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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Closed

So at least one bit of relatively good news involving the local nine.  The MLB report on the sign stealing investigation has generally cleared the club with the heat coming down on replay coach (or whatever he’s called) JT Watkins.  The Sox by and large escape punishment with only a second round pick in 2020 being forfeited.  Watkins himself is suspended for the 2020 season and also cannot act as replay liaison for the 2021 season (really, what do they call the replay guy?).  Alex Cora is also officially suspended for the 2020 season but the report specifies that this is for his activities with the Astros.

I have to wonder if the termination of Dombrowski and separation from Cora wound up getting those guys off the hook a bit.  According to The Athletic report;

It was in 2017 that Manfred publicly said he would hold the general manager and manager responsible for any future sign-stealing misconduct. He restated that position Jan. 13 in his report announcing his discipline of the Astros for illegal sign stealing.

“Many players told my investigators that they were unaware that in-game sign decoding from the replay station had been prohibited in 2018 and 2019,” the report says.

It seems to me that had Dombrowski and/or Cora still been employed they may have faced discipline.  That latter quote saying the players were unaware of the prohibition on in-game sign stealing seems to point to the organization not notifying them appropriately in violation of Manfred’s ruling into the Apple Watch nonsense.

Regardless of where you come down on sign stealing (I couldn’t care less) it is good that this has been completed.  The Sox can now move forward without the uncertainty of what is to come and prepare for whatever form the draft will take with the focus on that issue.

Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 22, 2020 at 03:06 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: April 23, 2020 at 10:03 AM (#5943373)
There's a fine line in here that I want to look at. Before I start, let me say Watkins crossed that line and deserves punishment; and that the Red Sox put Watkins in position to cross that line and also deserve punishment. Much of what I'm about to say will sound like I'm trying to exonerate them, so I want to be clear that I'm not.

It boils down to this: Is it illegal to use in-game replay to decode signs during the game, if that information is not used during the game?

Watkins' job was to use video replay to decode opponents' signs. He provided a report before the game, and walked the team through the signs the opponent would use, by pitcher and catcher. That was his job, and that's all legal. It was also his job to update the information after the game if anything happened during the game to indicate the pre-game report was not up to date. Again, it's legal, and it's his job.

If during the game he went home, watched the game live on NESN from his couch, and made notes as he went along about changes to the signs... that's legal, right? The team isn't gaining an advantage in that game from the new information; they're gaining an advantage for future games, but it's legal to use video from one game to gain an competitive advantage in future games. All that's happening here is a time-shifting of work he is supposed to do anyway: update his reports for tomorrow based on what happened today.

Now, instead of being at home, let's say he's in a conference room in the front office. He still doesn't share the info during the game. Is that legal? I'd think so. The rule isn't just about when and where and how you capture the information, but when you use it. You can gather game info electronically and use that info; you just can't use it during the same game.

Now instead of being in a front office conference room, let's say he's in the video room near the dugout. He's watching video from the game; he's making notes about changes to the signs; but he's still not sharing it. Is that legal? I think the answer is (a) yes and (b) obviously now he's in a position where it's very difficult to picture him not sharing it. Like, even if he's not actively sharing the info with the players or staff during the game, he and his notes are relatively easy to access by the players. The commissioner's report stated that players observed him making notes on signs from the video replay station. And they knew that the responsibility for decoding signs was his job.

And I guess that's my point. If it's legal to gather the info electronically during the game for use in future games, then there's a scenario where Watkins is doing his job, legally, but is so damn close to doing it illegally. That's the fine line. Which the team put him next to. And he crossed.
   2. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: April 23, 2020 at 12:53 PM (#5943460)
From the other thread:

In March 2018, however, my office clarified in a memorandum sent to all Clubs by then-Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre that “electronic equipment, including game feeds in the Club replay room and/or video room, may never be used during a game for the purpose of stealing the opposing team’s signs.


Am I missing something, or isn't the most obvious interpretation of that statement that no, you can't use tech to decode signs while a game is going on, period. Full stop. (You've still "stolen" the sign even if you don't use it until later, after all.) It doesn't say "...for the purpose of stealing the opposing team’s signs **and using them during that game**."
   3. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 23, 2020 at 01:39 PM (#5943495)
See my read of what Benji shared (and other stuff I've seen on the topic) is that you can use electronic equipment to steal signs but you can't do anything real time (this was the big issue with the Apple Watch stuff). I assume the theory is you can't really stop it post game, if a guy is watching a replay and sees something is he supposed to just pretend he didn't see it? I think it's not realistic to expect some level of electronic use postgame.

I just keep coming back to taking the screens out of the clubhouse/dugouts/bullpens. It's a simple fix.
   4. Jay Seaver Posted: April 23, 2020 at 01:53 PM (#5943506)
It really does seem like the obvious solution - you either can have screens available and not play cute with what is and isn't allowed, or don't, and the decision to use replay is either made on the field or by a fifth ump in a booth. Trying to draw the line any other way is just asking for abuse and rule-breaking, even if it's hypothetically unintentional (like, if J.D. Martinez goes back in the clubhouse to look at video of his swing and sees something from the pitcher).
   5. villageidiom Posted: April 23, 2020 at 02:39 PM (#5943531)
Am I missing something, or isn't the most obvious interpretation of that statement that no, you can't use tech to decode signs while a game is going on, period. Full stop.
The plainest interpretation would be to take out the "including..." part. Electronic equipment may never be used during a game for the purpose of stealing the opposing team’s signs.

