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

tims4wins

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Lucroy details his experience with the A's - sometimes switching signs every pitch. No wonder games take so long.
 

Awesome Fossum

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That's what makes Manfred's inaction so crazy. At least steroids were adding some interest. Ignoring something that's adversely affecting pace of play can't even be explained cynically, can it?
 

scottyno

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I don’t care for this take from Papi:

Pedro said basically the same thing, the issue doesn't seem to be that he talked, it's that he went along with it, benefited from it, and then only turned around and outed it once it wasn't helping him anymore
 

CarolinaBeerGuy

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Pedro said basically the same thing, the issue doesn't seem to be that he talked, it's that he went along with it, benefited from it, and then only turned around and outed it once it wasn't helping him anymore
I don’t care when the whistle was blown, it’s a bad look going after the whistleblower.
 

Van Everyman

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We’ve discussed this before. The fact that lots of players have shit on Fiers doesn’t seem to be about shitting on whistleblowers. It’s about shitting on Fiers. I haven’t read a single positive thing another player has said about Fiers.
 

kelpapa

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A graph of Percentage of Hit by Pitches for MLB from 1901 through 2019. As can be seen, there has been a sharp up-rise in recent years. My guess is that the high rates seen in the early 20th century could be the result of players still becoming accustimed to the rules changes that took place a few years earlier. data from Major League Baseball Batting Year-By-Year Averages -- bb-ref.com

Do my eyes deceive me, or is there a bump during Pedro's prime?
 

notmannysfault

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I think the majesty lies in the approximately 9.0 : 1.0 : 0.5 ratio, no?

I mean, talk about pitching with a purpose...did he ever put a guy on base when he didn't mean to? never seemed like it...


I will admit, I used to come back to Boston and pay extra just to see him live several times that summer. Such a treat.
 
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Do my eyes deceive me, or is there a bump during Pedro's prime?
Wakefield, Lowe, and Arroyo all had contributions in this area, too. This number I showed is HBP/Games, which I don't think is the best way to represent it from an individual point of view as relief pitchers can hit a lot of batters but also pitch a lot more game than starters and thus the number shown for them could well be lower then if you went by batters faced.
 

Mooch

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Pedro said basically the same thing, the issue doesn't seem to be that he talked, it's that he went along with it, benefited from it, and then only turned around and outed it once it wasn't helping him anymore
Given that the Astros whistleblower is a white guy, the Astros owner and front office are white guys, the MLB Commissioner is a white guy and the official statement from the league pinned nearly the entire scheme on two Latin American guys? Should we be surprised that two of the most prominent Latino players in MLB history would take some offense at the way this whole thing went down?

Here's an article from the LA Times a few weeks ago about how Puerto Rican former players, managers and fans feel - Very similar to Pedro and Papi's opinion: https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2020-02-07/puerto-ricans-conflicted-actions-countrymen-carlos-beltran-alex-cora
 

EnochRoot

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We’ve discussed this before. The fact that lots of players have shit on Fiers doesn’t seem to be about shitting on whistleblowers. It’s about shitting on Fiers. I haven’t read a single positive thing another player has said about Fiers.
Ah...Good to see you again, Tu Quoque (bordering on Ad Hominem, frankly).

It's an attempt to divert blame by impugning the character of the person who spilled the beans, ergo, the whistleblower.

You yourself are using Equivocation when you used the term whistleblowers, instead of Fiers singular act of blowing the roof off their scandal.
 

InsideTheParker

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I hadn't seen this before, although it is probably somewhere in this 20-page thread:


Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez revealed an interesting tidbit Thursday, telling WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni and Fauria” that whistleblower Mike Fiers first told him about the Astros’ cheating methods before Boston played Houston in the 2018
Martinez said former Sox manager Alex Cora -- who was implicated as a key player in Houston’s scheme -- never brought any of those methods to Boston. So when Martinez was alerted by Fiers -- his former teammate at Nova Southeastern University and a close friend -- he was shocked.

“You can put me on any lie detector. You can put me on anything,” Martinez told OMF. "Alex Cora never influenced us and never told us about that thing. The only way I ever found out was in the playoffs was when Fiers, who is a really good friend of mine, reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, make sure you’re doing this because this, because this is what these guys are doing in the playoffs.’ I was like, ‘What? How is this a thing?’ And then I mentioned it to (Cora) and he told kind of me about the whole system and everything like that. That was kind of why it was so crazy. (Cora) was so relaxed going into those playoff games because he knew and we were ready for it.”
 

ifmanis5

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I wonder if Manfed's punishment had been a real hammer- wipe away the championship, ban the Astros from the playoffs for two years- if the animosity dies down a bit. Having that asterisk championship out there for all time is going to breed a lot of bad feelings.
 

