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RedRamage

Astro's stealing signs?

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https://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/mlb/tigers/2019/11/13/ex-tiger-mike-fiers-astros-used-camera-steal-signs-during-championship-season/2585212001/

The short version is this: Camera in CF pointed at catcher, TV was in hallway near Astro's dugout.  When an off-speed pitch was indicated someone would bang a trashcan to signal the Astro Batter.

Mike Fiers, who pitched for the Astros in '17, when this was supposedly going on, is saying it did happen.  MLB investigating.

For the record, I have no problem stealing signs by the players and/or coaching who are on the field or in the dugout not using any technology.  I have no problem with a team trying to figure out what a first or third baseman are signaling to runners/batters.  I have no problem with a runner on base trying to signal to a batter.  As long as it's happening on the field by the people in the game, it should be legal imho.

But using technology like cameras and relay from people not in the game is wrong (again imho) because it's uneven.  The Astros, if they did indeed do this, obviously weren't sharing this video feed with the opposition when the Astros were pitching.  Nor were they making the other team aware they were using stuff outside of the normal rules so that the opposing team could combat it.

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"Cheating" is part of the game, but like you say, between players.  If you figure out how a pitcher is tipping his pitches, that's a skill and deserves to be utilized.   But yes, what they appear to be doing is orchestrated cheating...without the quotes.

I saw a good breakdown of it today but a quick look and I couldn't find it.  This article might have it embedded as the Twitter username looks familiar:

https://sportsnaut.com/2019/11/watch-breakdown-shows-astros-blatantly-stealing-signs/

 

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1 hour ago, ewsieg said:

"Cheating" is part of the game, but like you say, between players.  If you figure out how a pitcher is tipping his pitches, that's a skill and deserves to be utilized.   But yes, what they appear to be doing is orchestrated cheating...without the quotes.

I saw a good breakdown of it today but a quick look and I couldn't find it.  This article might have it embedded as the Twitter username looks familiar:

https://sportsnaut.com/2019/11/watch-breakdown-shows-astros-blatantly-stealing-signs/

 

I wouldn't even call a runner on 2nd relaying signs cheating in any way. It's up to the pitcher and catcher to conceal what they are doing from the other *players*. Players watching other players for what they are doing is a proper part of the game. It's no different from a catcher noticing a hitter has moved up closer to the plate calling for a pitch even further away. The cheating is when there there is help coming from off the field. For instance in this example I don't think a team should be able to have video in the dugout to check whether a hitter is not in his normal stance - to me that would also be over the line.

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On 11/13/2019 at 2:07 PM, RedRamage said:

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/mlb/tigers/2019/11/13/ex-tiger-mike-fiers-astros-used-camera-steal-signs-during-championship-season/2585212001/

The short version is this: Camera in CF pointed at catcher, TV was in hallway near Astro's dugout.  When an off-speed pitch was indicated someone would bang a trashcan to signal the Astro Batter.

Mike Fiers, who pitched for the Astros in '17, when this was supposedly going on, is saying it did happen.  MLB investigating.

For the record, I have no problem stealing signs by the players and/or coaching who are on the field or in the dugout not using any technology.  I have no problem with a team trying to figure out what a first or third baseman are signaling to runners/batters.  I have no problem with a runner on base trying to signal to a batter.  As long as it's happening on the field by the people in the game, it should be legal imho.

But using technology like cameras and relay from people not in the game is wrong (again imho) because it's uneven.  The Astros, if they did indeed do this, obviously weren't sharing this video feed with the opposition when the Astros were pitching.  Nor were they making the other team aware they were using stuff outside of the normal rules so that the opposing team could combat it.

If you ain't cheating . . .

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A guy last night on twitter said basically pick any random game and inning and you can find it.... he documented it.

And this has to be done with "external" cameras, meaning once set up by the team as the feeds from the offical cameras are on a delay, for this very reason.  In team video rooms on site they have MLB officials there to make sure nothing funny is going on.... so this isn't a case of them just using existing technology put there by the league.  

I'm surprised it took this long to come out.

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Just for some context when I say what I'm about to say, I pitched in the minor leagues for 3 years, making it up to high A between stints with Boston and Cincinnati. Made some decent money, met some unbelievable guys/players and some of the biggest *** holes you'll ever encounter.

If all of this is true, and when I say all of this I mean the cameras, ear pieces, I even heard body sensors or something like that? Someone was saying there was a computer/camera in the home dugout at Minute Maid? I heard there was a garbage can they would hit as a way to communicate the signals at home. If true, then his is the most egregious act of cheating I have ever seen in any sport. The wrath of God needs to be brought upon everyone that was complicit in this. There is absolutely no place in our game for using cameras to effectively spy on the other team's signals. Let alone to turn around and use them pitch by pitch by pitch. If they were doing it during the season, you know they were doing it in the playoffs. That is absolutely the most immoral, unethical behavior baseball has ever seen. I want people banned for life. Pete Rose betting on his own team earned a lifetime ban. These guys potentially doing what they did ruined seasons and postseasons. It tainted everything they ever accomplished. In short, screw everyone who was complicit in this. None of them should ever be allowed to manage/coach/play ever again. Set a precedent that this isn't acceptable. Forfeit salaries. Void contracts. This is THAT bad for me.

