MLB’s sign-stealing controversy broadens: Sources say the Red Sox used video replay room illegally in 2018

geoduck no quahog

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I'd consider a team that didn't use available resources to steal signs a bunch of nimrods. No one criticizes the accepted tool of stealing signs from 2nd base. Technology (including a guy in the bleachers with binoculars) now allows a team to steal signs without a base runner. I see no difference with the man on 2nd scenario...or a guy in the stands...or a guy watching video.

The answer is one of two things: (1) be more clever with masking pitch calls, or (2) throw high and inside on an apparent low and away sign...and keep mixing it up.

Just assume signs are being stole because...they can be.
 

cornwalls@6

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I'd consider a team that didn't use available resources to steal signs a bunch of nimrods. No one criticizes the accepted tool of stealing signs from 2nd base. Technology (including a guy in the bleachers with binoculars) now allows a team to steal signs without a base runner. I see no difference with the man on 2nd scenario...or a guy in the stands...or a guy watching video.

The answer is one of two things: (1) be more clever with masking pitch calls, or (2) throw high and inside on an apparent low and away sign...and keep mixing it up.

Just assume signs are being stole because...they can be.
This guy gets it.
 

Plympton91

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I'd consider a team that didn't use available resources to steal signs a bunch of nimrods. No one criticizes the accepted tool of stealing signs from 2nd base. Technology (including a guy in the bleachers with binoculars) now allows a team to steal signs without a base runner. I see no difference with the man on 2nd scenario...or a guy in the stands...or a guy watching video.

The answer is one of two things: (1) be more clever with masking pitch calls, or (2) throw high and inside on an apparent low and away sign...and keep mixing it up.

Just assume signs are being stole because...they can be.
This guy gets it.
What if I told you that mixing up the signs led to 5 seconds more per pitch, which in a 270 pitch game lengthens it by about 22 minutes?

Would your opinion change?
 

cornwalls@6

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What if I told you that mixing up the signs led to 5 seconds more per pitch, which in a 270 pitch game lengthens it by about 22 minutes?

Would your opinion change?
Not one bit when it comes to how ridiculous I think the rules are when it comes to legal stealing vs. illegal stealing, and how ridiculous I also think the faux moral outrage over these things are. Certainly don’t want longer games (and not sure if your above time increase is based on data, or hypothetical), and as I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s probably time to start using technology to administer signs, if switching them up isn’t viable.
 

Rough Carrigan

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I'd consider a team that didn't use available resources to steal signs a bunch of nimrods. No one criticizes the accepted tool of stealing signs from 2nd base. Technology (including a guy in the bleachers with binoculars) now allows a team to steal signs without a base runner. I see no difference with the man on 2nd scenario...or a guy in the stands...or a guy watching video.

The answer is one of two things: (1) be more clever with masking pitch calls, or (2) throw high and inside on an apparent low and away sign...and keep mixing it up.

Just assume signs are being stole because...they can be.
1A - I mentioned this before. The Doyle Alexander method where the catcher puts down fingers and the pitcher waves his glove left or right, up or down to indicate more or less than that many fingers is the pitch that he wants. To steal signs from that team in the field would require having cameras facing and simultaneously showing the pitcher and the catcher, someone reading both correctly and then passing that along to the batter. It'd be significantly more difficult to scam.
 

The Gray Eagle

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I wish MLB would start experimenting with technological solutions for signs right away, like this spring.

Try earpieces for the pitcher and catcher. Try wristbands on the pitcher and catcher, where every time the catcher pushes a button on his, the pitcher's buzzes silently. One buzz fastball, 2 for a curve, etc.
Let teams use these or anything similar that works. Some pitchers won't like the earpieces, so they can choose whatever setup they want out of the approved ones.

Once they get at least one working technological setup, then get rid of all rules against sign stealing.

Since just pushing a button should be faster than giving a bunch of different signals, the game should move faster. Then you can start enforcing the rules against hitters stepping out and pitchers having to throw a pitch within 12 seconds.

This should solve the sign stealing technology problem that is only getting bigger, and it should make the game go faster.

What I think MLB will actually do: leave their dumb current system in place, add a few more rules that won't stop anything but will have to be enforced, and punish teams harshly every time one gets caught, leading to more publicity about cheating in baseball and how players these days are all immoral cheaters who break the rules whenever they can get away with it (which they always have been, but that part always gets left out.)

Eventually most teams will get caught. Except for the ones who are the best at doing it without getting caught, and those teams will have an advantage over the others.
 

Manramsclan

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In order for any of these "earphone" scenarios to work, every pitch would need to be called from the dugout since it wouldn't make sense for the catcher to be speaking into a mic with the batter a few feet away........ I personally don't like that as it would further degrade the catchers position.........What is to prevent a team that is intent on cheating from hacking into the other teams transmission or blocking the other teams transmission in some way??
I heard AJ Ellis and Buster Olney on the Baseball Tonight podcast discussing that a recent agreement with the umpires union regarding the possible implementation of an electronic strike zone will result in pitches being called by the front office/management. In that case, really both pitcher and catcher would just have to hear. They were speaking as if the catchers position being degraded was a fait accompli and that it would ultimately become an offensive position where ability to block pitches and control the running game would be more important than the finer points of game calling etc.