YTF

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Too bad there isn't an authoritative figure within the organization that would tell these guys to STFU, show a legitimate and reasonable amount of contrition and go about their business because the sooner they do, the sooner things will begin to settle down.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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We laugh, but this is straight out of Bill Belichicks playbook. We’ve seen first hand here how this kind of “Us against the world” stuff can galvanize a team. Everybody forgets, but this is still a very talented Astros team, capable of winning a World Series. If believing the rest of the league is out to get them keeps them focused and motivated over 162, all the power to them.

No amount of contrition will make this scandal go away. They will still be booed, thrown at, and have their accomplishment questioned. Might as well embrace the hate and turn it into a team bonding experience.
 

YTF

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We laugh, but this is straight out of Bill Belichicks playbook. We’ve seen first hand here how this kind of “Us against the world” stuff can galvanize a team. Everybody forgets, but this is still a very talented Astros team, capable of winning a World Series. If believing the rest of the league is out to get them keeps them focused and motivated over 162, all the power to them.

No amount of contrition will make this scandal go away. They will still be booed, thrown at, and have their accomplishment questioned. Might as well embrace the hate and turn it into a team bonding experience.
Wasn't suggesting that the scandal's going away, but I think that their words and actions can either intensify or lessen the severity of the reaction over time. Yes I get the us against the world stuff and that's the only way they get through this, but the the blatant denials (top to bottom) and then the half-assed mea culpas to follow as well as the T-shirts, (if not those shown in this thread then others) which will surely work their way into the club house and be seen via the net are what fuels this.
 

Awesome Fossum

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Do apologies actually lessen the severity of the reaction? That's how it ought to be, but I wonder if it's true. I know this is apples and oranges, but I always think about Andy Pettitte's non-apology for his HGH use and it all blowing over relatively fast. I honestly think the Astros not apologizing and just saying they're in it to win it would have served them much better.
 

amRadio

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Trajectory looked off speed. Announcers called it as a "breaking ball" and an "offspeed that got away." Without a radar reading, hard to be certain, but no it didn't look like a fastball.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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If pitchers are going to insist on the asinine frontier justice thing and throw at Astros hitters, better to do it in spring training, no? Go ahead and give them free baserunners when the games don't count for anything.

Of course, that doesn't get their "message" across. Better to be faux tough guys when it counts for something, right?
 

Harry Hooper

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Seattle implicated in Verducci's latest:

Three months after hiring Taubman, Luhnow hired Tom Koch-Weser (Illinois ’04), who had been manager of advance information for the Seattle Mariners from 2009-13. Shortly after his hiring, Koch-Weser pulled aside Dave Trembley, a baseball lifer who was Houston’s bench coach after serving the previous season as third-base coach.

Trembley, 68, told the Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., that Koch-Weser told him, “Be careful giving signs from the bench. Last year in Seattle we played you guys 18 times and we had a camera on your bench coach and third-base coach and we had all your signs.”

Such use of technology to steal signs was illegal in baseball since 2000 under protocols established under MLB executive Sandy Alderson.
 

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There’s an anecdote in Chapter 8 of Moneyball that takes this a step further in prior precedent. Jamie Moyer is facing Scott Hatteberg. Not only does Hatteberg know what will be coming, but Moyer outright asks him (“Just tell me what you want and I’ll throw it,”) what pitch he wants to be thrown on a 2-2 count, a change up. Moyer still records the out.
 

Average Reds

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There’s an anecdote in Chapter 8 of Moneyball that takes this a step further in prior precedent. Jamie Moyer is facing Scott Hatteberg. Not only does Hatteberg know what will be coming, but Moyer outright asks him (“Just tell me what you want and I’ll throw it,”) what pitch he wants to be thrown on a 2-2 count, a change up. Moyer still records the out.
As I remember it, it's not that Hatteberg knows what's coming, it's that he has tremendous plate discipline and won't offer at (or fouls off) pitches that Moyer expected to record outs with. That's when Moyer pays him the backhanded compliment of exasperatedly yelling in "Just tell me what you want and I'll throw it."

Moyer wasn't accusing Hatteberg of stealing signs. He was accusing him of being a very selective hitter, which was (relatively) rare in those days.
 

