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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) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, mlbpa, sign stealing

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   1. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: February 18, 2020 at 09:37 AM (#5925055)
If he couldn’t have punished individual players, Manfred should have banned the Astros from the playoffs for two years, regardless of regular-season record. I imagine that would have satisfied the angry masses.
   2. Lassus Posted: February 18, 2020 at 09:57 AM (#5925063)
That is not reasonable. Plenty of Astros prospects, trades, and staff should not be flogged for this.
   3. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 18, 2020 at 10:09 AM (#5925066)
I'm glad we have a strong MLBPA to make sure world series cheating goes unpunished.

   4. Carl Goetz Posted: February 18, 2020 at 10:27 AM (#5925069)
My thought was, let them in the playoffs, but no home games. You get the Rays in the 1st round, that's 5 games in Tampa. Yankees in the LCS? 7 in Yankee Stadium. That would be a punishment with teeth. It would hurt the team's pocketbook and hurt the players' chances at postseason glory. And it's logical; you've proven you can't be trusted at home so you don't get the biggest games of the year played at your stadium.
   5. . Posted: February 18, 2020 at 10:39 AM (#5925070)
All they have to do is vacate the 2017 title and we can all move on. Take down the banner, give back the "piece of metal," ask that the official records of the sport don't recognize the champion. (*) Simple. Short of that, it's still going on, and frontier justice, while not necessarily "justifiable," is certainly "understandable."

Piling on with the tattoo lie just goes to make frontier justice even more understandable.

(*) Or Manfred can grow a pair and do it himself, but that seems ... unlikely.
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 18, 2020 at 11:17 AM (#5925081)
Cross-posting from the other thread, and adding to it:

The position that for the commissioner to be able to punish any player for cheating, MLB would either (a) have first had to anticipate the exact way(s) in which that cheating would occur, and then have negotiated into the CBA in advance a specific, express punishment for exactly that type of cheating; or (b) have to wait for a particular type of cheating to occur, then expressly warn players about a particular punishment for that type of cheating if they continue to do it, but never punish the first round of cheaters, is beyond absurd.

It may well end up being the union's position, but it's beyond absurd.
   7. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: February 18, 2020 at 11:40 AM (#5925091)
You get the Rays in the 1st round, that's 5 games in Tampa.
Or let the Rays ownership's dreams come true and make it three games in St Pete and two in Montreal.
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 18, 2020 at 11:44 AM (#5925092)

The position that for the commissioner to be able to punish any player for cheating, MLB would either (a) have first had to anticipate the exact way(s) in which that cheating would occur, and then have negotiated into the CBA in advance a specific, express punishment for exactly that type of cheating; or (b) have to wait for a particular type of cheating to occur, then expressly warn players about a particular punishment for that type of cheating if they continue to do it, but never punish the first round of cheaters, is beyond absurd.

The first round of cheaters who got caught were the Yankees and Red Sox with the Apple watches. After that, Manfred supposedly said he was going to hold the manager and GM accountable for electronic sign-stealing. So the Astros were not the first.

For what it's worth, it seems like MLB and MLBPA often agree to things outside of a regular CBA negotiation cycle. This is what happened with the original PED testing program in 2006, and certain revisions to the program since then.
   9. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 18, 2020 at 03:04 PM (#5925155)
The Astros were fined the maximum amount allowable (which should be doubled or tripled, IMHO), and lost their 1st & 2nd round draft picks for two years. Those are the stiffest penalties MLB has given a team, AFAIK. Disciplining players was a losing proposition because the Houston management never distributed the 2017 & 2018 MLB guidance reiterating that in-game video use was prohibited and management officials were active participants in the sign-stealing scheme. Is there any other unionized workplace where folks think you could discipline rank and file workers under those circumstances?
   10. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: February 18, 2020 at 03:14 PM (#5925158)
The Astros were fined the maximum amount allowable (which should be doubled or tripled, IMHO), and lost their 1st & 2nd round draft picks for two years. Those are the stiffest penalties MLB has given a team, AFAIK. Disciplining players was a losing proposition because the Houston management never distributed the 2017 & 2018 MLB guidance reiterating that in-game video use was prohibited and management officials were active participants in the sign-stealing scheme. Is there any other unionized workplace where folks think you could discipline rank and file workers under those circumstances?