I'm not crazy about it either, but it would make sign stealing something completely different and more along the lines of the hacking/jamming that you describe. That would be clearly cheating in my opinion.
 

JimD

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I heard AJ Ellis and Buster Olney on the Baseball Tonight podcast discussing that a recent agreement with the umpires union regarding the possible implementation of an electronic strike zone will result in pitches being called by the front office/management. In that case, really both pitcher and catcher would just have to hear. They were speaking as if the catchers position being degraded was a fait accompli and that it would ultimately become an offensive position where ability to block pitches and control the running game would be more important than the finer points of game calling etc.

I'm not crazy about it either, but it would make sign stealing something completely different and more along the lines of the hacking/jamming that you describe. That would be clearly cheating in my opinion.
It would be instructive to know approximately how many catchers routinely call their own games today (with perhaps some minimal input from the dugout) vs. those who rely on the pitcher or coaching staff to relay signs. Is it really a problem if you have a younger catcher who has all the other tools (including the arm to control the running game) and can hit but relies on the pitcher and/or coaches to call pitches? I also assume that pitch-calling abilities varies among veteran catchers and that calling a good game is based on more than merely longevity.
 

normstalls

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"MLB is expected to hand down one of the harshest penalties in the sport’s history against the #Astros when their investigation is completed by the end of the month. "
 

drbretto

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"MLB is expected to hand down one of the harshest penalties in the sport’s history against the #Astros when their investigation is completed by the end of the month. "
That strikes me as a bad idea. Assuming the headline isn't exaggerating for clicks.

I understand their position. Even if sign stealing is in the realm of gamesmanship, being brazen enough to do it by banging trash cans on live TV in the digital age is careless and stupid and genuinely damages the integrity of the game. Their hands are forced. But if the penalties aren't at least in line with history, it sets standards I don't think they can really keep to.

Making a bold statement puts a microscope on an issue best viewed through a telescope. It shifts the blame to the players/teams instead of recognizing the architecture's weaknesses. I think they need a reasonably strong penalty along with some kind of statement condemning the Astros' actions, as well as acknowledging MLB's commitment to looking into what they can do to at least make it prohibitively difficult going forward.

Don't get me wrong, the people involved made the decision to do what they did. They're responsible for their actions. But so is MLB, as they could easily make a lot of this issue obsolete with a few changes.
 

Plympton91

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How disruptive do people think it would be if the TV broadcast was just prohibited from showing the straight-on CF angle that allows the audience to see the sign sequence until after the signs have been given? Or to force them to blur the catchers’ fingers while the sequence is ongoing. I assume all the broadcasts are on a short delay anyway (because I often get an alert on my phone a couple seconds before I see it happen on DirecTV).

You know what would be an interesting study? Does the home team feed, which I assume is what gets beamed to the replay booths, show the catcher giving signs more often when the home team is hitting than when the visiting team is hitting? If this is a widespread practice, one way for a team to get an advantage would be to game the TV feed that way.

Anyone in the business who can opine on those things? Not focus straight on until the catcher has finished giving signs? Blur the catchers’ fingers? Manipulate the view for home vs. Away?
 

NomarsFool

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Watching a catcher stare into the dugout to find out what pitch to throw, and then watching the catcher relay those signs to the pitcher, and then a pitch is finally thrown - that pitch is fouled off, and we go through the whole sequence again - is mind numbingly boring.

As football has done, it's time to have the coaches just be able to talk to the players on the field and tell them what to do.
 

Max Power

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The MLB suggested solution to the problem is actually quite elegant. They want to use a random number generator between 1 and 4 that only the pitcher and catcher can see. The catcher would have to put down just four signs and the real one was whatever the number generator came up with. That should actually cut down on the number of signs that are given, is unbreakable for the other team, and doesn't meaningfully change the game calling that catchers and pitchers have done for the last 130 years. It will suck for Eck when he's calling the games and can't see what pitch is coming before it's thrown, but I'm sure he'll adapt.

If you wanted to make sure there's no peeking from the clubhouse, you can mandate that the only feed that can be shown there during games is the high home camera. Anyone hanging out back there could follow the game, but wouldn't be able to see anything for sign stealing purposes.
 

Harry Hooper

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I will speculate that the Astros used a bundle of techniques, not just the trash can one we know about now.
 

Plympton91

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What number would the Gyroball be?

I thought signs were beyond just type of pitch, but also location and calling for pickoffs. Not sure a random number generator allows all that data
Well , if you have 3 sequences, but the “live” sign in each sequence is the same, then it’s still ok right? So, the random number generator just has to be the number of decoy signs, not encompass all possible combinations.

You can still call 5 different pitches to 5 different locations, first set of 4 signs is the pitch, second set of 4 signs is the location.
 

