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The Sign Stealing Scandal as it stands today


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Obviously there’s still a lot we don’t know. 

We do know the Astros were cheating in 2017 during the regular season using a trashcan to relay what pitches were coming to the batter. From postseason 2017 till now, we don’t know what system they used. We don’t whether they had a road system or only a home one. We don’t know whether they were able to use a system during the playoffs. There have been suggestions that signs were relayed to the bullpen where someone would then relay the pitch to the batter, but that is only a rumor. 

Given reports out today that the Red Sox were cheating in 2018, there can be no doubt that this was going on in 2018-2019, if there ever was. 

Also, while it has been speculated on before now that other teams were cheating similarly to the Astros, my view was that whatever was going on around the league seemed to be used the most and with the most sophistication in method by the Astros. I didn’t want to speculate too much without evidence, although there were always other teams that seemed likely candidates for cheating. 

The report today suggests basically what I suspected: That the Astros were doing it more extensively than anyone else (at least as far as what we know at this point). The Red Sox reportedly only had a system to use the signs when runners were on base. Their system apparently used the normal method of the runner on second base relaying info to the batter. What makes it cheating was the fact that he wasn’t stealing signs legitimately, he already knew what each of the signs meant. Allegedly, per the article, the Red Sox were unable to use this system in the playoffs. Allegedly. We could speculate on why they did less than the Astros, but we really don’t know. 

How widespread was this? While we can’t be certain, based on the information we have, I think we can make some educated guesses. Whoever was doing it, it seems to be a relatively recent practice. As in, 2017 is the earliest we have evidence. Maybe 2016 some may have been dabbling with it? It could be earlier, but I think if the Astros only started in 2017 and the Red Sox were linked to it after Cora came over in 2018, I doubt it was going on much before that. 2015 would be the absolute earliest, and I’d be skeptical of that without more evidence or some kind of demonstration of a team improving significantly.

It doesn’t appear anyone else was doing it to the degree the Stros were, but a great many may be using illegal methods comparable to the Red Sox. One quote from an “AL executive” said that players would come from a team that was using this and would tell their new team they needed to get with the program because “everyone is doing it” these days. (There’s an obvious player and team that that points to if you think about it, but I’ll see if anyone guesses it first).

I think at the very least, any team that seems like it is performing unexpectedly better than seems reasonable on offense is suspected, those who have been particularly good in general in recent years, and are any that are known for being on the frontline of data, analytics, and technology. Off the top of my head, beyond the Astros and Red Sox, I’m fairly confident the Yankees were doing it also. The Rangers and Brewers have been linked to it in the past. There have been suggestions I’ve read that the Dodgers, Indians, and Twins may have been involved in some way as well. 

For what it’s worth, based on the comment that some teams still aren’t doing it, I really doubt the Angels are. I’m not convinced that the Cubs under Maddon were either, but I'm less confident on that. 

Where do we go from here? Word is that players will not be punished per the article I read today. Front office guys and coaches likely will be, though, along with organization punishments (fines, etc.) I get it with players. They have a strong union, they’re being told that everyone is doing it, and since it’s basically entire teams doing together, I’m not sure how you even would punish them, tbh. 

Since more teams are now being shown to have been involved in this to one degree or another, I wonder how that will affect the Astros’ punishment. There is this comment from Passan today, that’s worth taking note of:

So where does the league go from here? Sign stealing has always been part of the game, but I suspect that time is essentially over. Now that the tech scheme is out of the bag, I don’t see any way we get back to old-school sign-stealing again. 

Obviously the league needs to be harsh if they want to actually deter this. Because right now, if they get a slap on the wrist, it’s open season on cheating. Teams will continue trying until the punishments are severe enough to disincentivize it. The risk has to be greater than the potential reward. 

Another possibility that could come down soon is earpieces to relay signs, similar to football. It’s been talked about in the past, but this situation may give it traction.

Regardless, though, teams - particularly individual pitchers and catchers - need to protect themselves. It’s on them if signs get stolen. We’ve already seen this to some degree this postseason with more elaborate signs and systems being used. Whether the cheaters get punished severely or not, unless the earpiece system gets approved (I’m skeptical, but who knows?) the players need to make sure they’re covered. Otherwise, now that they have no excuse for ignorance about what’s going on, they have no excuse for being careless. 

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As for the players not getting punished, while that sort of sucks since they're actually the ones that took advantage of the system, it's understandable.  Guessing the league was able to get an accurate account of what was going on by giving the players immunity in exchange for full cooperation with the investigation.

 

When all this stuff first came out, my guess was Reddick was a central figure.  Don't know if that's who you're referring to.  Obviously Beltran has been mentioned in relation to everything for a while.