I don't think it is quite right to say that the Astros were fined the maximum amount allowable. Lumping all of the Astros bad behavior into a single $5M penalty seems like a gift that Crane didn't deserve. Certainly the Taubman incident could have been a separate $5M fine. There is an argument that each of 2017 Astros home games was a separate cheating incident and subject to a $5M fine.
   11. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 18, 2020 at 05:58 PM (#5925203)
Hell, you could argue that each stolen sign was a separate cheating incident and thereby impose a fine that Crane couldn't possibly have paid witbout selling the team.
   12. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: February 18, 2020 at 06:09 PM (#5925207)
Part of Crane's thought process about punishment had to be "what happens if I have to do this to 4 more teams?"
He probably has no idea how many landmines are still buried out there, but he knows that throwing around existential punishments will turn those landmines into atom bombs.
   13. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: February 18, 2020 at 06:53 PM (#5925214)
And of course "Crane' should be 'Manfred' above.
   14. homerwannabee Posted: February 18, 2020 at 07:23 PM (#5925223)
I'm interested in what this forum thinks. Which is worse Pete Rose gambling on baseball, or the Houston Astros cheating scandal? I know the forum decided gambling on baseball was worse than PED use, but I do wonder about this situation since people seemed really really outraged.
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 18, 2020 at 07:41 PM (#5925227)
There is an argument that each of 2017 Astros home games was a separate cheating incident and subject to a $5M fine.
Hell, you could argue that each stolen sign was a separate cheating incident and thereby impose a fine that Crane couldn't possibly have paid witbout selling the team.
I don’t believe either method is consistent with MLB’s past practice. Manfred can’t just make stuff up and say Crane is now subject to an $810M fine (or more).
   16. Ron J Posted: February 19, 2020 at 08:15 AM (#5925280)
#15 Not quite true. As long as he retains the backing of owners as a group Manfred's power over ownership is plenary.

Mind you, that "as long …" is doing a lot of work here. I think he'd have to clearly show that Crane was an active participant to expect that backing if he went substantially farther than he did.
   17. Ron J Posted: February 19, 2020 at 08:37 AM (#5925283)
#14 Tricky question.

Unusual for the participants here, I'm willing to stipulate that the Rose situation in itself did no real harm to MLB. Thing is that MLB would be exceedingly unwise to set the standard at proving harm -- that can be really tough to demonstrate and might not manifest for some time. Gambling has the potential to do tremendous damage (as has been shown in other sports) and it's in MLB's interests to do all it can to keep the bar where it is.

The Astros situation is in itself unlikely to do tremendous damage to MLB as a whole. Yes, it's outraged fans and called into question the … validity(?) of a World Series title. But at least it's in the "going too far to win" direction. Far less damaging to the institution.

All that to say to my mind it's: WS fixing > random game fixing > point shaving (not really applicable to MLB, but there are other forms of prop bets that can come into play -- as happened in cricket for instance) > player gambling (in general) > systemic cheating to win > worse than other intentional rules violations by a player seeking advantage (ie spitballs).

And I've argued two separate things:

That the gambling rules don't actually need to be as severe as they currently are (defenders of the status quo though can point to MLB versus some other sports)

And that it would set a bad precedent to change the rules in response to Rose. I've mentioned I like Bud Selig's response to an earlier request by Rose for reinstatement. In effect, he's banned because he agreed to be banned. What reason does MLB have to change the agreement?
   18. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 19, 2020 at 09:14 AM (#5925294)
Which is worse Pete Rose gambling on baseball, or the Houston Astros cheating scandal?


Potentially cheating to lose, as with the Rose thing, is always worse than cheating to win. They're both super-scummy, though.
   19. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 19, 2020 at 10:33 AM (#5925313)
Some of their union leadership need to educate its body a little better on union/contract protections.


What exactly is the union's legal responsibility here?

