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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Astros stole signs electronically in 2017 | The Athletic (paywall)

Early in the 2017 season, at least two uniformed Astros got together to start the process. One was a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources; another was a coach who wanted to help. They were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good.

They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.

“That’s not playing the game the right way,” said Fiers, who was with the team from 2015-17 and was non-tendered in the offseason after the Astros won the 2017 World Series. “They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win.”

Three other sources who were inside the organization in 2017 and had direct knowledge of the scheme discussed its existence on the condition of anonymity.

The article goes into detail about how the Astros did it. More broadly, it discusses the problem of teams league-wide using high tech equipment to circumvent rules, steal signs, and get more in-game information.

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: November 12, 2019 at 02:03 PM | 195 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, because of course they did, cheating

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   1. Rally Posted: November 12, 2019 at 02:33 PM (#5900604)
Hitter has to be Beltran by the lead in description. Only Astros player who could be described as struggling early in the season, and had played for another franchise.
   2. Rally Posted: November 12, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5900607)
Not to say that it was definitely Beltran. Lead in may not be 100% accurate. And I suppose it could be, say, Bregman and "benefited from sign stealing with a previous team" could refer to sign stealing at LSU.

I'll have to finally subscribe, but without reading the article I imagine what they came up with is attaching a tiny receiver inside the helmet. Then a coach could be somewhere with a better view, or even watching the broadcast (if they have a live feed instead of a several second delay). Never attempted anything like this in my years of amateur baseball, and assumed that player movement would make it a very bad idea in the long run. Which apparently is how this story came to be.

But the idea certainly has occurred to me, at least as far back as little league in 1983. Though back then I would have had a hard time finding a walkie talkie receiver small enough to fit inside a helmet.
   3. Blastin Posted: November 12, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5900608)
Astros seem like a fine, upstanding group of men one just has endless warmth towards.
   4. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:01 PM (#5900609)
I'll have to finally subscribe, but without reading the article I imagine what they came up with is attaching a tiny receiver inside the helmet. Then a coach could be somewhere with a better view, or even watching the broadcast (if they have a live feed instead of a several second delay). Never attempted anything like this in my years of amateur baseball, and assumed that player movement would make it a very bad idea in the long run. Which apparently is how this story came to be.

They setup a camera in the outfield zoomed in on the catcher and sent the feed to a monitor just inside the tunnel from the dugout. Whenever the catcher signaled for an off speed or breaking pitch they would bang on a trashcan. The hitter could hear the banging while standing at bat.
   5. ajnrules Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:04 PM (#5900611)
They setup a camera in the outfield zoomed in on the catcher and sent the feed to a monitor just inside the tunnel from the dugout. Whenever the catcher signaled for an off speed or breaking pitch they would bang on a trashcan. The hitter could hear the banging while standing at bat.

Somehow that seems like a less sophisticated setup than Morgan Murphy and the Phillies all the way back in 1898.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5900613)
VACATE THEIR TITLE
   7. Rally Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5900614)
They setup a camera in the outfield zoomed in on the catcher and sent the feed to a monitor just inside the tunnel from the dugout. Whenever the catcher signaled for an off speed or breaking pitch they would bang on a trashcan. The hitter could hear the banging while standing at bat.


That's less sophisticated than I thought. If a hitter can hear it, so can everyone else. A pitcher like Fiers might know about it since he pitched for the Astros. For other pitchers it doesn't seem like something that would take too long to figure out. "OK, sign #2, curveball. Why are they banging the trash can? Damn he crushed that pitch like he knew it was coming." How many times do they have to repeat before a pitcher decides to change things up, and upon hearing the trash can decides a fastball at the ear is better than another curve?
   8. JAHV Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5900619)
That's less sophisticated than I thought. If a hitter can hear it, so can everyone else. A pitcher like Fiers might know about it since he pitched for the Astros. For other pitchers it doesn't seem like something that would take too long to figure out. "OK, sign #2, curveball. Why are they banging the trash can? Damn he crushed that pitch like he knew it was coming." How many times do they have to repeat before a pitcher decides to change things up, and upon hearing the trash can decides a fastball at the ear is better than another curve?


The article does describe one pitcher (Danny Farquhar) who picked up on it. After hearing the banging noise on the third straight change-up he threw, he switched up the signs with the catcher and didn't hear it any longer.

The article also mentions that crowd noise might be a factor, so I'm assuming they banged it JUST loudly enough for the batter to hear.
   9. The_Ex Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5900620)
In TFA, Danny Farquhar figured it out. He and the catcher changed the signs. I imagine a lot of other teams did the same.

