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RedRamage

Astro's stealing signs?

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Even though there were many interviews with angry players as they were coming into camp, and the boos for the Astros still persist, in general the issue has quieted down a lot in the past week or so. So I must conclude that there will be no more investigations and the Red Sox are going to get a slap on the wrist, if anything, because Baseball wants this story to simply go away, since this whole affair is bad for business. Because remember, Mike Fiers went through official channels to complain about the Astros' cheating and was flatly ignored, so this would never have come out in the first place had the Athletic not broken the story.

The reason this is what Baseball is going to do is that the Bad Apple Strategy has been Baseball’s default for managing every major scandal throughout the game’s history.

Let’s start with the mother of all scandals, the Black Sox. For decades, we were told that the only team that ever engaged in throwing games for money was the Chicago White Sox in the 1919 World Series. However, the past few years have revealed that not only was the 1918 World Series likely thrown by Cubs players in exchange for payoffs, but fixing games was practically a cottage industry during the entire first half century of professional baseball. Yet, only the Black Sox stand out in our mind as THE Bad Apple uniquely guilty of this mortal sin.

In the original drug scandal during the 1980s, cocaine use was rampant in major league clubhouses, yet the investigation centered on a single team so exclusively it came to be known as the “Pittsburgh drug trials”. And even though most of the players punished were not Pirates, by keeping the spotlight focused on Pittsburgh, Baseball could credibly claim the entire problem was localized in just one Bad Apple city.

Fast forward to the other drug scandal. Eighty-nine players were named in the Mitchell Report, and more than eighty have been suspended for use. Yet, when we think of steroid users, what name floats to the top of the list, basically to the exclusion of anyone else? Yup—Barry Bonds. By focusing the problem on the biggest Bad Apple of all—a guy who never tested positive for steroids even once—Baseball can pretend that performance enhancing drugs are no longer a problem in the game, even though a player was suspended for it just last week. (And I can't even name the guy off the top of my head. Bet you can't, either.)

Even Pete Rose could be considered a Bad Apple case. There have been over 15,000 major leaguers since the Black Sox scandal, and Pete Rose is still the only one who’s been banned for gambling? Do we really believe Pete is the only player since then who has gambled on a game in which he had a duty to perform? I don’t know for sure, but just by the numbers, I find that unlikely.

So Baseball has a long history of burying scandals by pointing at lone examples and saying look over there, there’s the Bad Apple, we’ve taken care of them, everything’s fine now. And I fully expect they will follow the same playbook this time and maintain the Astros were the one Bad Apple who engaged in organizational sign stealing. And then the problem will be solved, and everyone will be happy.

Right?

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I don't disagree with most of what you wrote, but I do take exception with the Barry Bonds comment.  He's definitely not the first name that comes to my mind... Canseco is the first obviously... but then I think of McGuire, Sosa, Clemens, Palmeiro, even Pettite come before I think of Bonds.  That's not to say that I don't think Bonds probably took Steroids, it's just not the first person I think of.

And I don't think MLB is pretending it's no longer and issue.  They definitely absolutely were guilty of turning a blind eye to it early on, but the continued testing, as well as suspension of players, shows that they do consider it a problem that needs monitoring.

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Oh, also Pete Rose/Gambling: I'm 99.999% sure that others have gambled.  But I don't know how big of a problem it is, nor does it discount the fact that Rose did gamble and has to pay the price.
 

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On 2/16/2020 at 10:46 AM, tiger337 said:

 

 

Not a fan of this style of "reporting"

"one team"

If there is sufficient evidence to prove they did that then say the team name...if there is not then do not run the story.

Seems to be my general beef regarding reporting these days.  

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On 3/2/2020 at 11:58 AM, RedRamage said:

I don't disagree with most of what you wrote, but I do take exception with the Barry Bonds comment.  He's definitely not the first name that comes to my mind... Canseco is the first obviously... but then I think of McGuire, Sosa, Clemens, Palmeiro, even Pettite come before I think of Bonds.  That's not to say that I don't think Bonds probably took Steroids, it's just not the first person I think of.

And I don't think MLB is pretending it's no longer and issue.  They definitely absolutely were guilty of turning a blind eye to it early on, but the continued testing, as well as suspension of players, shows that they do consider it a problem that needs monitoring.

It wasn't just turning a blind eye.  There is a lot of evidence that many in the managing and coaching and front office and league office ranks not only were aware of it and condoned it but tacitly or even actively encouraged it.  Just as some teams made amphetamines available to players back in the 60s and 70s if not before.

The sanctimony over steroids is ridiculous.  A huge percentage of players, both position players and pitchers, used them.  And I see making yourself a better player as very different in kind from the sort of cheating that the Astros engaged in.  The Steroid Era is just that -- an era like the Dead Ball one or the offensively wild time around 1930 or the hitless Sixties, and no more.  It was just a big part of the overall environment of the game in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the players who played in it are no more deserving of having their successes and gaudy stats held against them than are the hitters of 1930 or the pitchers of 1968.  

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I very strongly suspect all teams made amphetamines available.  Jim Bouton was convinced half of the league used them in 1969, FWIW.

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On 2/14/2020 at 8:01 PM, tiger337 said:

I found an interesting thread on twitter by Bill Petti.  More analysis is needed, but it looks like the cheating might not have helped that much.  

 

Aoki knew how to use that information.

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On 3/6/2020 at 12:13 PM, six-hopper said:

It wasn't just turning a blind eye.  There is a lot of evidence that many in the managing and coaching and front office and league office ranks not only were aware of it and condoned it but tacitly or even actively encouraged it.  Just as some teams made amphetamines available to players back in the 60s and 70s if not before.

The sanctimony over steroids is ridiculous.  A huge percentage of players, both position players and pitchers, used them.  And I see making yourself a better player as very different in kind from the sort of cheating that the Astros engaged in.  The Steroid Era is just that -- an era like the Dead Ball one or the offensively wild time around 1930 or the hitless Sixties, and no more.  It was just a big part of the overall environment of the game in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the players who played in it are no more deserving of having their successes and gaudy stats held against them than are the hitters of 1930 or the pitchers of 1968.  

Wow, we agree on something!  

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Watched some of the Houston game last night on MLB.....some kid was running around in the centerfield knoll with a fastball sign while a Houston player was up....they cut to that shot then cut to the player who swung and missed BADLY on a ball in the dirt....the pitch before he took, which was a SUPER close pitch...I just thought the juxtaposition of him swinging at a ball in the dirt immediately after taking a super close pitch with the shot of the kid in the outfield running around in between was funny.

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I have this feeling that we'll hear a LOT of banging on things by the opposing fans when the Astros are on the road this coming year.

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Good video from fangraphs of the Astros getting busted stealing signs during a game.

 

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