Because it sure SOUNDS like a LOT - like, a "vast majority" LOT - of MLBPA members are furious at the Astros players and think they should be punished somehow. Which makes sense because the victims of players cheating in baseball games are other players. Some of their concern is overwrought (the number of MLB roster spots is fixed, so it's kind of impossible for the Astros to have caused a net loss of jobs) and some of their suggested punishments are crude and inappropriate (Nick Markakis suggested that everybody on the Astros deserved "a beating"). But the general sense that the Astros players should be punished seems like a reasonable reaction that it seems like, if put to a vote of current MLBPA membership, I'd think it's pretty likely the majority would support some punishment.

So, genuine question. What is the union's legal responsibility here? If its membership says, "these members should be punished for doing this specific thing", why would the union be obligated - either legally or ethically - to object. I get that the union is obligated to protect its players. But why is it obligated, in this case, to take Jose Altuve's side over that of Aaron Judge?
   20. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 19, 2020 at 10:34 AM (#5925314)
Which is worse Pete Rose gambling on baseball, or the Houston Astros cheating scandal?


One was a random POS betting on games. True he was a manager during some of it, and looked pretty dang bad.

The other was a vast conspiracy involving the players, coaches, and front office of a team running an extensive cheating operation over multiple seasons and multiple playoff rounds including the World Series.

I think the Astros was way way way worse.

   21. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 19, 2020 at 10:46 AM (#5925318)
So, genuine question. What is the union's legal responsibility here? If its membership says, "these members should be punished for doing this specific thing", why would the union be obligated - either legally or ethically - to object. I get that the union is obligated to protect its players. But why is it obligated, in this case, to take Jose Altuve's side over that of Aaron Judge?

What would the union taking Aaron Judge's side look like? What disciplinary powers does the MLBPA have? The commissioner (who represents the owners) already granted immunity to the players.
   22. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: February 19, 2020 at 11:03 AM (#5925330)
So, real question here. At what point do the people who want these big punishments consider the Astros fans? What exactly did they do? No home playoff games? No Playoffs at all? MLB has to walk a line here too, the fans are always going to be hurt, but you don't want them turning off the TV or not buying tickets, that's bad for everyone. Admittedly there's a line, you need the sport to appear fair, but you also can't tell the fans of an entire franchise that they shouldn't bother watching for 2 years.
   23. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 19, 2020 at 11:04 AM (#5925332)
What would the union taking Aaron Judge's side look like? What disciplinary powers does the MLBPA have? The commissioner (who represents the owners) already granted immunity to the players.


To be honest, I'm not sure. I certainly understand the ethical problem with going back on an immunity agreement. I've just seen a lot of talk about how Manfred couldn't discipline the players because he didn't want to fight the union and maybe it was just a case of him reading likely player reaction wrong. But this isn't an owner-vs-player situation where it's obvious whose side the union is supposed to take. Same with steroids, honestly; the owners didn't do anything about steroids back in the day because there was no downside to the owners about having their players taking steroids - until it started pissing off fans and got Congress's attention.

How about this hypothetical: Incontrovertible evidence comes to light that Jose Altuve was wearing a buzzer that told him what pitch Aroldis Chapman was about to throw for the last pitch of the 2019 ALCS. Manfred bans Altuve for life. Is the MLBPA obligated - either legally or ethically - to object to that?
   24. Ron J Posted: February 19, 2020 at 11:15 AM (#5925337)
#19 Marvin Miller tried very hard to change minds if he thought a proposal was a bad idea. And would try to negotiate the best possible deal if he was not successful in changing minds.

I'm comfortable in saying that they should bring up specific problems they see. Mostly potential for edge cases.
   25. Ron J Posted: February 19, 2020 at 11:23 AM (#5925345)
#23 Absolutely they are obliged to object to an attempt to unilaterally change anything to do with anything specifically covered in the CBA (and arbitration rulings). There is an extensive section in the CBA on the limits of player discipline as well many arbitration rulings.