Players generally know when they are tipping pitches or when the hitters have an edge. I am sure many teams figured this out and then adjusted. I am surprised the league did nothing. One reason for doing nothing is that other teams were doing it too.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5900621)
How many times do they have to repeat before a pitcher decides to change things up, and upon hearing the trash can decides a fastball at the ear is better than another curve?

That seems like the obvious countermove.
   11. jmurph Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:32 PM (#5900622)
How many times do they have to repeat before a pitcher decides to change things up, and upon hearing the trash can decides a fastball at the ear is better than another curve?

This happened, noted in the article (I don't blame you, it's relatively expensive, but if you catch a 40 or 50% off sale I recommend it).

EDIT: Coke to JAHV
EDITagain: not the ear part, just the sign changing part.
   12. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5900623)
That's less sophisticated than I thought. If a hitter can hear it, so can everyone else. A pitcher like Fiers might know about it since he pitched for the Astros. For other pitchers it doesn't seem like something that would take too long to figure out. "OK, sign #2, curveball. Why are they banging the trash can? Damn he crushed that pitch like he knew it was coming." How many times do they have to repeat before a pitcher decides to change things up, and upon hearing the trash can decides a fastball at the ear is better than another curve?

According to the article, not every Astro hitter wanted the warnings so it wasn't happening the entire game. Here is a video of what the article alleges. The video should start at 2:58:30. The catcher flashes the sign for a change and then you hear the two trash can (or whatever they were hitting) bangs. Farquhar figured it out and stepped off to change the signs.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:40 PM (#5900624)
In TFA, Danny Farquhar figured it out.
Yeah, and look what happened to him shortly thereafter. Coincidence? That's what the Astros would have you believe.

   14. The Duke Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5900625)
If you find the game with farauquar pitching you can clearly hear the trash can after the sign is put down and then the pitcher steps off. Gattis is the hitter. The rumor on the Athletic is that josh reddick, not beltran, is the guy.

I’m going from memory so correct me if I am wrong : the Astros have gotten a guy sent to jail on a federal charge, screwed around with a couple of high draft picks, said terrible things about other team execs so that they had to go apologize, reportedly did not tell coaches and front office staff of employment interest from other teams, stole signs electronically and harassed female writers - that’s a lot of smoke from one team. I wonder if the mlb will find the fire in their taubman investigation

   15. Blastin Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5900626)
That seems like the obvious countermove.


How would they prove it and not get thrown out?
   16. Blastin Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:43 PM (#5900628)
I’m going from memory so correct me if I am wrong : the Astros have gotten a guy sent to jail on a federal charge, screwed around with a couple of high draft picks, said terrible things about other team execs so that they had to go apologize, reportedly did not tell coaches and front office staff of employment interest from other teams, stole signs electronically and harassed female writers - that’s a lot of smoke from one team. I wonder if the mlb will find the fire in their taubman investigation


Just a fine group of people.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:52 PM (#5900631)
The rumor on the Athletic is that josh reddick, not beltran, is the guy.
That's unpossible! Reddick is a totally clean player who always does nothing but play the right way! We know this because he told us so right after he steamrolled Jonathan LuCroy.
   18. JJ1986 Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5900635)
the Astros have gotten a guy sent to jail on a federal charge,
Really?
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 12, 2019 at 03:58 PM (#5900636)
I’m going from memory so correct me if I am wrong : the Astros have gotten a guy sent to jail on a federal charge, screwed around with a couple of high draft picks, said terrible things about other team execs so that they had to go apologize, reportedly did not tell coaches and front office staff of employment interest from other teams, stole signs electronically and harassed female writers - that’s a lot of smoke from one team. I wonder if the mlb will find the fire in their taubman investigation
You left out "refused to allow a credentialed reporter access to the locker room because Justin Verlander doesn't like him."

Also, they're the team whose name sounds closest to "a$$holes."
   20. Steve N Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:03 PM (#5900638)
This is not behind a paywall.

https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/astros-used-electronic-sign-stealing-method-during-title-winning-2017-season-report-says/

   21. The Duke Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:03 PM (#5900639)
18. Yes. They called in the FBI not the MLB.
   22. jmurph Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:05 PM (#5900641)
I continue to not really care about sign-stealing, but obviously since it's the Astros it will be fun to see them get punished.

