - 8:55pm, May 28)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogInside Roy Halladay's struggle with pain, addiction
(12 - 5:28pm, May 28)
Last: Eric J can SABER all he wants to

Page rendered in 1.1807 seconds
124 querie(s) executed