If membership wanted to give MLB additional disciplinary powers (presumably for organized cheating shcemes) it would be malpractice not to nail that down as tightly as possible.
   26. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 19, 2020 at 11:23 AM (#5925346)
How about this hypothetical: Incontrovertible evidence comes to light that Jose Altuve was wearing a buzzer that told him what pitch Aroldis Chapman was about to throw for the last pitch of the 2019 ALCS. Manfred bans Altuve for life. Is the MLBPA obligated - either legally or ethically - to object to that?

IANALaborL but I feel pretty confident they would be obligated to enforce the CBA on behalf of a member, yeah.
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 19, 2020 at 11:48 AM (#5925371)
If membership wanted to give MLB additional disciplinary powers (presumably for organized cheating shcemes) it would be malpractice not to nail that down as tightly as possible.
So, pretty much the position I posted in #6?
   28. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 19, 2020 at 12:41 PM (#5925384)
So, pretty much the position I posted in #6?

In more practical terms they could make the powers broader and give enforcement powers to someone(s) who are not directly appointed by the owners with no say from the union.

Even if the players want to elminate this behavior there's reason to be cautious in just letting Manfred do as he pleases. While he has the power to enact certain punishments on the teams, the owners have actual recourse against him (note that Crane wasn't implicated by Manfred but there appear to be unanswered questions as to his knowledge/involvement). And note that Manfred's powers of punishment against ownership/management are also limited by agreement (e.g. the fine cap was fixed at $5 million).

If the MLBPA gave carte blanche to the commissioner on this one, would the Astros have been fined? Would Lunhow or Hinch been punished? Or would the commissioner just take it out on the players since that's where his incentives lie?
   29. Chip Posted: February 19, 2020 at 06:56 PM (#5925459)
The other was a vast conspiracy involving the players, coaches, and front office of a team running an extensive cheating operation over multiple seasons and multiple playoff rounds including the World Series.

I think the Astros was way way way worse.


And yet this kind of behavior has happened repeatedly going back decades. Using technology to steal signs, with players signaling live what was coming? Say hello to the ‘51 “Shot Heard Round the World” Giants.

“Every team with a scoreboard in center field has a spy inside at one time or another.” — Rogers Hornsby, 1962.



Baseball’s cheating history includes its most famous home run
   30. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 19, 2020 at 07:43 PM (#5925467)
#15 Not quite true. As long as he retains the backing of owners as a group Manfred's power over ownership is plenary.
Selig & a majority of the owners approved his 1992 realignment plan, but the Cubs sued and won. It’s not all that clear that the Commissioner’s ‘plenary power’ can run roughshod over individual owners, especially when there is an express limit on team fines. Expecting a court to interpret that limitation to be meaningless seems at odds with most rules of interpretation.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: February 20, 2020 at 12:02 AM (#5925488)
Re posts #23-#26 and others ... and not even remotely a labor lawyer but ...

I think it's interesting to contrast MLB's PEDs policies to the domestic violence policy. Even leaving aside the period when the MLBPA wasn't interested in having a PEDs policy, even when that became inevitable, it's a very detailed policy, there's an appeal panel, there are different penalties for "roids" vs stimulants, they made sure recreational drugs didn't draw a penalty, etc.

With domestic violence, whether for the political/PR reasons of not wanting to have to defend abusers and/or the desire of the membership, the MLBPA pretty much stayed out of it and allows Manfred to decide on guilt and punishment. I assume there must be some sort of appeals process but they would probably prefer no player ever uses it.

So clearly they have fairly wide latitude as to how hard they negotiate a policy. Here I can imagine all sorts of slippery slopes, especially if it's a generic "cheating" policy, and next thing you know a bat corker is getting a 50-game suspension. The MLBPA will need to put a fairly detailed, torturous process in place.

