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The Astros Are Just The Moneyball of Cheating

As the Astros sign-stealing scandal continues to balloon, here are my thoughts on how to rectify the situation and get back to the game itself.

Houston Astros by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Astros Are Just The Moneyball of Cheating


Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

Last night I was yelling at my dad, as is my typical Thursday evening activity, and the boisterous discord somehow shifted to the Astros sign-stealing scandal

During my refusal to let him get a word out, combined with my incessant talking over him when he dared attempt such a slight, I stumbled upon a line of thinking that would fix this issue. 

Firstly, let me be clear. I have zero interest in this story. It just happened and I am already sick of hearing about it. My desire to rectify this injustice is purely selfish, much like every other action I take in my life.  I do not care about the moral issues of cheating or the clear unfair advantage a team would gain from such activities. I just want it to go away so I never have to read another self-righteous tweet from some ancient baseball Journalist blowhard about how deplorable it is.  My timeline is already a big enough mess. I do not require any additional nonsense.

The Ramifications

The recent actions taken to punish the offenders are all well and good but I want to reiterate, I don’t care about this.  It means nothing. People have been cheating in baseball since its onset and will continue cheating until the world is inevitably engulfed by the sun and the universe forgets we ever existed.  Previously, sign stealing was never considered cheating. However, what the Astros did was clearly above the gamesmanship of the past.

Every single team steals signs. It’s part of the game.

The punishment doled out by Commissioner Rob Manfred will not stop people from attempting to gain this type of competitive advantage.  It is the equivalent of those losers who create those computer viruses you get when you’re bored late at night looking for a little ‘free entertainment.’ In other words, the antivirus software will always lag behind the people developing the malware.

After all, MLB needs to be proactive, not reactive, if they want to actually stop this from happening again.  I know I’d take a couple year ban from just watching baseball if it meant my team would have a better chance to get a ring and I have no monetary incentive tied to it.  I’m pretty sure many people in various front offices around the league would do the same.

So What Do They Need To Do? 

Here’s my solution to this problem – best summed up by our nation’s greatest thespian: John Travolta.

In the masterpiece that is the cinematic achievement “Swordfish”, Mr. Travolta is, at first glance, a terrorist, or at the very least a bank robber. He eventually paints a picture of his true motivations. It just so happens to be the exact type of action needed to combat this threat.

See quote below (please bear with me I promise this at least made sense in my head). Let me quickly set the scene. 

Stanley ( Hugh Jackman Wolverine), our protagonist, is challenging Gabriel (Mr. Travolta) about his violent methods and assertion that he is fighting a war.  This is their exchange:

Stanley:  War? Who are we at war with?

Gabriel:  Anyone who impinges on America’s freedom.  Terrorist states, Stanley. Someone must bring their war to them.  They bomb a church, we bomb ten, they hijack a plane, we take out an airport, they execute American tourists, we tactically nuke an entire city. Our job is to make terrorism so horrific that it becomes unthinkable to attack Americans.

The terrorists are the cheaters.  Rob Manfred must be Gabriel. This is the only way they will ever successfully eliminate this type of behavior.  Instead of suspending suits after the fact, Major League Baseball needs to make the punishment so brutal that they kill it in its crib. 

My Solution

It’s very simple. Put out a press release stating that if anyone is caught doing this again it will result in a lifetime ban. When I say lifetime ban I do not just mean for the GM and Manager or any other figurehead.  I mean the entire organization, players and all. If you truly do not want this to happen again, and it really is the scourge everyone is making it out to be, this is the only course of action. I know there were players on the Astros that did not think this was something they should be doing.  With the current set of rules, there was no way they could or would speak up. You cannot rat on your own team. You would be blackballed for life. Notice how this only came to light because Mike Fiers spoke up AFTER he left the Astros.

With my new rule, if the players know that this type of cheating would destroy their careers, the whistleblowing would be swift and immediate. No one in their right mind would risk that over a few extra hits.

Taking It A Step Further

While this would presumably curtail any and all sign stealing, even the ‘legal’ kind, why not eliminate this tactic altogether? How do football coaches relay plays to their quarterbacks? Headsets. The pitcher and catcher can have something similar. It can be as simple as using the buzzer system the Astros are rumored to have employed. Give one to the catcher, one to the pitcher. One buzz for fastball, two for slider etc. etc. You can’t steal a sign if a sign does not exist. Look it up.

You could even go a step further and give all hitters headsets in their helmets. No more worrying about a team stealing your signs from the third-base coach. This doesn’t have to be that difficult. I came up with this mid-rant. In other words, if we devoted another 10 minutes to thinking more about it, I bet we could have another 20 ideas easily.

To the latter idea – some may say, ‘couldn’t teams just digitally intercept the buzzers or tap into the headset frequency or blah blah blah I don’t actually want things to get better I only want to complain!’ While I believe this to be a hollow argument, barring Belichick getting bored of coaching football and deciding to try his hand in the dugout, you can simply direct these dummies to my initial penalty. Problem solved.

Is This Reasonable?

You may think this type of action and punishment may seem too extreme or harsh.  I would agree. My point is that if we are going to act like this scandal is the worst thing to happen to baseball since the steroids and it has besmirched our holy institution, this is the type of system they need to implement.  If it seems like too much then stop talking about it. No more 2000 word think pieces on how terrible it is or how morally reprehensible you find it. Knock it off. In conclusion, I am ready to talk about actual baseball again. Therefore, let’s move on.

Pitchers and catchers report in 2 weeks.

Josh grew up in the midwest and upon graduating from the University of Iowa he wanted to see the world. After 4 years in Jacksonville he decided he was cultured enough and moved on to Birmingham England (known to the locals as the Detroit of the UK) and then west to San Francisco before settling in NYC. He pays his bills working in finance making sure the 1% remains on top. When he is not selling his soul and unable to look himself in the mirror, he spends his time writing mean things about sports while his dog, Sweet Dee, silently judges from her spot on the couch. He is very biased and never wrong. He would also like to thank Rotowire for never changing their NBA League Pass and MLB.TV passwords from that year when he was an NBA Beat Writer for the Nuggets for some reason.

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