I cannot imagine being a pitcher, logging 200+ innings, working my tail off all year/off-season to make the World Series. And have it come out that a scandal like that was going on. That a team would set up cameras in the outfield and relay the signals to the dugout. Who would then turn around and use a system of noises and maybe even earpieces and shocks? Again, it's al hearsay at this point, but I'm serious about this. People should be gone forever.

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I think when you hire a bunch of Wall Street types to run your organization, cheating was inevitable.  What is surprising is how poorly it was executed.  Did they think they weren't going to get caught banging garbage cans before off-speed pitches.  Or are they so amoral they don't care?    

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On 11/19/2019 at 11:51 AM, Sydney_Fife said:

I want people banned for life. Pete Rose betting on his own team earned a lifetime ban. These guys potentially doing what they did ruined seasons and postseasons. It tainted everything they ever accomplished. In short, screw everyone who was complicit in this.

I agree that this is pretty serious and I think it needs serious punishment.  BUT... I don't put in on the level of gambling for one big reason:

The assumption is with sign stealing that you're trying to improve your team and win more.  As bad as that is you can count on them still trying as hard as possible.  There's really no point in stealing signs to try and play worse.

With gambling there's always the concern of fixing a game.  That's what makes it so terrible... that a player or players or manager would intentionally throw a game is the reason gambling is the worst crime in sports.

Again, that's not to say that this is bad (at least imho) and should be punished (again, imho) but I wouldn't put it at the same level of gambling.

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This whole thing points up the problem with the mound visit rule. It's fine for dugout personnel, but the catcher should be free to go the to mound as often as he needs to if the battery thinks their signs are being stolen since any sign stealing system can be defeated as long as the catcher and pitcher can talk as much as they need to set up different signing or signing misdirections. OTOH, sign stealing becomes much more effective if the catcher and pitcher are inhibited from freely communicating during an inning. I wonder if Houston had taken a lead in the driving the visit rule?

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7 hours ago, RedRamage said:

I agree that this is pretty serious and I think it needs serious punishment.  BUT... I don't put in on the level of gambling for one big reason:

The assumption is with sign stealing that you're trying to improve your team and win more.  As bad as that is you can count on them still trying as hard as possible.  There's really no point in stealing signs to try and play worse.

With gambling there's always the concern of fixing a game.  That's what makes it so terrible... that a player or players or manager would intentionally throw a game is the reason gambling is the worst crime in sports.

Again, that's not to say that this is bad (at least imho) and should be punished (again, imho) but I wouldn't put it at the same level of gambling.

By that logic I guess betting on your own team would give you more incentive to coach harder to win. Pete Rose bet on his own team. 

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The problem with gambling isn’t just about throwing games.  Even if you bet on your own team to win you open up doors that shouldn’t be. What about games you don’t bet on?   The bookies could come to you and ask you sit your top hitter for a game to meet this weeks vig. Or perhaps personal financial gain makes you manage a game in June like it’s the last game of the year with a pennant on the line. You always have to balance short term vs long term goals.  On baseball every game can’t be treated like a game 7. 

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8 hours ago, Sydney_Fife said:

By that logic I guess betting on your own team would give you more incentive to coach harder to win. Pete Rose bet on his own team. 

Sure, on the days you bet on your team; what about the days you don't bet on them? Only a fool would bet on a team to win 162 games a year.

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Now that we are talking about gambling and baseball, I think MLBs recent partnerships with gambling organizations is a major concern.  Not only is it incredibly hypocritical, it opens up the door for all kinds of problems.  I am surprised more people are not talking about this.  

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13 hours ago, Sydney_Fife said:

By that logic I guess betting on your own team would give you more incentive to coach harder to win. Pete Rose bet on his own team. 

No, for four reasons:

First, I won't trust someone who bet on their own team to win would never be on their own team to lose.  Betting is the cardinal sin of baseball (and sports in general) and everyone knows that.  If you're so a-moral that you're willing to bet anyway, I don't believe that you'd be moral enough to ONLY bet on your team to win.

Second, if you're betting on the game you are doing something that is highly illegal within the sport and so have a strong design to keep it quiet.  Further, you run the possibility of being in debt to people who have a huge interest in being able to control games and could easily apply pressure for you to fix a game, even one you're not betting on.  You are in a highly compromised position.

Third, even assuming you only ever bet on your team to win and assuming that you never got into huge debt or successfully resisted any attempt to coerce you into losing a game, there's still a problem of the spread.  You can still win or lose a game and win the bet if it beats the spread.  You could simply not try to win by as much.