This policy would seem to be a nightmare to write and enforce -- how do you future-proof a "no use of technology" policy when technology is changing so rapidly and how do you enforce when the fan interaction with the game is becoming more stat, etc. oriented? Surely we can't be far from "Verlander throws a 4-seamer 72% of the time with a man on first and a 0-1 count on a LHB" popping up on the screen (you already see run expectancies) so if we have it in real time, it's going to be hard/impossible to keep it out of the players' hands. Doesn't mean you shouldn't try of course.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 20, 2020 at 12:23 AM (#5925489)
Here I can imagine all sorts of slippery slopes, especially if it's a generic "cheating" policy, and next thing you know a bat corker is getting a 50-game suspension.
Come on, Walt, that’s a bad argument even as ‘slippery slope’ arguments go. There is a ton of direct precedent for bat corker suspensions, and 50 games wouldn’t be close to plausible as something that a commissioner would even try, let alone that would be held up. A team and its players getting caught engaging in a systematic program of cheating is another matter entirely.
   33. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 20, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5925542)
A team and its players getting caught engaging in a systematic program of cheating is another matter entirely.


I'm honestly not sure where I come down here and my question in #19 was a legitimate "I don't know the answer to this and would like to" question. But one issue is that this isn't the first time that a "team and its players [were] caught engaging in a systematic program of cheating". Or, perhaps "caught" isn't exactly right. But Bill James wrote about a case of this sort of thing from the 19th century. The 1951 Giants supposedly did something with binoculars and lights in their scoreboard. I read recently a story about a guy who refused to play for Bill Veeck's White Sox because he didn't condone their cheating. And so far, through baseball history, the "direct precedent" for how to punish "a systematic program of cheating" involving electronic sign stealing is "not at all".

I think this is what's creating a lot of the disconnect between the "no big deal" and "ban them for life" viewpoints. The latter are mostly viewing this as something brand new; the former see this as a natural continuation of what's been going on throughout baseball history - and, to again draw the obvious parallel to PEDs; there was a lot of the same disconnect there - "folks used amphetamines throughout the 1960s; Pud Galvin injected himself with pig hormone or some other weird #### in the 19th century" vs. "but steroids are uniquely and dangerously different from those earlier things". I appreciate the history, but part of me is more like "well, okay, we can go ahead and vacate the 1951 NL pennant while we're at it"; poor Dodgers getting screwed for more than half a century.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 20, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5925554)
But one issue is that this isn't the first time that a "team and its players [were] caught engaging in a systematic program of cheating". Or, perhaps "caught" isn't exactly right. But Bill James wrote about a case of this sort of thing from the 19th century. The 1951 Giants supposedly did something with binoculars and lights in their scoreboard. I read recently a story about a guy who refused to play for Bill Veeck's White Sox because he didn't condone their cheating. And so far, through baseball history, the "direct precedent" for how to punish "a systematic program of cheating" involving electronic sign stealing is "not at all".
I'm not sure how much stock I put in these old stories. The vast majority of old baseball stories are either totally made up or greatly exaggerated. The one with the, like, 1900 Phillies and the third-base standing with his foot in a puddle of water because there was a buzzer and a line hooked up to center field strikes me as particularly unlikely.

But regardless, even if they are (more or less) true, I do think this is something entirely different. As a practical matter, trying to steal signs by having a guy with binoculars in the scoreboard manipulating lights is going to be orders of magnitude less accurate than what the Astros were doing, or other ways of using technology in 2020. Can the guy with the binoculars really see the signs? Can he make the light signal fast enough (back when pitchers didn't hold the ball for 30 seconds)? Etc. etc.

This isn't a "they tried to cheat but they didn't succeed, so it's OK" argument like the Astros players have tried to make about the World Series - it's that that type of cheating was a much smaller concern for the league as a whole back then, because it inherently didn't confer nearly as much of an advantage. And back then it didn't have the externality of teams going to more and more complicated signs and increasing the already significant pace of play problem. So, the need for punishment as a deterrent was a lot less.
   35. Walt Davis Posted: February 21, 2020 at 02:05 AM (#5925786)
Huh, I think guy in the scoreboard with binocs and a light switch next to him is way easier and more timely to implement than what the Astros did. Where the Astros "innovated" was more in cracking the code on the complicated series of signs. But the standard 1=fastball, 2=curve has been around forever. I could see the signs on WGN broadcasts when I was a kid.