That said, given we're talking about 2017, didn't this take place before the "no seriously this time we mean it" memo from MLB?
   23. Steve N Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:05 PM (#5900642)
https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/astros-used-electronic-sign-stealing-method-during-title-winning-2017-season-report-says/ 


Can't get the link to work. Sorry for double posting.
   24. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:13 PM (#5900643)
In "The MVP Machine," Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik talked a lot about the Astros' culture under Crane and Luhnow, both acknowledging that it's totally working and that employees within the organization are often miserable. Players seem insulated from the hijinks of the front office (except, of course, during the Robert Osuna trade), but everyone on the field already thinks the Astros are cheating to get their pitchers higher spin rates. More of the same won't surprise anyone.
   25. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:19 PM (#5900646)
The Astros are a bunch of cheating ########.
   26. Lars6788 Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:22 PM (#5900647)
#17 That was Jake Marisnick
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:26 PM (#5900649)
#17 That was Jake Marisnick
Well, if they expected me to be able to tell the individual players apart, they shouldn't all be such ########, now should they?
   28. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5900650)
in the cbssports link it says
Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers spoke on the record about Houston's sign-stealing system at Minute Maid Park, which included a TV monitor with a feed from a center field camera near the dugout steps. Astros players would try to decode their opponents' signs and then alert hitters if an off-speed pitch was coming by banging on a dugout trash can, per the report.

the syntax is horrible but it seems to be saying that there was a TV monitor "near the dugout steps". How could that not have been seen??!!
   29. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5900651)
18. Yes. They called in the FBI not the MLB.

The Astros may be deplorable, but I don't think ratting on the Cardinals for hacking into their database counts on their strike list.
   30. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5900652)
18. Yes. They called in the FBI not the MLB.


To be fair, it's not like they framed an innocent man there. He did exactly the crime that they said that he did, and they were able to prove it.
   31. jmurph Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5900653)
the syntax is horrible but it seems to be saying that there was a TV monitor "near the dugout steps". How could that not have been seen??!!

The Athletic article shows it as basically the hallway between the dugout and locker room.
   32. Walt Davis Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5900654)
Well, if they expected me to be able to tell the individual players apart

they should put names on the uniforms or something.
   33. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:41 PM (#5900655)
I’m going from memory so correct me if I am wrong : the Astros have gotten a guy sent to jail on a federal charge . . .
In that instance, they were the victims of the crimes committed by an employee of the St. Louis Cardinals. Whatever case there is against the Astros on sign-stealing is considerably weakened by attempting to make them the bad guy for being hacked by the Cardinals.
   34. JAHV Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:43 PM (#5900656)
I hate sign stealing in all forms, but this doesn't surprise me at all from the Astros. They're plummeting down (up?) my list of hated teams. And that's with Jose Altuve being my favorite non-Angel player.
   35. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:51 PM (#5900659)
the syntax is horrible but it seems to be saying that there was a TV monitor "near the dugout steps". How could that not have been seen??!!


Sounds like it was portable and deployed daily.


Sources recalled the system being discussed around the team. One day in the cafeteria, a player lamented the fact that the screen had not been set up on time. Another time, a player said they were looking forward to going back to Minute Maid Park and the benefit of the trash can.

At least once, some on the Astros were worried enough that they would be discovered that, in the middle of a game, someone in the dugout ordered the screen hauled out of the tunnel and hidden.

   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 12, 2019 at 04:55 PM (#5900660)
I'm still chuckling over the fact that "stole signs electronically" apparently means "we aimed a video camera at the catcher's crotch and banged on a trash can." That there's some es-pi-yo-NAGE, mm-hm!
   37. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: November 12, 2019 at 05:04 PM (#5900663)
The Astros may be deplorable, but I don't think ratting on the Cardinals for hacking into their database counts on their strike list.

To be fair, it's not like they framed an innocent man there. He did exactly the crime that they said that he did, and they were able to prove it.

The Duke has been blaming the Astros for that for YEARS now. I'm pretty sure he thinks because the felon suspected the Astros took info they shouldn't have the Cards were in the right here and the Astros should have been punished as much as the Cards.

Having said all that, his crazy conspiracy does make a lot more sense now, all things considered.
   38. JimMusComp likes Billy Eppler.... Posted: November 12, 2019 at 05:10 PM (#5900665)
Here’s a good take on this whole thing...

https://youtu.be/M2XNW1qHN9w
   39. . Posted: November 12, 2019 at 05:19 PM (#5900666)
In TFA, Danny Farquhar figured it out. He and the catcher changed the signs. I imagine a lot of other teams did the same.


Every time I see the name Danny Farquhar, it brings to mind Ben Affleck's "FAH Q" paddle that he used to terrorize the freshmen in Dazed and Confused. Is that bad?
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: November 12, 2019 at 05:20 PM (#5900667)

I hate sign stealing in all forms, but this doesn't surprise me at all from the Astros. They're plummeting down (up?) my list of hated teams. And that's with Jose Altuve being my favorite non-Angel player.


