The Athletic: The Astros stole signs electronically in 2017 part of a much broader issue for Major League Baseball

jon abbey

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This would presumably implicate Cora and Beltran among others, the current BOS and NYM managers, both big parts of that 2017 HOU team.
 

nattysez

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The Red Sox weren’t concerned with the Astros’ attempts to spy on them during the American League Championship Series. In fact, they took it as a sign of success.

Boston manager Alex Cora, who is now readying his team for the World Series after defeating Houston in five games, was asked about the subplot during an interview on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni and Fauria” on Friday.

One of the major off-the-field developments of the ALCS was an investigation by Major League Baseball into accusations of an Astros employee spying on the Red Sox dugout during Game 1. The incident concluded when the league ruled Houston didn’t violate any rules.

Still, Cora wasn’t angry with the Astros. On the contrary, he indicated his happiness at the apparent effect it had on his opposition.

“I took it the other way around because they openly said that they were playing defense,” Cora said. “They said they were checking on us if we were stealing signs, or doing something wrong in the dugout.”

“I was like, ‘Paranoia is working for us,'” Cora continued. “They are panicking. Throughout the series, we did a lot of stuff as far as like dummy signs and all this stuff to keep the paranoia going.”

As far as sign-stealing, Cora noted he sees nothing wrong with it:

That is part of the game — tipping, stealing signs, relaying pitches and paying attention to details. That is the way I took it. If they feel that way about us, we might as well push the envelope and keep doing a lot of things that are going to make them uncomfortable and you saw it. They kept changing signs and the tempo of the games was awful, but that worked into our advantage I think.
 

jon abbey

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I mean, Mangini wasn't punished for Spygate, and the NFL is way stricter than MLB
Sorry for being unclear, I personally could give a shit about anyone getting punished including HOU, I just want this to stop because I think it is really hurting the game. All of the time and energy put into using signs that the other team can't decipher even electronically should be put into making the next pitch better.

I guess my point with that prior post was just that both of those guys used the success of the 2017 team to catapult themselves to manager jobs elsewhere.
 

jon abbey

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"They kept changing signs and the tempo of the games was awful"-Alex Cora
This is my issue with it, also it is really draining for catchers and shouldn't have to be part of their jobs to this extent (IMO obv).
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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I think there's a substantial difference between figuring out the third base coach's signs, or having the runner on second convey signs and positioning, and using a camera/monitor/trash can solution. If tech is involved, it's bullshit.
 

EvilEmpire

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Players stealing signs as best they can is fine with me, but legalizing camera/computer/whatever aided stealing by team personnel would suck, I think. I'm not interested in knowing which teams have the slickest intelligence operations.
 

mikeysox

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I think there's a substantial difference between figuring out the third base coach's signs, or having the runner on second convey signs and positioning, and using a camera/monitor/trash can solution. If tech is involved, it's bullshit.
For sure.
Honestly, they should just allow some kind of tech based solution so the catcher and pitcher can communicate without worrying about being intercepted. Like the helmet speakers QBs use.
 

chrisfont9

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For sure.
Honestly, they should just allow some kind of tech based solution so the catcher and pitcher can communicate without worrying about being intercepted. Like the helmet speakers QBs use.
Hm, this could be interesting. Of course, the catcher can't speak the sign with the hitter right there. And then there's the malfunction issue, which would probably only happen on rare occasions but drive baseball twitter batshit crazy. But I'm sure there's a way.
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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I actually wonder if the camera wasn't used more detecting pitch tipping than sign stealing. Based on the fact that a lot of Houston's hitting success happens with runners off base, I've long suspected that they have an advantage at detecting pitch tipping. We know that Kimbrel was getting hit hard before Eric Gagne pointed out that he was tipping his pitches, and I believe it was Stephen Strasburg, who said he made an adjustment after being told he was pitch tipping in the first inning of the World Series Game 6 (which was in Houston). Tyler Glasnow also admitted he was tipping pitches in Game 5 of the ALDS (again in Houston). What's remarkable to me is just how quickly Houston was able to pick up on this. Either they've got multiple people all scouting it mid-game and relaying it into the dugout in real time when detected or they're using a camera to detect differences in the wind up, stretch and throw motion of different pitches. This would actually be pretty easy to do in real time with video tracking software, and might explain why Houston is using a specific camera shot to try to do it.
 