Fourth, let's say #1 and #2 don't come into play and when you bet you only ever bet for your team to win without any regard to a spread, there's still another problem: What about when you don't bet?  Especially as a manager Pete Rose has the ability to sit or play star players which could dramatically influence the outcome.  Further, he could decide to keep a struggling pitcher in a game because he hadn't bet on that one and would rather the pitcher just take his lumps rather than use up bullpen arms which he might need in a game he is betting on.

With stealing signs many of these issues disappear:

1. You're not stealing sign to get worse.  If you're willing to cheat you're scum, but you're scum interested in winning.  You don't cheat to lose.

2. This is still an issue for sign stealing.  If someone caught you they could lean on you to try and fix games or threaten to report that you cheated.

3. Obviously betting spreads have nothing to do with sign stealing.

4. There isn't any incentive to not try as hard as possible simply because signs can't be stolen this game.  If the camera broke one game, for example, the manager isn't going to decide not to play a star player because there's no incentive to win.

EDIT to add: Please don't misunderstand here... I still think this is a major problem and I do NOT agree with people like the author of the linked story above that "this 'scandal' is fun. It’s one of the first fun scandals we’ve had in sports in decades." 

To me this is a major crime... less major than gambling, but still a major crime.  I would like to see punishments akin to those caught using PEDs.

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Just my 2 cents, but what Houston did they did as a team and to me is much worse than one guy with a gambling problem.

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27 minutes ago, John_Brian_K said:

Just my 2 cents, but what Houston did they did as a team and to me is much worse than one guy with a gambling problem.

I'd equate it with steroids. While still wrong, it's still an attempt to win games. Gambling is not on the that level because it also incentivises losing.

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I think JBK does has a point that this is a team activity and that makes it worse than a guy using PEDs on his own.  This is a team activity and so goes deeper than just one person.

That said, I question whether PEDs during the worst of the epidemic was really just isolated individuals without team knowledge.  Granted, it likely was team organized, but I doubt that most teams were ignorant of what was going on.

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15 hours ago, RedRamage said:

I think JBK does has a point that this is a team activity and that makes it worse than a guy using PEDs on his own.  This is a team activity and so goes deeper than just one person.

That said, I question whether PEDs during the worst of the epidemic was really just isolated individuals without team knowledge.  Granted, it likely was team organized, but I doubt that most teams were ignorant of what was going on.

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On Friday, November 22, 2019 at 12:46 PM, RedRamage said:

No, for four reasons:

First, I won't trust someone who bet on their own team to win would never be on their own team to lose.  Betting is the cardinal sin of baseball (and sports in general) and everyone knows that.  If you're so a-moral that you're willing to bet anyway, I don't believe that you'd be moral enough to ONLY bet on your team to win.

Second, if you're betting on the game you are doing something that is highly illegal within the sport and so have a strong design to keep it quiet.  Further, you run the possibility of being in debt to people who have a huge interest in being able to control games and could easily apply pressure for you to fix a game, even one you're not betting on.  You are in a highly compromised position.

Third, even assuming you only ever bet on your team to win and assuming that you never got into huge debt or successfully resisted any attempt to coerce you into losing a game, there's still a problem of the spread.  You can still win or lose a game and win the bet if it beats the spread.  You could simply not try to win by as much.

Fourth, let's say #1 and #2 don't come into play and when you bet you only ever bet for your team to win without any regard to a spread, there's still another problem: What about when you don't bet?  Especially as a manager Pete Rose has the ability to sit or play star players which could dramatically influence the outcome.  Further, he could decide to keep a struggling pitcher in a game because he hadn't bet on that one and would rather the pitcher just take his lumps rather than use up bullpen arms which he might need in a game he is betting on.

With stealing signs many of these issues disappear:

1. You're not stealing sign to get worse.  If you're willing to cheat you're scum, but you're scum interested in winning.  You don't cheat to lose.

2. This is still an issue for sign stealing.  If someone caught you they could lean on you to try and fix games or threaten to report that you cheated.

3. Obviously betting spreads have nothing to do with sign stealing.

4. There isn't any incentive to not try as hard as possible simply because signs can't be stolen this game.  If the camera broke one game, for example, the manager isn't going to decide not to play a star player because there's no incentive to win.

EDIT to add: Please don't misunderstand here... I still think this is a major problem and I do NOT agree with people like the author of the linked story above that "this 'scandal' is fun. It’s one of the first fun scandals we’ve had in sports in decades." 

To me this is a major crime... less major than gambling, but still a major crime.  I would like to see punishments akin to those caught using PEDs.

Another  major concern with a manager betting on his own team to win is that he may manage differently in a game if he has money on it, in ways that may help win that game but be detrimental to the team overall.  Like playing  a ding'ed-up star who should be sitting and risking further injury to him, or bringing in a closer who has pitched three days in a row and needs a break, or maybe bringing in tomorrow's ace starter in relief and compromising the next game for the sake of winning this one.

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