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Sign-stealing Newsbeat

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Judge unseals letter from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to Yankees regarding sign-stealing, per report

Major League Baseball and the Players Association may be continuing their back-and-forth regarding a potentially modified season in light of the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing else interesting going on in the sport. For instance, consider that on Friday U.S. District Court judge Jed S. Rakoff ordered that a letter sent from commissioner Rob Manfred to the New York Yankees concerning a 2017 investigation into sign-stealing be unsealed, according to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.

Rakoff has given the Yankees and MLB until Monday at noon to submit a version of the letter that is “minimally redacted” to protect “privacy interests” of the individuals involved. The Yankees, predictably, are not pleased with the ruling. “There is no justification for public disclosure of the letter,” team attorney Jonathan Schiller said as part of a statement. The Yankees requested a delay so they could submit an appeal.

Judge Rakoff unsealed the letter as part of a class action case brought against the league, the Houston Astros, and the Boston Red Sox by DraftKings players.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 13, 2020 at 02:16 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: sign-stealing, yankees

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Alex Cora: Astros’ sign-stealing wasn’t two-man show

“There has been a narrative out there of what happened. Ever since mid-November until the commissioner announced the results of the Red Sox investigation, I have read many things that are true and many others that are not,” he said. “Out of this whole process, if there is one thing that I completely reject and disagree with is people within the Astros’ organization singling me out, particularly [former general manager] Jeff Luhnow, as if I were the sole mastermind. The commissioner’s report sort of explained, in its own way, what happened. But the [Astros players] have spoken up and refuted any allegations that I was solely responsible.”

He added: “If there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that it was not a two-man show. We all did it. And let me be very clear that I am not denying my responsibility, because we were all responsible.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 11, 2020 at 05:04 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, sign-stealing

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Red Sox Got Slapped on the Wrist for Their Illegal Sign-Stealing

Tonight, on As The Red Sox Turns:

If you were hunkered down under a stay-at-home order waiting for Major League Baseball to release its long-awaited report on the Red Sox’s illegal sign-stealing efforts, then we have good news for you: the wait is over. On Wednesday, the league announced the conclusions of its investigation and the punishments handed down by commissioner Rob Manfred. If you were expecting the discipline to be comparable to that received by the Astros in January, you may want to get back to binge-watching Tiger King, because according to the report, there simply isn’t a lot to see here.

In the case of the Astros, when Manfred issued his report on January 13, he found that the team illegally stole signs during the 2017 regular and postseason and into the 2018 regular season. He suspended president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch for the 2020 season (both were fired by owner Jim Crane within hours), fined the team $5 million (the maximum allowed under MLB’s constitution), and stripped them of their first- and second-round picks in both this year’s and next year’s amateur drafts. When it came to disciplining the Red Sox, however, Manfred only found evidence that the illegal sign-stealing occurred during the 2018 regular season; suspended only J.T. Watkins, the team’s video replay system operator; stripped away only its second-round pick in this year’s draft; and did not fine the team. As with the Astros, no players were punished.

The baseball world waited 3 1/2 months for this? A previously unknown backroom employee has taken the fall for an entire organization while those above him escaped without punishment — it doesn’t get much more anticlimactic than that, nor does it make a whole lot of sense, given the need for intermediaries between the video room and the dugout. And it certainly isn’t a severe enough punishment to act as a deterrent. There isn’t a team among the 30 who wouldn’t trade a second-round draft pick and a single baseball operations employee for a world championship.

Per the report, both former president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who was fired in September, and current general manager Brian O’Halloran were found to be not at fault, having complied with MLB’s mandate to communicate league rules regarding sign-stealing to coaches, players, and non-uniform personnel. Former manager Alex Cora, who was implicated as being central to the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing efforts in his role as the the team’s bench coach, was suspended through the 2020 season, the same penalty that Hinch and Luhnow received; however, he was not additionally disciplined for infractions in Boston.


Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Inside MLB’s Plan to Crack Down on Cheating

Under MLB’s proposed plans, according to several managers and coaches who have heard the presentation, access to the dugout and clubhouse during the game will be limited to players, seven coaches and necessary interpreters and trainers. The measure will be “seriously policed” by an increase in MLB security agents, according to one club staff member present at one of the meetings. Under that proposal, front office staff members—or in the case of the Houston scandal, what commissioner Rob Manfred called the “lower-level baseball operations employees” who originated and executed the scheme—are banned from the clubhouse during games. Such employees often work in video rooms or set up laptops in the clubhouse during games.