crow216

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Hm, this could be interesting. Of course, the catcher can't speak the sign with the hitter right there. And then there's the malfunction issue, which would probably only happen on rare occasions but drive baseball twitter batshit crazy. But I'm sure there's a way.
I imagine the coach would run the call and both the pitcher and catcher would hear it. (If they allowed that)
 

axx

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Hm, this could be interesting. Of course, the catcher can't speak the sign with the hitter right there. And then there's the malfunction issue, which would probably only happen on rare occasions but drive baseball twitter batshit crazy. But I'm sure there's a way.
You'd have to move to having the bench call the pitches. Which could actually speed up the game a tad if the bench can relay info to the pitcher without having to go out to the mound.
 

JimD

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From the article:

The Astros’ set-up in 2017 was not overly complicated. A feed from a camera in center field, fixed on the opposing catcher’s signs, was hooked up to a television monitor that was placed on a wall steps from the team’s home dugout at Minute Maid Park, in the tunnel that runs between the dugout and the clubhouse. Team employees and players would watch the screen during the game and try to decode signs — sitting opposite the screen on massage tables in a wide hallway.
How is it that nobody at MLB picked up on something so blatant?
 

E5 Yaz

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Here is a snippet from the article

the Astros might be taken to the woodshed if this turns out how it’s reported.
Here's another "snippet" from the article

It’s an issue that permeates through the whole league,” one major league manager said. “The league has done a very poor job of policing or discouraging it.”

Electronic sign stealing is not a single-team issue. Major League Baseball rules prohibit clubs from using electronic equipment to steal catchers’ signs and convey information. Still, the commissioner’s office hears complaints about many different organizations — everything from mysterious people in white shirts sending signals from center field to elaborate systems involving television cameras and tablets.
Yeah, the headline calls out the Astros, but our intrepid opening poster conveniently makes it sound as though it's an Astros-only issue ... which, of course, is bullshit

If Houston is going to be "taken to the woodshed," it's likely to be very crowded in there
 

BaseballJones

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Following the NFL model, MLB could pick-and-choose which team(s) it selectively punishes. Houston being an obvious candidate.
 

crow216

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Here's another "snippet" from the article



Yeah, the headline calls out the Astros, but our intrepid opening poster conveniently makes it sound as though it's an Astros-only issue ... which, of course, is bullshit

If Houston is going to be "taken to the woodshed," it's likely to be very crowded in there
They're the one with the most attention, and of course, the one with a witness and specifics. It's fair to start there.
 

E5 Yaz

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They're the one with the most attention, and of course, the one with a witness and specifics. It's fair to start there.
Of course, but as I said, the opening post conveniently left out the part about this being a league-wide thing and focused on one team. My complain was more about the post/poster than about Houston's wrongdoing
 

barbed wire Bob

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Whenever I read this kind of stuff I remember what Darrell Waltrip said about cheating in NASCAR: “If you don't cheat, you look like an idiot. If you do it and you don't get caught, you look like a hero. If you do it and get caught, you look like a dope. Put me in the category where I belong,.”
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Hm, this could be interesting. Of course, the catcher can't speak the sign with the hitter right there. And then there's the malfunction issue, which would probably only happen on rare occasions but drive baseball twitter batshit crazy. But I'm sure there's a way.
You would think giving the catcher and pitcher some pager system that fit in a pocket would work. It probably doesn't even need a screen - just a small buzzer of sorts.
 

ifmanis5

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They weren't subtle about it either...

@redsoxstats

Some real CIA type shit going on in Houston. CF camera, pointed at catcher, players and employees watch the feed just outside the dugout and decode signs. When an offspeed pitch is coming they whack a trash can loud enough for everyone on the field to hear.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I think there's a substantial difference between figuring out the third base coach's signs, or having the runner on second convey signs and positioning, and using a camera/monitor/trash can solution. If tech is involved, it's bullshit.
Players stealing signs as best they can is fine with me, but legalizing camera/computer/whatever aided stealing by team personnel would suck, I think. I'm not interested in knowing which teams have the slickest intelligence operations.
So, pretty much everyone agrees with this. I agree with it.