I'm really glad this and the Taubman stuff came out after they beat the Yankees in the ALCS. I'm incapable of rooting for the Yankees in any way, but this Astros club sure would have put that to the test.
   41. The Duke Posted: November 12, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5900669)
So what’s more likely based on what you know about the Astros now. That the Cardinals randomly hacked their database or that the Astros took all the cardinals IP when they left and didn’t change their passwords?
   42. Perry Posted: November 12, 2019 at 05:49 PM (#5900671)
Every time I see the name Danny Farquhar, it brings to mind Ben Affleck's "FAH Q" paddle that he used to terrorize the freshmen in Dazed and Confused. Is that bad?


Anything that brings to mind Dazed and Confused is good, by definition.
   43. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 12, 2019 at 05:50 PM (#5900672)
So what’s more likely based on what you know about the Astros now. That the Cardinals randomly hacked their database or that the Astros took all the cardinals IP when they left and didn’t change their passwords?
Chris Correa made that claim in desperation after getting caught hacking the Astros, but there’s NO EVIDENCE to support his claim, none at all. Neither MLB, the Feds, nor the Cardinals could find anything to support Correa’s claim. Like many criminals, he just made stuff up in an attempt to avoid responsibility for his crimes.
   44. JJ1986 Posted: November 12, 2019 at 06:01 PM (#5900673)
Breaking into someone's system isn't more okay if you know their password.
   45. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 12, 2019 at 06:26 PM (#5900675)
So what’s more likely based on what you know about the Astros now. That the Cardinals randomly hacked their database or that the Astros took all the cardinals IP when they left and didn’t change their passwords?


His claim would have been a lot more plausible if he had been able to provide any evidence whatsoever in support of it.
   46. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: November 12, 2019 at 06:31 PM (#5900676)
So this is against the unwritten rules? Or against the real rules? Can you steal signs if you are on second and hand signal to the batter, kind of sign stealing old school style?

I'm so confused....

Astros not coming off too well lately. However I very much doubt they are the only team stealing signs.
   47. The Duke Posted: November 12, 2019 at 06:53 PM (#5900680)
45. Dewitt didn’t want to pursue it. He’s part of the exec committee and what Correa did after he got access was inexcusable.

Bottom line is whatever you believe, the Astros are leaving a long trail of unethical behavior over a number of years covering a wide array of topics. I don’t think the cardinals or any other team has that issue except the Patriots

And the only defense that most people can conjure up is that everyone else is doing it. Problem is , all we ever hear about are the Astros. At some point doesn’t everyone conclude that they really are the problem?
   48. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: November 12, 2019 at 06:54 PM (#5900681)
This is against the real rules.
   49. CraigK Posted: November 12, 2019 at 07:32 PM (#5900686)
a friendly reminder that the password to the astros database was literally "eckstein123"
   50. Tin Angel Posted: November 12, 2019 at 07:44 PM (#5900687)
Pretty easy solution to this- remove all of the trash cans from dugouts.
   51. cardsfanboy Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:03 PM (#5900690)
I am surprised the league did nothing. One reason for doing nothing is that other teams were doing it too.


That seems like a silly assumption.. the reason the league did nothing is that they didn't want any negative news about a franchise... as an example, My Team, the Cardinals hacked the Astros and the league kept it quiet for quite a bit of time, it wasn't until the federal authorities got involved that they even acknowledge it...The league's primary goal is to keep the peace among the 30 rich owners and the players, they aren't going to ruffle feathers unless they have to.
   52. JJ1986 Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:06 PM (#5900692)
The Astros clearly don't respect MLB or fear any punishment from them. They admitted that they ignored the rules in the Verlander incident and nothing happened to them. They kept lying about Taubman after everyone knew the truth. And they had to know this would get out eventually but decided that cheating would be worth it.
   53. cardsfanboy Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:08 PM (#5900695)
The Duke has been blaming the Astros for that for YEARS now. I'm pretty sure he thinks because the felon suspected the Astros took info they shouldn't have the Cards were in the right here and the Astros should have been punished as much as the Cards.

Having said all that, his crazy conspiracy does make a lot more sense now, all things considered.


To be fair, the evidence does support the crazy conspiracy, long before this. But it still doesn't absolve the Cardinals of their hacking. Luhnow more than likely took trade secrets with him to the Astros that he shouldn't have, I didn't even think that was a real sticking point, it doesn't absolve, or even remotely justify Correa's actions.
   54. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:16 PM (#5900696)
the evidence does support the crazy conspiracy


And that evidence is...
   55. PreservedFish Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:20 PM (#5900698)
It is distressing how often the most successful people are just terrible.
   56. Lassus Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:26 PM (#5900701)
It's probably a given that I'm a horrible human being, but I'm having a very hard time caring about this. Be smarter. Change signs. Not everything is a big deal?