“Joe looked right at me and my manager,” said one GM after Torre addressed his staff, “and said, ‘If your team does not comply, you’re gone, and you’re gone.’”

MLB still is working with the union on how far to take the ban on in-game video. In the most extreme measure, all clubhouse televisions will be turned off during games in addition to the video room, as well as a ban against players using their phones during games. (Trainers are allowed to carry phones for medical emergency uses.) One possible allowance, according to several sources, would be to permit one television in the training room that carries the game broadcast, but only on an eight-second delay.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 04, 2020 at 08:37 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: sign-stealing

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Counterpoint: The Astros’ Sign-Stealing Scandal Is Actually Good for Baseball

For those of you curious to see a hot take in the wild:

Baseball is crumbling. The Houston Astros, arguably MLB’s most successful team of the past decade, have been exposed as rampant cheaters. Their punishment is next to nothing, as commissioner Rob Manfred suspended the manager (A.J. Hinch) and general manager (Jeff Luhnow) involved in their scheme while letting the players skate. His grand crisis-control strategy was to downplay the importance of the Astros’ World Series win by referring to the trophy as a “piece of metal.” The past is tarnished, as the Astros’ 2017 championship and 2017 and 2019 pennants will forever be considered unfairly won. The present is chaos, as the game’s biggest stars have united in revolt against baseball’s establishment. The future appears lawless, as MLB has revealed itself to be a world where cheating players face no discipline—unless other players take matters into their own hands for vigilante justice. So, yeah, I get why some people might think that the Astros’ scandal has been bad for the sport.

With that said: I have never been more interested in baseball than I am right now. And I don’t think I’m alone! It’s February, and every sports fan I know is locked in on following the latest spring training developments. We are hooting and hollering every time a new baseball player goes in on the Astros. We are eager to debate which teams will bring down baseball’s newest menace. Why do you think my editor asked me, a football writer, to write about baseball? Because we can’t stop clicking on articles about baseball! You’re here, aren’t you?

Baseball is locked in a battle between good and evil—you know, that struggle that’s been the crux of virtually every movie, TV show, and book since the beginning of time. The Astros are the hunted, and MLB’s 29 other teams are the valiant squads looking to bring them down. The sport might seem like it’s self-destructing, but I have three reasons to believe that the Astros’ sign-stealing saga will instead act as a much-needed shot in the arm.

 

 

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:44 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, contrarians on parade, sign-stealing

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Fans heckling Astros spring opener get signs stolen

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Fans hoping to heckle the sign-stealing Houston Astros at their spring opener were met with quite the coincidence.

They got their signs stolen.

In the Astros’ first spring training game since their sign-stealing scandal rocked baseball, some fans brought signs jeering Houston, and ballpark personnel confiscated them before the exhibition opener against the World Series champion Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

In a Series rematch, the Nats got hearty cheers, while everyone in an Astros jersey — including the mascot, Orbit — was booed. Houston did not use any players implicated in MLB’s probe.

The sort of story for which drum riffs seem to be the only appropriate comment…..

 

QLE Posted: February 23, 2020 at 01:05 AM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, fans, hecklers, sign-stealing

Saturday, February 15, 2020

MLBPA, league discussing methods to fight electronic sign-stealing

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich report that MLB and the MLB Players Association are in discussions on new rules to combat electronic sign-stealing. The talks come in the wake of a winter dominated by the revelations that the Astros cheated by using tech to steal signs on their way to winning the 2017 World Series, and widespread speculation that the cheating continued in one way or another into the 2019 season.

Nationals ace Max Scherzer, a prominent figure within the MLBPA and Washington’s union rep, is one of the players taking a leading role in the talks. He spoke with Rosenthal in an interview on MLB Network about the players’ goals for the new rules. Scherzer made it clear that while he takes no issue with players using the video room during games to things like analyze their swings, he has a problem with the implementation of algorithms like the Astros’ Codebreaker system. The three-time Cy Young Award winner also stated that he feels that there are too many cameras on the field.

The discussion of new rules about the proper use of video is a much-needed step for a sport that has seen its credibility damaged by cheating. While the complicated nature of the issue may prevent new rules from going into place before the start of the season, the mere fact that they’re being talked about at all is a plus. Having a universally respected player like Scherzer as the public face of the initiative is also a boon.

As always, my apologies for not using the referenced and paywalled article.