Max Power

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I think people are misunderstanding the system. The random number tells you which sign is the real one; it's not the sign itself. You can still use a thumb for a pickoff or pinky for a right side of the plate fastball as long as it's the correct one in sequence.
 

Manramsclan

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It would be instructive to know approximately how many catchers routinely call their own games today (with perhaps some minimal input from the dugout) vs. those who rely on the pitcher or coaching staff to relay signs. Is it really a problem if you have a younger catcher who has all the other tools (including the arm to control the running game) and can hit but relies on the pitcher and/or coaches to call pitches? I also assume that pitch-calling abilities varies among veteran catchers and that calling a good game is based on more than merely longevity.
This is a good point and I think the answer to the question is no. There was, however, a sense in that conversation that they were speculating that the pitches would be called by off the field personnel. This would be a dramatic departure from the current status quo and is representative of the tension between the front offices and managers/scouts in the modern game epitomized by Moneyball.
 

effectivelywild

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Everyone is ignoring the easiest solution: institute a rule where the catcher has to tell the batter what pitch is coming, or the pitch is automatically a ball.
 
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Everyone is ignoring the easiest solution: institute a rule where the catcher has to tell the batter what pitch is coming, or the pitch is automatically a ball.
1876 - "The batsman, on taking his position, must call for a 'high,' 'low,' or 'fair' pitch, and the umpire shall notify the pitcher to deliver the ball as required; such a call cannot be changed after the first pitch is delivered."

High - pitches over the plate between the batter's waist and shoulders
Low - pitches over the plate between the batter's waist and at least one foot from the ground.
Fair - pitches over the plate between the batter's shoulders and at least one foot from the ground.

Before the 1887 season started, that was changed "no lower than a batsman's knee or higher than his shoulder."
 

jarules1185

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Everyone is ignoring the easiest solution: institute a rule where the catcher has to tell the batter what pitch is coming, or the pitch is automatically a ball.
And in football and basketball you have to announce to the other side what play you are running. No more playaction or reverses or slipping screens, those are fakes designed to conceal intent, which isn’t permitted.
 
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The MLB suggested solution to the problem is actually quite elegant. They want to use a random number generator between 1 and 4 that only the pitcher and catcher can see.
The other fielders should know what pitch is coming, or at least its location, so they have an idea of where a batted ball is likely to end up

Even more important, middle infielders have to know when a pitchout is coming.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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Watching a catcher stare into the dugout to find out what pitch to throw, and then watching the catcher relay those signs to the pitcher, and then a pitch is finally thrown - that pitch is fouled off, and we go through the whole sequence again - is mind numbingly boring.

As football has done, it's time to have the coaches just be able to talk to the players on the field and tell them what to do.
Why do you think the catcher is looking to the dugout for pitch selection?

Typically the dugout manages the running game so that pitcher and catcher can focus on getting the hitter out. The dugout worries about pickoffs and pitchouts.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Going off of Speier's article isn't the use of a delayed feed a loop hole in the 2018 rule? Is using a delayed feed all that less efficacious than a real time feed? Say they had the BATS system sitting next to the real time replay system and by watching both you could decipher that the third signal in a sequence was the pitch. That info gets relayed to the dugout and the next time a batter gets to second base they use the info and signal the batter. As far as I can tell they aren't alleged to have done and Houston-like real time relaying of signs, so what material difference does it make if you decipher signs from the real time (illegal) feed and the delayed (legal) feed?
 

Mooch

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Per Rosenthal:

BREAKING: Per sources, MLB’s penalties for #Astros include: *One-year suspensions for GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. *Losses of 1st and 2nd round draft picks in both 2020 and ‘21. *A fine of $5M.
 

TimScribble

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If this happens to the Sox then go over the threshold and not worry about the lost draft pick. Get it under control in 2 years.
 

BaseballJones

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Per Rosenthal:

BREAKING: Per sources, MLB’s penalties for #Astros include: *One-year suspensions for GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. *Losses of 1st and 2nd round draft picks in both 2020 and ‘21. *A fine of $5M.
Holy crap that’s steep.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Mooch

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Ryan Hannable just tweeted that Cora is specifically cited in MLB's report on the Astros as "being involved in developing the banging scheme as well as utilizing the replay room to decode and transmit signs."
 

Tyrone Biggums

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This is the part of the press release about Hinch, where it's clear that while Hinch opposed the scheme, he was being suspended for not stopping the scheme. Cora likely was a more enthusiastic participant right?
Cora it seems was the architect of this. If that's the case he is going to get smoked. Hinch's suspension seems akin to the old NCAA "Lack of Institutional Control". Wouldn't be shocked to see 2 years for Cora. More than likely only one but he's not managing this season. There's zero chance.

I'm interested in how Beltran despite being a player at the time can get away with being co ring leader with Cora.
 

OurF'ingCity

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Yeesh. Assuming there is ANY validity to the Sox 2018 investigation I don't see how Cora doesn't get a year as well (or more?), given that the write-up appears to suggest he was much more involved than Hinch.