They broke rules, so punish. But the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, meh.
   57. cardsfanboy Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:33 PM (#5900707)
It's probably a given that I'm a horrible human being, but I'm having a very hard time caring about this. Be smarter. Change signs. Not everything is a big deal?

They broke rules, so punish. But the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, meh.


It is a Meh.... breaking of the rules... I agree, it's also annoying as fans or players from other teams. This is something that has been widely considered a road to not cross since the Giants did it in the 50's... it's an ethical breach, not a moral breach...but it's still an ethical breach, just because you can do something fairly easily, doesn't mean you should do it. It's like asking a guy to give you evidence against your rival, simply because you have leverage on them and can hold back benefits to them if they don't help you out... it's a clear ethical breach... it might be a meh to some, but it's wrong. It's clearly wrong.
   58. Esoteric Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:40 PM (#5900708)
It's probably a given that I'm a horrible human being, but I'm having a very hard time caring about this. Be smarter. Change signs. Not everything is a big deal?

They broke rules, so punish. But the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, meh.
I dunno, man. It's both clearly against the written rules and an ethical breach as well. (Using a spitball is against the rules, but I wouldn't consider that an ethical breach.)

Moreover, and here's where I think a lot of people are coming from even if it remains unstated by some, there really seems to be a pattern of behavior accumulating with the Astros and their front office as sleazy hedge-fund quant types unburdened by any sense of morality or the rulebook and rather proud of it. That's the Taubman scandal in a nutshell, really (not just signing a piece of garbage like Osuna as a 'depreciated asset' but then boisterously bragging about it to rub it in the face of a woman who had been outspoken on the issue of domestic violence). The Astros have a lot of very engaging, likable players. Their hometown fans have every right to root for them. But to the rest of the baseball world it's hard not to notice the corpse-stench wafting off of their manner of conducting themselves.

Also, A.J. Hinch has a heck of a lot of nerve so self-righteously denying the idea that the Astros were stealing signs a mere few weeks before he got the bomb dropped on him by one of his ex-players.
   59. PreservedFish Posted: November 12, 2019 at 08:58 PM (#5900712)
I'll have you know I purchased these garments tastefully pre-rent.
   60. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 12, 2019 at 09:09 PM (#5900713)
I'll have you know I purchased these garments tastefully pre-rent.
Paid extra for the ‘distressed’ jeans, eh?
   61. PreservedFish Posted: November 12, 2019 at 09:29 PM (#5900715)
I've got a friend that makes extra money buying used Wranglers and such at secondhand stores and selling them on ebay.
   62. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: November 12, 2019 at 10:31 PM (#5900718)
All this time, we thought Brett Gardner was just a loony bird, but it turns out he was just trying to help his teammate at the plate.
   63. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: November 12, 2019 at 10:46 PM (#5900719)
If the scheme went down as described here... there was zero chance they would not get caught. Zero. Because players and coaches change teams all the time. And even if they don't, they talk to their friends around the league. Opposing players were even figuring out parts of the scheme in real time. The whole 'not caring about getting caught' part of this suggests that everybody was doing it...
   64. The Duke Posted: November 12, 2019 at 10:54 PM (#5900720)
Once again - the everyone was doing it excuse, but almost all the issues that surface involve the Astros or former Astros personnel. If everyone else is cheating it probably is because of the Astros.
   65. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: November 12, 2019 at 11:14 PM (#5900726)
Be smarter. Change signs.


The Astros had an illegal camera in CF and an illegal monitor posted just off the dugout, and your expected response by the opposition is to "change signs"?
   66. The Duke Posted: November 12, 2019 at 11:19 PM (#5900727)
The immediate reactions from NY and LA as well as other GMs has been pretty harsh so I expect the MLB will need to react. The best way to deal with these things is the death penalty route like they did with St. Louis and Atlanta for their transgressions.
   67. shoelesjoe Posted: November 12, 2019 at 11:41 PM (#5900728)
Once again - the everyone was doing it excuse, but almost all the issues that surface involve the Astros or former Astros personnel. If everyone else is cheating it probably is because of the Astros.


The Blue Jays have been suspected of doing something similar at Rogers Centre for a while. The big take away here seems to be the willingness of former Astros to fess up, which as expected tends to make them look as bad as the team. Maybe a lot of ex-players from other organizations would have comparable stories but they’d rather not soil their own legacies.

https://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/6837424/baseball-toronto-blue-jays-suspicion-again-stealing-signs-rogers-centre




   68. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: November 12, 2019 at 11:45 PM (#5900729)
If the scheme went down as described here... there was zero chance they would not get caught. Zero. Because players and coaches change teams all the time. And even if they don't, they talk to their friends around the league. Opposing players were even figuring out parts of the scheme in real time. The whole 'not caring about getting caught' part of this suggests that everybody was doing it...