On slippery slopes -- sure, that's hyperbole. But lines get drawn somewhere and the punishment next time keeps going up. Recall the suspension for a positive PEDs test was originally 10 games, it quickly went up to 50, then 80, then 80 plus no postseason (and no "honors" like batting titles). The DV policy has only been in place for 4 seasons and suspensions have ranged from 15 to 100 games. (Note I am willing to stipulate that this range is appropriate given the particulars of each incident rather than having posters trot out the most vile incidents ... but I didn't recall Jose Reyes for 51 games at all).

On precedent for spitballing or bat-corking -- I can't remember the last scuffing/spitballing suspension and I'm not aware of any bat-tampering suspensions since Sosa (and I'm not sure there were any between Brett's over-ruled pine tar and Sosa). Sosa was nearly 17 years ago now, it's not much of a precedent. But sure, I strongly suspect that minor individual player cheating will remain relatively lightly punished. (On ball tampering, Niekro was 1987; apparently Kevin Gross suspended that same year; not sure there have been any since. I recall somebody getting searched a few years ago in the "resin and sun screen" age.)

But basically, if Altuve deserves a major suspension for engaging in a team-sponsored systemic cheating scheme, why should he receive a shorter suspension for cheating on his own? You want the signal so you can hit the ball better, same rationale for using a corked bat. What if there are rumors that many Astros are using corked bats but only Jose's breaks and provides the evidence? Don't we want to deter other potential cheaters? And since that would be the second time Jose cheated, don't we want to make him pay a steeper price (Palmeiro and roid suspension)? That's the standard logic applied in these situations.

If Altuve the individual cheats on his own, there's no need for a team penalty but his motivation (hit better) is the same and he was solely responsible for the illegal act and it's pretty much impossible to argue that he wasn't aware of the rule. (And for all we'd know, he could have been corking his bat for years.) If Altuve is involved in a team-wide cheating effort, then there is a need for a team penalty but Altuve's personal culpability is probably reduced -- certainly at a minimum he could argue peer pressure, following orders, never receiving the memo, etc. So if he deserves, say, 50 games this time, seems to me he would deserve at least as much or more in the individual scenario. If instead folks are arguing Sosa got 6 games for corking so no individual Astros player really deserves more than 5-10 then that would be consistent -- but I don't think it would satisfy the bloodthirsty crowd.

(Note, if Altuve was the ringleader of a team-wide effort, which he might have been, then his culpability would be equal in the two scenarios or greater if you wanted to punish him a bit extra for corrupting others.)
   36. Buck Coats Posted: February 21, 2020 at 07:28 AM (#5925796)
Pineda got 10 games for the pine tar thing in 2014. Albert Belle got 7 for a corked bat in 1994.
   37. Ron J Posted: February 21, 2020 at 08:18 AM (#5925799)
#35 There is a precedent on the books for heavier penalties for a ringleader (sustained in arbitration). Goes back to the Royals drug case.

This has the potential to matter.
   38. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 21, 2020 at 09:40 AM (#5925817)

I think this is what's creating a lot of the disconnect between the "no big deal" and "ban them for life" viewpoints. The latter are mostly viewing this as something brand new; the former see this as a natural continuation of what's been going on throughout baseball history - and, to again draw the obvious parallel to PEDs; there was a lot of the same disconnect there - "folks used amphetamines throughout the 1960s; Pud Galvin injected himself with pig hormone or some other weird #### in the 19th century" vs. "but steroids are uniquely and dangerously different from those earlier things". I appreciate the history, but part of me is more like "well, okay, we can go ahead and vacate the 1951 NL pennant while we're at it"; poor Dodgers getting screwed for more than half a century.


The first memo forbidding teams from using mechanical methods to steal signs was in 1961. The first one declaring electronic communication methods to be forbidden was in 2001.

Stealing signs has never been against the rules and isn't now.

I think you're right that it's creating the disconnect. Some people don't understand or accept what distinguishes the Astros from the regular old runner on second base trying to signal to the batter. Or they point to any accusation of sign-stealing or countermeasures as evidence that "everybody" is doing what the Astros did. The fact is there was a bright line rule which was flagrantly violated immediately on the heels of a specific warning from the commissioner.

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