The Gray Eagle

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MLB is finally getting ready to look at some technological solutions to prevent sign stealing.

Major League Baseball was preparing to send a delegation of innovators to spring training this month. Their mission will be to demonstrate several of the innovations they have been studying as a potential alternative to classic finger-wiggling. They’re hoping for feedback that could lead to one of these ideas being implemented someday – maybe even someday soon.
Of course a lot of players are against it:
We’d bet our Apple Watch that none of this stuff will ever happen – because most players have demonstrated almost no enthusiasm for any of it. You might think that, in the wake of Astro-gate, players would be all in for any innovation that would shut down sign-stealing forever. But if you did, you would be dead wrong.

“Nah, you don’t need it,” Nationals ace Max Scherzer said. “Part of the game is the cat and mouse. Can you crack somebody else’s signs? That’s part of the game. And I love that part of the game – and seeing if you can do it, if you can see what they’re thinking. Do you have a next-level set of signs, or do you not? And how do you work around that?”

Just so we’re clear, Scherzer is not talking about cracking somebody else’s signs the way the Astros did it – with in-game video spying and trash-can banging with nobody on base. He is talking about classic sign-cracking, the stuff that has been going on in baseball for 140 years.

But his affection for that part of the game – even after the post-Astros outrage that has erupted this spring – tells us a lot about the needle baseball is trying to thread these days. What’s the best way to respond to Astro-gate? Is it less technology? More technology? Different technology? Or some complex combination of all of the above?

The powers that be are mulling those critical questions right this minute. MLB and its players’ union are negotiating the next step as we speak.
The article lists several technological systems that will be looked at. None of them are great. But Sean Doolittle talks about a simple technological solution that seems better than any others:

“I talked to some people who had ideas about haptics, which is like the little vibrations you get on your phone,” Doolittle said. “And they were like, ‘You could do something where the catcher has something in his glove where it would be like taps, or almost like Morse code.’ And then you’d get a sequence of buzzes, and you’d be, like, ‘Two buzzes is a fastball,’ something like that.”

Glasnow is all in on that idea, too.

“I just think simple is better in my opinion,” he said. “And having it vibrate once or twice or three times, depending on your pitch, is simpler – as opposed to having to look at it and do all this – because you’re on the same page and the catcher’s on the same page. Say it gets relayed from the dugout to me. And it’s like one buzz. I go no. Two buzzes. No. Three buzzes. … Yeah. That would be great.”
That system seems to fix a lot of the problems. The catcher still calls the pitches, the pitcher gets the signal quickly, and the other fielders can get the pitch call too. A wristband that buzzes silently should be small and light. And if this system worked, it could speed the pace of play. There would be no need for the pitcher to stand there gazing in at a long series of hand gestures. Feel a couple of quick buzzes, nod, and throw.
 

OurF'ingCity

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That system seems to fix a lot of the problems. The catcher still calls the pitches, the pitcher gets the signal quickly, and the other fielders can get the pitch call too. A wristband that buzzes silently should be small and light. And if this system worked, it could speed the pace of play. There would be no need for the pitcher to stand there gazing in at a long series of hand gestures. Feel a couple of quick buzzes, nod, and throw.
I was against adding in more technology initially but I've more or less come around to something like this - it's quick, it's easy, it basically replicates what catchers/pitchers already do (instead of one finger for fastball, it would now just be one buzz or whatever), and the technology already exists to implement this easily - all it requires is something like a FitBit that the pitcher and catcher wear.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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I am just curious how location would be signaled. A bracelet on each wrist? One buzz right wrist = fastball arm side (for right handed pitcher)? Also, if the comms go down for one team, does the other team need to stop using them, too (Similar to coach-qb comms in NFL) ?
 

crow216

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I am just curious how location would be signaled. A bracelet on each wrist? One buzz right wrist = fastball arm side (for right handed pitcher)? Also, if the comms go down for one team, does the other team need to stop using them, too (Similar to coach-qb comms in NFL) ?
I'm sure any number of systems could be worked out. Think of the strikezone as 9 boxes, left column (outside to a right hander) is long buzzes, middle is short buzzes, right is two consecutive short buzzes. Then top is long, middle is short, bottom is two shorts...etc. Pitcher can nod to acknowledge then catcher moves to pitch. To save time, the catcher or coach has buttons (Long, short, double) so its just two button presses that are always consistent. Pitch selection is number of buzzes.