 

QLE Posted: February 15, 2020 at 12:50 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: mlb, mlbpa, sign-stealing

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Red Sox Sign-Stealing Investigation Will Stretch Into Spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Major League Baseball will not have a decision in the Boston Red Sox sign-stealing investigation this week, a person with knowledge of the probe told The Associated Press, meaning the team will open spring training without knowing if it will be punished.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Tuesday because there was no formal announcement. Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week that he hoped to have the investigation wrapped before the start of spring training; Red Sox pitchers and catchers reported Tuesday and have their first workout Wednesday.

There are several ways to interpret this delay- which one would you choose?

 

QLE Posted: February 12, 2020 at 12:48 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, red sox, sign-stealing

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Details emerge about Carlos Beltrán’s role in the 2017 Astros clubhouse and the team’s sign-stealing scheme

“I was in my first year, man,” former Astros pitcher Joe Musgrove, now with the Pirates, said in a Jan. 24 interview on MLB Network. “Along with (Alex) Bregman and a lot of those guys, and in your first year in the big leagues you’re around guys like Beltrán and (Brian) McCann, some big names. And I’m not going to be the pitcher to walk up and tell ‘em to knock it off.”

Both McCann and Beltrán played for the Yankees during the 2014, ’15 and ’16 seasons before joining the Astros in ’17. But it was Beltrán who, according to multiple sources, told the Astros that their sign-stealing methods were “behind the times.”

During the season, small groups of Astros discussed their misgivings. McCann at one point approached Beltrán and asked him to stop, two members of the 2017 team said.

“He disregarded it and steamrolled everybody,” one of the team members said. “Where do you go if you’re a young, impressionable player with the Astros and this guy says, ‘We’re doing this’? What do you do?”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 11, 2020 at 05:21 PM | 82 comment(s)
  Beats: sign-stealing

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Marlins’ Mattingly bothered by sign-stealing, Jeter vote

MIAMI (AP) — Baseball’s news cycle of late has been dominated by the sign-stealing scandal that led to upheaval in Houston and Boston, as well as Derek Jeter missing out on being a unanimous selection for Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Don Mattingly was bothered by both stories.

Miami’s manager spoke out Saturday at the team’s annual FanFest, expressing dismay over how Jeter — the Marlins’ CEO — was one vote away from appearing on 100% of the ballots submitted in this year’s Hall of Fame voting, as well as the sign-stealing controversy that is could well taint Houston’s World Series win in 2017 and Boston’s title in 2018.

“You could see it kind of coming, honestly, with the technology, with the cameras, just how fast that has come to the forefront with everything you can do with replay,” Mattingly said. “You could actually see how it could ... how something could start to happen. Unfortunately, it did.”

Well, we’ve managed to find out how Mattingly has managed to keep his head when everyone around him on the Marlins was losing theirs…..

 

QLE Posted: February 09, 2020 at 01:41 AM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: derek jeter, don mattingly, hall of fame, sign-stealing

Friday, February 07, 2020

MLB may rule on Red Sox’s alleged sign stealing by start of camp

ORLANDO, Fla.—Major League Baseball intends to impose new limits on what live video is available to teams, and commissioner Rob Manfred hopes to complete his investigation into alleged electronic sign stealing by the Boston Red Sox before spring training camps open next week.

“I think you should assume that before the season starts we will have new guidelines with respect to the use of video equipment,” Manfred said Thursday after an owners meeting. “I think we have too much video available in real time right now.”

After former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers told The Athletic in November that the Astros used a video camera to steal the signs of opposing catchers in 2017 and 2018, Manfred last month suspended Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one season, fined the Astros $5 million and stripped them of their first- and second-round drafts picks in 2020 and 2021.

Hinch and Luhnow were fired the same day, and the scandal led to the departures of Boston manager Alex Cora, Houston’s bench coach during its 2017 title run, and New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, an Astros player that season.

Something to watch for in the coming days.

 

 

QLE Posted: February 07, 2020 at 12:43 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, investigations, red sox, sign-stealing

Friday, January 24, 2020

How MLB Handled Sign Stealing Before Punishing Astros

Skipping ahead to offer a sample of the interesting elements of this:

1909 Highlanders

Gene McCann, a former player, was stationed behind the centerfield fence and peered through a hole with binoculars. He would tip off the scoreboard operator, who would tip vertical the horizontal bar in the “H” in Highlanders for a fastball. One day in September a trainer from the Tigers surprised McCann during a game, overpowering him and seizing the binoculars.