By that standard, use of electronic equipment during the game to record video that is not accessed until after the game, to steal the opposing team's signs, is illegal. They used electronic equipment (a camera and recording equipment) during a game, for that purpose. By the plain standard straight from the text, it's illegal.

However, in the commissioner's report he stated that that practice is not just legal, but commonplace. And nobody in the history of MLB has interpreted the rule to mean you can't use electronic equipment during the game to capture info to be used after the game.

In this case, it comes down to how we define "used". If the information is reviewed, analyzed, shared with the team, and they change their tactics, all within the same game, clearly they've used it. But where in that chain of action should it be considered not "used"?

If it's reviewed, analyzed, and shared with the team, but they do nothing with it... I think that's still use. Actually, I'd say it's not necessarily use, but for the sake of the rule it's indistinguishable from use, and for the sake of enforcing the rule I'd consider it tantamount to use during the game.

If it's reviewed - for example, someone watches the video - but does not analyze it for signs (nor for changes to signs), then that's not "used" as far as this rule applies. General viewing of in-game video is, on its own, neither attempting nor achieving the purpose of stealing signs.

So it's really whether reviewing and analyzing signs during the game, but not sharing it until after, is to be considered "used". Clearly it's being used to steal signs, but for future games. Per the commissioner that concept is legal and commonplace. To me, the obvious interpretation is that they're not to be analyzed during the game to steal the opposing team's signs for use in that same game. But similar to my argument on sharing the info but not changing tactics with it, I can see an argument that analyzing it during the game should be assumed, for the sake of rule enforcement, as having an intent of using it during the game. This is what I tried to consider in my earlier post (e.g. decoding at home watching the game on TV vs. decoding in the video room). And as I indicated earlier, placing the guy responsible for decoding signs in the video room near the dugout would seem to convey intent as well, because he was so close to the fine line that you'd have to assume he would cross it.
   6. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: April 24, 2020 at 05:52 AM (#5943778)
Book closed? Holy s**t not at all. Talk about over-analysis and fine lines? It depends on what the meaning of is is? The fact is that their patsy, Lee Harvey Watkins, analyzed the video during games and shared information with PLAYERS in the same games who used the info illegally to cheat which resulted in them winning games including the WS. Tainted. Forever. Period. The championship should be voided. Then "book closed" might be used reasonably.
   7. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 24, 2020 at 06:57 AM (#5943781)
Actually during the post season MLB had someone sitting with the replay operators of all the teams so it was impossible for that kind of thing to be be happening.
   8. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: April 24, 2020 at 08:05 AM (#5943794)
MLB personnel there made it more difficult but not definitely not impossible to cheat. Of course they found a way. Why would they have stopped a successful cheating conspiracy? Cheaters cheat, liars lie; we all know that.
   9. jmurph Posted: April 24, 2020 at 09:02 AM (#5943817)
Is this YR, or what? This is some deeply stupid posting.
   10. villageidiom Posted: April 24, 2020 at 09:14 AM (#5943822)
Talk about over-analysis and fine lines?
I mean, there's a separate conversation going on here.
The championship should be voided.
So you're saying Boston should have been punished far, far worse than the Astros were, because...? Like, Boston's approach to this might have impacted as many as 300 PAs in the season. The Astros' approach - evidence of which suggests it was far broader in scope, personnel, and opportunity for impact - might have impacted ten times that. You're making no sense.
Cheaters cheat, liars lie; we all know that.
If liars lie, and if "Their postseason runners in scoring position stats virtually prove the incidents weren't 'isolated' to the regular season" is clearly a lie, what would you call the person who said it? Because it sounds like you'd say we should call him a liar. Y'know what? I'll take your advice and call him a liar. Because he is. Liars lie.
   11. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: April 24, 2020 at 09:34 AM (#5943829)
Again, no cheating here. https://www.mlb.com/news/red-sox-delivering-with-two-outs-risp-c299640296 Just unprecedented skills. Unprecedented.
   12. jmurph Posted: April 24, 2020 at 10:07 AM (#5943839)
I just like the idea that MuttsIdolCochrane knows more about access to the video room than Manfred does.
   13. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 24, 2020 at 10:28 AM (#5943854)
Can I just say how wonderful it is that Yankee fans are so obsessed with the Sox. This really has been a wonderful century.
   14. jmurph Posted: April 24, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5943863)
Mutts while you're here, what's the inside word on MLB's plans for reopening? Is the Texas plan legit, or what?
   15. Darren Posted: April 27, 2020 at 10:48 AM (#5944908)
I don't understand the argument. The book is closed. It's over, whether we like the results or not.
   16. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: April 27, 2020 at 12:22 PM (#5944957)
15 - Yup. That’s the point. It’s why I’m not engaging him. Just another grumpy Yankee fan.

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