No. It suggests that the Astros think they can break the rules and that MLB won’t do anything about it.
   69. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: November 13, 2019 at 12:32 AM (#5900732)
No. It suggests that the Astros think they can break the rules and that MLB won’t do anything about it.


If they were the one rogue team doing this, why would they ever think that? They're not a cornerstone franchise like the Yankees or Dodgers. They're eminently expendable... so if they were introducing a new and uniquely destructive form of cheating and got caught, MLB should have few reservations about nuking them.
   70. Walt Davis Posted: November 13, 2019 at 12:51 AM (#5900733)
There's "this will get out" and then there's "a player will admit it to the press on the record (in a relatively short period of time)." "Everybody" knew the Jays had the guy in white ... but I'm not aware that any player/coach came forward to confirm it. We say "you know this is going to get out when players change teams" but it gets out to other players not on the record to the press.** Gregg Zaun once admitted the Jays of his day were sign stealing -- more than 7 years after the fact.

For sure MLB gives a wink and a nod by not investigating these claims too vigorously to put pressure on somebody to actually come forward. Here they've got testimony handed right to them. MLB/umpires don't vigorously investigate bats either ... but when the superballs come bouncing out onto the field, they kinda have no choice. (do they still make superballs?) Now the funny bit is that this is being investigated by MLB and the Astros ... as if nobody on the Astros noticed the illegal camera and monitor. A bit like the Saudis investigating the murder of Khashoggi (while of course being nothing like that).

Still I won't be surprised if Fiers walks back his comments to "what somebody told me, sorry, can't remember who."

** At least not that I recall.
   71. Roger Cedeno's Spleen Posted: November 13, 2019 at 01:21 AM (#5900740)
Apparently the original plan by MLB to deal with electronic spying after 2018 was similar to their plan for steroids in 2003-2004... set new safeguards and policies and tell everybody "we all know what was going on, it's time to knock it off and from now on anyone who gets caught will get hammered." But they may be cornered after this story blows up, and they may be willing to go after the Astros because of all the grief they caused with the Taubman fiasco. Having an employee go on a drunken rampage in public and then bungling the PR response is not technically a violation of MLB rules, but spying definitely is. The only thing that might stop MLB from going full Bountygate on the Astros is concern over what might happen if credible reports emerge about other teams.
   72. PreservedFish Posted: November 13, 2019 at 06:58 AM (#5900743)
On April 1st, first batter up, I'd just go to the more complex signs immediately, wouldn't you?
   73. Rally Posted: November 13, 2019 at 08:16 AM (#5900751)
What baseball should do is embrace the technology. Let pitchers and catchers communicate electronically. Don't want the catcher's pitch call being overheard by the batter, so let him wear something on his wrist with buttons for each pitch. This sends a message to the pitcher, who has a small speaker fitted in his cap.

Careful though, don't skimp on the encryption because you know the day this is implemented the Astros will be recruiting for a baseball operations intern with experience at the NSA.
   74. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: November 13, 2019 at 08:17 AM (#5900752)
Astros all of them.....cheaters
Altuve.........******* cheater - certainly no hero
Bregman....******* cheater
All cocky liars too.
Caught
Worse than Clemens (never proven)
Worse than Bonds
Should all be made to wear black sox
Their legacy
   75. Nasty Nate Posted: November 13, 2019 at 08:39 AM (#5900754)
We can all take joy that they were knocked out in each of the last 2 years by losing every single home game in their final series.
   76. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:12 AM (#5900766)
How would they prove it and not get thrown out?

Well, first time you'll get warned, second time you'll get thrown out. I'm just figuring that the Astros hitters are less willing to get hit in the head, than the opposing pitchers are to be ejected.

Edit: there is baseball "precedent" for this. Batters who "peek" at the catcher to see where he sets up get thrown at.
   77. jmurph Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:15 AM (#5900768)
What baseball should do is embrace the technology. Let pitchers and catchers communicate electronically. Don't want the catcher's pitch call being overheard by the batter, so let him wear something on his wrist with buttons for each pitch. This sends a message to the pitcher, who has a small speaker fitted in his cap.

Careful though, don't skimp on the encryption because you know the day this is implemented the Astros will be recruiting for a baseball operations intern with experience at the NSA.