1910-14 Athletics

Substitute outfielder Danny Murphy, armed with binoculars, stood next to a weathervane on a rooftop in Philadelphia. He spun the weathervane north for a curveball and south for a fastball. The system worked well, except for when a gust of wind spun the weathervane in another direction.

 

 

QLE Posted: January 24, 2020 at 01:03 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: history, sign-stealing

Scott Boras Says Astros Players Shouldn’t Apologize for Sign-Stealing Scandal

Agent Scott Boras doesn’t believe Houston Astros players have any reason to apologize for their roles in the team’s cheating scandal.

Speaking to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Boras explained it was the organization that put the players in a position to game the system for an advantage.

“I’m doing what my organization is telling me to do,” he said. “You installed this. You put this in front of us. Coaches and managers encourage you to use the information. It is not coming from the player individually. It is coming from the team. In my stadium. Installed. With authority.”

Boras also noted that Astros players “were not given the latest state of the rules” by Major League Baseball and the team pertaining to the use of technology and what constitutes a rules violation.

So, what sort of nonsense do you think you could get Scott Boras to do in exchange for 10% of your income?

 

QLE Posted: January 24, 2020 at 12:49 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, idiot, scott boras, sign-stealing

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Electronic sign stealing: A scandal two decades ago in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — If anyone thought that using technology to steal catchers’ signs had only blemished Major League Baseball and the Houston Astros — or it’s something new — think again.

Japan went through a similar scandal just over 20 years ago. The Japanese revere baseball as much as Americans and have straddled the same thin line between gamesmanship and cheating.

In a widely covered scandal in 1998, a camera in the Fukuoka Dome was discovered to be focused on the catcher. Officials of the Daiei Hawks — now the SoftBank Hawks — reportedly monitored the signs and relayed them by walkie-talkie to fans in the stands, who then used signals to batters to indicated the coming pitch.

There was no trash-can banging, as the Astros did. Instead, a fan would hold up a megaphone in front of their body to indicate, say, a fastball. Holding it to the right meant curve. On the left was, say, a change up.

A discussion of a current scandal from an international perspective.

 

QLE Posted: January 22, 2020 at 01:07 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: japanese baseball, sign-stealing, softbank hawks

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

20 Big Questions About MLB’s Sign-Stealing Scandal

A sample question-and-answer:

3) Could Manfred suspend or ban players who used cameras, buzzers and other electronic devices?

Yes. Under Article XII of the collective bargaining agreement, Manfred has the authority to take appropriate disciplinary measures against players for conduct that is “materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of Baseball.” Cheating is unquestionably damaging to the best interest of Baseball. It undermines the integrity of games and could cost the league substantial revenue if fans are turned off.

Also, no one has a legal “right” to play in a private sports league, just as no one has a right to a job at a private employer. Being kicked out of a pro league is not, in and of itself, an unlawful act by that league.

Lastly, MLB has a long history of suspending and even banning players. Bowie Kuhn banned Ferguson Jenkins after he was found with cocaine and other drugs (Jenkins was later reinstated). Bud Selig banned Steve Howe after a drug offense (Howe was also reinstated).

Lawyers of this site: How much of this analysis would you concur with?

 

QLE Posted: January 21, 2020 at 12:31 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: lawyers, sign-stealing

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Analysis: Baseball has become a prisoner of technology

NEW YORK (AP) — Technology unleashed baseball’s Analytics Era, and now it’s holding the sport prisoner.

AJ Hinch, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltrán are casualties, a triple play of hubris. At the cutting edge with the Houston Astros, now they have been cut. Their sign-stealing system exposed, all three managers were deposed within a whirlwind 72 hours this week that raised questions about the prevalence of the sport’s rule breakers.

What’s next in a game grappling with innovation and plagued by paranoia?

Video rooms and dugouts are now monitored by Major League Baseball, like proctors pacing an exam room to stifle students’ temptation to cheat. Bench and bullpen telephones are monitored, Big Brother in the commissioner’s office listening in to assure compliance. Television feeds in clubhouses were ordered to be delayed by a minimum 8 seconds last year to prevent prying eyes from decoding signals in real time.

Prisoners of Technology wasn’t a bad musical, as far as the shows of Bialystock and Bloom went….

 

QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 12:58 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: dirty rotten cheaters, sign-stealing, technology

Congress to take up MLB sign-stealing scandal? Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush hopes so

MLB’s sign-stealing scandal could be headed for Congress.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., on Friday sent a letter to senior members of the Committee on Energy & Commerce to request an oversight hearing into the cheating scandal that has enveloped MLB in recent days. The committee has oversight over major league sports, Rush’s letter states.

