MLB Ventures Into Uncharted Territory

All change is not for the good.  Technological advances in image capture and recording have had lots of positive influences in society; now we hear that the Houston Astros may have used cameras and video links in 2017 to steal signals from opposing teams.  Major League Baseball has “launched an investigation”.  The basis of these charges comes from a player on the 2017 Astros team that won the World Series and three other unidentified people who were/are with the team.  That would seem like a lot of damning evidence right there.

Opposing teams have reacted in very predictable ways; if you read reports about how other teams view this matter, please do not expect to be surprised.  Spoiler Alert: None of the opponents likes the idea.  Of course, MLB will investigate; but I wonder if there is a viable endgame to such an investigation.  There is no direct precedent for MLB to draw on here.  Let me assume that all the allegations are provably correct, what happens then?

  • For the last big “cheating event” in baseball – the Black Sox scandal in 1919 – punishments went to the players and not the team.  That punishment was lifetime banishment from baseball – – but once you get past the “cheating” aspect of the two cases, there are not a ton of parallels.
  • The team had to be involved in the activities that are alleged here and not just the players.  How does MLB punish a team meaningfully?  Put an asterisk next to that World Series championship.  Oooh, there’s a deterrent against future malefactors…

Once this is proven to have happened to the satisfaction of MLB, the problem has only just begun because the “penalty phase” of this saga has no blazed trail or mapped coordinates for the poohbahs to follow.  I know there needs to be punishment here and it must be something more than a slap on the wrist.  But what it should be and to whom or what it should be applied will provide interesting reading down the line…

There is a current rule on the books as of Feb 2019 making it illegal in baseball to use technology to steal signs.  The allegations here are from the 2017 season so that rule was not on the books then.  One of the cornerstones of US jurisprudence is that one cannot be punished by an ex post facto law…

Given the presence of the new rule for baseball, it seems to say that stealing signs is OK if you do it visually or audibly, but not OK if you use any sort of tech gadgetry in the process.  Notwithstanding any of the allegations here, does that make sense to you?  The “sin” in sign stealing is in the technique and not the act itself?

Shifting gears…  Week 16 of the NFL season got a makeover from the NFL yesterday when the league announced a change in the scheduled times of 3 games.  There will be a triple header on Saturday December 21st:

  • 1:00PM EST:  Texans at Bucs
  • 4:30PM EST:  Bills at Patriots
  • 8:00PM EST:  Rams at Niners

These three games will be telecast on NFL Network and that makes this switch a bit surprising.

  • Except for the Bucs, the other 5 teams involved in these games would seem to have playoff possibilities even at that late stage of the season.  That means the NFL has taken 3 meaningful games off broadcast TV where there are a lot of eyeballs to drive ratings and put those games on NFLN which has a smaller and limited audience as a premium cable channel.
  • I can’t imagine that the NFL’s “broadcast partners” are happy to lose these three games and to be left with the likes of Bengals/Dolphins or Jags/Falcons or Giants/Skins.

Maybe it was that scintillating 34-27 win over the NY Giants last week that prompted Christopher Johnson to declare that Adam Gase will not only finish out the 2019 season as the head coach of the NY Jets; in addition, Gase will be the Jets’ head coach in 2020.  There had been more than a little speculation in the NY tabloids that Gase could be “one-and-done” in NY; that is put to rest.

The Jets’ owner – Woody Johnson – is not part of the team for the moment; he is “otherwise engaged” as the US Ambassador to the UK; that is why his brother, Christopher, is in charge and it was Christopher who made this proclamation.  As part of the announcement, Johnson said of Adam Gase:

“He’s a good man; he’s a good coach.”

Let me unpack that statement:

  • I have no idea if Adam Gase is a good man.  For all I know, he could be the male equivalent of Mother Teresa – – or he could be a reincarnation of Jeffrey Dahmer.  It is not likely that I will ever know enough about him as a man to place him on that spectrum.
  • Here is what I do know.  Adam Gase is 25-32 as an NFL head coach and Adam Gase is 2-7 as the head coach of the NY Jets.
  • He had a mediocre roster in Miami and produced mediocre results there – – 23 wins and 25 losses.  Ho-hum…
  • He has a very thin roster in NY this year and the team is taking its lumps at 2-7.
  • It is probably too soon to know if Adam Gase is a “good coach”; he has never had the team resources to manage in a way that would shed light on that issue.

Finally, let me leave you with a definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

“Choked up:  To be stricken with an onrush of tearful emotion that is just barely kept at bay.  A condition used to great effect by lying scumbags who want people to think they are actually repentant when being interviewed by 60 Minutes.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “MLB Ventures Into Uncharted Territory”

  1. I’m not much of a baseball fan Curmudge, but my take on sign stealing (which has been part of baseball forever) is:

    One. No technology of ANY kind may be used.


    Two. Only players/staff currently on the field of play (that includes the dugout and bullpen) are allowed to do so. This precludes some staff member in the outfield stands with binoculars and semaphore flags. 😉

    Perhaps one of your other readers has some insight or probably a better version?


    1. Bones:

      People generally consider “stealing” to be a “bad thing”. However, in baseball, it seems to be “acceptable” under certain circumstances but “horribly wrong” in other circumstances. Interesting…

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