In all seriousness, this is, to me, the only real reason to even outlaw "electronic" sign stealing- the ever-escalating attempts to do it and combat against it are just a waste of everyone's time and resources. The actual infraction- decoding signs that are right out there in the open!- is extremely unimportant.
   78. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:15 AM (#5900769)
Obviously, this is something the Astros could only do in their home games, yet since 2017, they've had a better record on the road than they have at home. They had a better record on the road in both 2017 and 2018, and they rather famously just finished a World Series in which they lost all their home games.

I doubt this system has helped all that much.
   79. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:22 AM (#5900770)
What baseball should do is embrace the technology. Let pitchers and catchers communicate electronically. Don't want the catcher's pitch call being overheard by the batter, so let him wear something on his wrist with buttons for each pitch. This sends a message to the pitcher, who has a small speaker fitted in his cap.

Careful though, don't skimp on the encryption because you know the day this is implemented the Astros will be recruiting for a baseball operations intern with experience at the NSA.


That seems way more complicated and expensive than just keeping the ban, and imposing penalties so harsh that no team will dare try.

Fine the Astros $10M and forfeit their 1st round pick this year, and teams will stop doing it. Second offense is $20M, forfeiting your entire draft, and the President, GM, and Manager are banned from baseball.
   80. PreservedFish Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:44 AM (#5900775)
Instituting draconian penalties for minor problems will lead to more bad than good.
   81. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 09:52 AM (#5900781)
Instituting draconian penalties for minor problems will lead to more bad than good.


Yes -- what is the rulebook penalty for stealing signs? Nothing I gather.

This is a bit different but not dramatically so. A punishment is warranted, but not ones as severe as are being batted around.
   82. The Duke Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:04 AM (#5900792)
Draconian penalties for embarrassing/illegal activity have been the MLB’s forte. You don’t see anyone screwing around with signings in Latin America anymore after the Braves got their draconian penalty. It works. And there is no better team to make an example of for cheating than the Astros who are poster children for unethical behavior.

There always been stuff going on to get an advantage like a runner on second passing on signs or keeping the field grass cut long/short or keeping the dirt really wet but the Astros have turned all the teams into the equivalent of private equity firms - doing all things legal and illegal to win. It’s not a good look for the league

Do we really want teams using complicated pitcher-Catcher signals with no one on base ?
   83. PreservedFish Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:08 AM (#5900795)
Do we really want teams using complicated pitcher-Catcher signals with no one on base ?


Would this bother you?
   84. PreservedFish Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:11 AM (#5900798)
You don’t see anyone screwing around with signings in Latin America anymore after the Braves got their draconian penalty. It works.


It does? I think it was only this summer where we were reading that almost every single team illegally signs kids as young as 12 and 13 and then hides them from the world for several years.

Link to BTF thread from June
   85. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:16 AM (#5900800)
Instituting draconian penalties for minor problems will lead to more bad than good.

What problems? Teams not being able to steal signs?
   86. PreservedFish Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:18 AM (#5900801)
Yes. That's what you were talking about penalizing, right?
   87. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5900803)
Would this bother you?
Absolutely. It's a significant pace of play issue. More time between each pitch because it takes catchers longer to deliver the multiple signs, and of course more stepoffs and stepouts.
   88. PreservedFish Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:23 AM (#5900806)
Absolutely. It's a significant pace of play issue. More time between each pitch because it takes catchers longer to deliver the multiple signs, and of course more stepoffs and stepouts.


OK, that's fair. But it wouldn't torpedo any real solution to the pace of play problems. If there were an X second pitch clock, he's still have to deliver in X seconds.

   89. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:31 AM (#5900810)
If there were an X second pitch clock, he's still have to deliver in X seconds.
If dreams were lightning, and thunder was desire, this old house woulda burned down a long time ago...
   90. The Duke Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:38 AM (#5900814)
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=M2XNW1qHN9w

Complete with AJ Hinch crying crocodile tears about teams suspecting the Astros.
   91. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:43 AM (#5900818)
It does? I think it was only this summer where we were reading that almost every single team illegally signs kids as young as 12 and 13 and then hides them from the world for several years.


I don't think that's what the Braves were punished for doing, though.
   92. villageidiom Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5900821)
This is a bit different but not dramatically so. A punishment is warranted, but not ones as severe as are being batted around.
It's not in the game-play rules, but my understanding is the MLB regulations regarding the stadium conditions are that the home team is to furnish the visiting team with the same equipment-in-kind as the home team has. For example, if the home team has a batting cage accessible from the dugout or clubhouse, the visiting team is to have a batting cage accessible from the dugout or clubhouse. It doesn't have to be as nice as the home team's stuff, but it has to be in proper working order. If the home team has 25 recliners in the clubhouse the visiting clubhouse must have at least 25 folding chairs. And so on.