“I believe it is our ethical and moral imperative to investigate the Major League Baseball cheat scandal fully and to determine the extent to which this cancer has spread,” Rush writes. “I firmly believe that our investigation must also look at the actions taken by Major League Baseball, and the teams that comprise it, to reprimand the individuals who have been implicated.”

The letter goes on to say that, although MLB and teams have already taken action against guilty parties — such as Astros manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow — the committee must determine whether league officials acted quickly enough and took appropriate action. It also must determine whether there is a “systematic failure” within MLB that has allowed the illegal sign-stealing problem to fester, the letter states.

Trying to figure out what he gets out of it- his reelections seem safe, the odds are against him running for higher office, and I don’t think there are any minor-league teams being contracted anywhere near him so it doesn’t seem to be payback for that…..

 

QLE Posted: January 18, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: congress, dirty rotten cheaters, sign-stealing

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Yes, more teams than the Astros and Red Sox stole signs, but that doesn’t excuse them

There’s an element to all of this Astros and Red Sox news that keeps coming up that I want to dig in to. Indeed, it’s a thing that comes up every single time a team or a player gets in trouble for something. It’s the “hey, they weren’t the only ones doing it! They were singled out!” defense, almost always mounted by fans of the teams or players who get busted.

First, let’s be 100 percent clear about something: the Astros and the Red Sox were not — not by a long shot — the only teams stealing signs. To suggest that they were is to live in fantasyland. Tom Verducci reported the other day that the investigation of the Astros led to at least seven or eight other teams being mentioned. Last night Michael Baumann of The Ringer linked to stories over the past couple of months in which sources said they believed that the Diamondbacks, Indians, Rangers, Cubs, Blue Jays, Nationals and Brewers have engaged in sign-stealing shenanigans as well.

And hey, from the “it takes one to know one” department, let us not forget this little thing from last summer when, after the Yankees pounded the Red Sox in London, Alex Cora said that the Yankees’ biggest offseason addition was Carlos Beltrán, complete with a wink:

He follows that with “we have to clean our details,” which is an obvious reference to signs. If you think he’s not talking about the Yankees engaging in some sign-stealing, you’re deluding yourself. Which, of course, becomes the jumping off point for that “no fair, we were singled out!” sentiment so many Astros and Red Sox fans have shared in the past few days.

A consideration of a certain kind of commentary- might as well have it in mind now, as I anticipate seeing it deployed shortly…..

 

QLE Posted: January 16, 2020 at 12:21 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, red sox, sign-stealing

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

MLB sign-stealing investigation turns to Cora, Red Sox

Round two…..

BOSTON (AP) — Alex Cora could be the next World Series-winning manager sent home for stealing signs.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Red Sox skipper was “an active participant” in the sign-stealing scandal that cost Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs Monday. Cora was Houston’s bench coach when the team used electronics to illegally steal signs en route to a World Series championship in 2017.

The commissioner said Cora was among those who “originated and executed” aspects of the cheating scheme, in which the team used a center field camera to decode catchers’ signals to pitchers and banged on a trash can with a bat or massage gun near the dugout to let hitters know which pitch was coming.

Manfred is withholding discipline for Cora until concluding a separate investigation into allegations that Boston used electronics to steal signs in 2018, when the Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 regular season games and a World Series in Cora’s first season as manager.

 

QLE Posted: January 14, 2020 at 01:16 AM | 64 comment(s)
  Beats: alex cora, red sox, sign-stealing

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Sources: MLB near decision on discipline for Astros

Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ illegal use of technology is in its final stages and members of the organization expect commissioner Rob Manfred to decide on the severity of discipline within the next two weeks, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

With witnesses admitting that the Astros used a system to relay pitch types to batters before they were thrown, according to sources, MLB’s coming decisions are twofold: whom to discipline and how harshly to do so.

The targets for discipline will be employees of the team, including the front office and on-field coaching personnel, but will not include the players involved in the scheme, according to three players who have been interviewed. Those who could face discipline include Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, Astros manager AJ Hinch and other front-office members, sources said. The team also could face a record fine.

An MLB spokesman declined to comment.

Given how much sign-stealing has been on our minds today, I’m surprised we hadn’t linked to this before- something of interest to follow in the coming weeks…..

 

QLE Posted: January 08, 2020 at 12:26 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, dirty rotten cheaters, sign-stealing

 

 

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