But it's kind of an interesting question to ask why one is ok and one isn't. One answer could be simply, "because that's the rule." But why?

My point is that I don't think using technology makes you any more culpable. In lawyer speak, it's exactly the same mens rea.

It's funny that there's such a wide consensus on a "cheating" issue that doesn't turn at all on the intent, but merely on how effectively one implements that intent.

Perhaps the difference is that teams can combat on the field sign stealing a little better than hidden technology spying. But, again, it certainly doesn't make the intent of the cheater different.
 

chrisfont9

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You'd have to move to having the bench call the pitches. Which could actually speed up the game a tad if the bench can relay info to the pitcher without having to go out to the mound.
Are there still a good number of catchers who call the game? I wonder if there would be any resistance to the coaches taking it back completely. Maybe I'm showing my age here.
 

sean1562

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EvilEmpire

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So, pretty much everyone agrees with this. I agree with it.

But it's kind of an interesting question to ask why one is ok and one isn't. One answer could be simply, "because that's the rule." But why?

My point is that I don't think using technology makes you any more culpable. In lawyer speak, it's exactly the same mens rea.

It's funny that there's such a wide consensus on a "cheating" issue that doesn't turn at all on the intent, but merely on how effectively one implements that intent.

Perhaps the difference is that teams can combat on the field sign stealing a little better than hidden technology spying. But, again, it certainly doesn't make the intent of the cheater different.
I think players trying to decipher and relay signs among themselves while also trying to focus on playing a difficult game somewhat minimizes the impact of sign stealing, unless the pitcher/catcher combo really isn't trying very hard to counter it. That's a bit of a game-within-a-game between players already competing on the field.

To me, using additional personnel supported by technical means changes things well beyond that simple dynamic and invites an additional sophistication that tilts the balance of competition to more fully favor the hitter and puts the pitcher/catcher at more of a competitive disadvantage.
 

crow216

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Yikes. That is about as much proof as you could possibly provide. Why did it take 2 years to notice?

Edit: And to think everyone called Boone a baby for saying Houston was whistling during the ALCS.
 

BaseballJones

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Everyone here saying that sign stealing is fine as long as technology isn't involved...how did/do you all feel about Spygate?
 

loshjott

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The sign stealing apparatus seemed to have been dismantled after the first inning in the WS. They scored 6 of their total 11 runs in those four games in the first.
 

E5 Yaz

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Everyone here saying that sign stealing is fine as long as technology isn't involved...how did/do you all feel about Spygate?
You'd think there would be more empathy for what the Astros (and, eventually, other teams) are facxing ... considering how people here fell about the Patriots always being targeted
 

LogansDad

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The more that comes out in reporting, the more a picture is painted of the Astros being a real scummy organization.
Oh, you almost nailed it.

Trashy is what the judges were going for.

To add to the discussion, I agree with people who think that players on the field (i.e. a runner on second base) trying to relay signs to a batter is something that is okay. As long as the stuff is going on in the field of play (so, like, fielders trying to pick up on base coach signs is okay, too).

What the Astros are accused of doing here is, in my opinion, very not okay. I don't know right now how not okay I am willing to say it is, but I think close to PED's is definitely in play.
 

crow216

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The sign stealing apparatus seemed to have been dismantled after the first inning in the WS. They scored 6 of their total 11 runs in those four games in the first.
What's the point of a post like this? To say it wasn't effective? Are we back to saying things like "I guess steroids didn't help abc hit homeruns?"
 

grandsalami

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You'd think there would be more empathy for what the Astros (and, eventually, other teams) are facxing ... considering how people here fell about the Patriots always being targeted
You should read up on spygate, you dont seem to know a thing about it.
 

Marciano490

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How’s this work with free agents coming though? Are there NDAs or just respect for the game codes?
 

jon abbey

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How’s this work with free agents coming though? Are there NDAs or just respect for the game codes?
I think the latter but if you read the Athletic piece, this seems to have leaked because Mike Fiers was released and told his new teams (quite understandably) about it.