Every dugout in every park has a phone that connects to the team's bullpen. I recall a few years ago there was a game in which the visiting team's phone no longer worked. The umpires then instructed the home team they would not be allowed to use their phone, as the visiting team was not provided the same accommodations. So this is something MLB will enforce, if they are aware of it.

If the Astros have set up a camera to use for the game to view the catcher's signals, then per MLB regulation that camera feed must be made available to the visiting team. If the camera feed is sent to a TV just outside the home dugout, then the visiting team shall be provided with a TV as well. Failure to do so is a violation of MLB regulations.

I support the Astros having to play the entire 2020 season without the use of in-game technology during home games. No video room; no monitors; no bullpen phone; no batting cage. Visiting teams would still be furnished with all of the above, to the extent they have it today. MLB staff will be stationed in the Astros' dugout, clubhouse, and in between, to ensure they are not gaining any benefit from prohibited stuff. Violations will result in automatic forfeit of the game(s) in question and an immediate 10-game suspension of a pitcher and a position player of the affected team's choosing. But I'm a draconian penalty kind of guy.

I don't care if a team is stealing signs. I care if the home stadium has been equipped in such a way as to make it easier for only the home team to do it.
   93. The Duke Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5900822)
Friedman quote

It’s speculation for me at this point,’’ Dodgers president Andrew Friedman said. “There was scuttlebutt about it being beyond just the things at home. I don’t know the answer. This is more for Major League Baseball than it is for me.”

Looks like there will be more to this story - I doubt Friedman says this if he doesn’t know something
   94. Blastin Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:51 AM (#5900824)
Looks like there will be more to this story - I doubt Friedman says this if he doesn’t know something


I just wonder if the Taubman story got everyone around MLB to turn their focus to how the Astros tend to conduct themselves (as an org, not players).
   95. The Duke Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:52 AM (#5900826)
Cashman’s response

“I don’t think it’s a technological question alone. It’s just conduct,” Cashman said. “You decide to play by the rules, or you don’t. And if you don’t, there’s consequences. You’re putting yourself at risk whether it’s future employment, current employment, or sanctions or what have you. It’s not a technology question as much as how you want to operate.”
   96. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5900830)
Yes. That's what you were talking about penalizing, right?

Right. But you were saying that draconian penalties "will lead to more bad than good."

What's the bad? I assume if the penalties are harsh enough, and credible, teams will stop violating the rule, and won't use technological means to steal signs. That's a good thing.

What are the bad things that might happen?
   97. The Duke Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5900835)
The good news here is that luhnow is investigating what the Astros did. I’m sure he will get to the bottom of it
   98. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5900836)

If the Astros have set up a camera to use for the game to view the catcher's signals, then per MLB regulation that camera feed must be made available to the visiting team. If the camera feed is sent to a TV just outside the home dugout, then the visiting team shall be provided with a TV as well. Failure to do so is a violation of MLB regulations.


I agree 100%.
   99. PreservedFish Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:10 AM (#5900839)
Snapper, it's just never good to have a system of punishments that is illogical or inconsistent.

What does Manfred do if a team is found to be stealing signs ... but it's really only just one player, with the aid of a janitor? Do they forfeit the 1st round pick?

What if it actually creates an incentive for teams to explore an even more effective form of cheating for which there is no established punishment?

Meanwhile, if the punishment for sign stealing is harsher than it is for other crimes that most would consider worse, then the whole system is extremely unsatisfying and people will call for the punishments for other things to be made stronger.

It's sort of like saying "let's lock up drug dealers FOREVER on their first offense, that will solve this problem." It might, work, or, it might create a perverse and seemingly arbitrary system of justice that everyone despises with terrible unintended consequences.

I remember reading this in More's Utopia: From a practical point of view, surely it’s obvious that to punish thieves and murderers in precisely the same way [death penalty] is not only absurd but also highly dangerous for the public. If a thief knows that a conviction for murder will get him into no more trouble than a conviction for theft, he’s naturally impelled to kill the person that he’d otherwise merely have robbed. It’s no worse for him if he’s caught, and it gives him a better chance of not being caught, and of concealing the crime altogether by eliminating the only witness. So in our efforts to terrorise thieves we’re actually encouraging them to murder innocent people.
   100. Blastin Posted: November 13, 2019 at 11:14 AM (#5900841)
It's sort of like saying "let's lock up drug dealers FOREVER on their first offense, that will solve this problem."



That's a pretty big stretch of an analogy, considering "fine the Astros and take a draft pick" is not personally harmful to any single human.
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