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My original thought was player suspensions, loss of draft picks or international moneys.. but nothing TOO drastic. However, after the Red Sox adding another log on the fire bring the previous 2 WS champs before this year under the microscope, i think it will be much harsher than my original thoughts.  It has to be at this point to be anything more than a minor irritation.
I wouldn't be shocked to see them lose first round picks and supplemental picks, forfeit all international moneys, and 90 day or longer bans for those proven involved and possibly bans for those masterminding it (Cora).
I dont see them banning anyone from post season play or anything like that, but they are going to have to hit hard or it will just become more common, not less. 

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@Pancake Bear

Obviously the league needs to be harsh if they want to actually deter this. Because right now, if they get a slap on the wrist, it’s open season on cheating. Teams will continue trying until the punishments are severe enough to disincentivize it. The risk has to be greater than the potential reward. 

 

The only fair way to punish the Red Sox and Astros is to make them hand over those championship trophies to the Dodgers for 2017 & 2018. 

Is that considered Angelswin treason?

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1 minute ago, RendZone said:

@Pancake Bear

Obviously the league needs to be harsh if they want to actually deter this. Because right now, if they get a slap on the wrist, it’s open season on cheating. Teams will continue trying until the punishments are severe enough to disincentivize it. The risk has to be greater than the potential reward. 

The only fair way to punish the Red Sox and Astros is to make them hand over those championship trophies to the Dodgers for 2017 & 2018. 

Is that considered Angelswin treason?

You know what, as much as I hate the Dodgers and trust me, the hate is deep within my inner core.... I actually agree with you. 

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3 minutes ago, RendZone said:

@Pancake Bear

Obviously the league needs to be harsh if they want to actually deter this. Because right now, if they get a slap on the wrist, it’s open season on cheating. Teams will continue trying until the punishments are severe enough to disincentivize it. The risk has to be greater than the potential reward. 

 

The only fair way to punish the Red Sox and Astros is to make them hand over those championship trophies to the Dodgers for 2017 & 2018. 

Is that considered Angelswin treason?

If, as the Rosenthal/Drellich article today suggested, the Red Sox didn’t cheat in the 2018 playoffs, the benefit they derived was primarily regular season. That’s a big if, obviously, but even if they did, who is to say 1) that whoever the Red Sox beat to get the WS might not have beaten the Dodgers if there was no cheating, or 2) that the Dodgers weren’t cheating as well?

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Well @Chuckster70 and @RendZone you two will be disappointed. It’s going to be manager suspensions for the year, loss of draft picks and international money for a few years.  Last but not least I think the GM will get a lifetime ban.  That will prevent those from happening again organizationally.  They’ll add something to the affect of if you are in the front office and you let the league know your team was cheating without your knowledge then you’ll get to save your job. 

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26 minutes ago, Kevinb said:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s the steroid scandal all over again. I imagine a good amount of people/teams are doing it. If it’s your favorite player or team you’ll say no way was it my team or player. But you’ll say everyone else was except my team/player. 

I think it’s possible the Angels were. All I’ll say, though, is nothing has connected them explicitly to it unlike a lot of other teams, and the article today said there were still a number of teams not involved. Based on that, I assume we weren’t, but we’ll obviously wait and see if more comes out. 

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1 minute ago, Stradling said:

Well @Chuckster70 and @RendZone you two will be disappointed. It’s going to be manager suspensions for the year, loss of draft picks and international money for a few years.  Last but not least I think the GM will get a lifetime ban.  That will prevent those from happening again organizationally.  They’ll add something to the affect of if you are in the front office and you let the league know your team was cheating without your knowledge then you’ll get to save your job. 

I'm fine with that too. 

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40 minutes ago, ADHB said:

As for the players not getting punished, while that sort of sucks since they're actually the ones that took advantage of the system, it's understandable.  Guessing the league was able to get an accurate account of what was going on by giving the players immunity in exchange for full cooperation with the investigation.

 

When all this stuff first came out, my guess was Reddick was a central figure.  Don't know if that's who you're referring to.  Obviously Beltran has been mentioned in relation to everything for a while.

Look at players who left Houston the last couple of years and whose new team did suspiciously well. 

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16 minutes ago, RendZone said:

@Pancake Bear

Obviously the league needs to be harsh if they want to actually deter this. Because right now, if they get a slap on the wrist, it’s open season on cheating. Teams will continue trying until the punishments are severe enough to disincentivize it. The risk has to be greater than the potential reward. 

 

The only fair way to punish the Red Sox and Astros is to make them hand over those championship trophies to the Dodgers for 2017 & 2018. 

Is that considered Angelswin treason?

The teams (and players) should at the very least be required to give back all of the money earned during the playoffs.

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