Trump and the Republican’ts just made a mockery of the whole democratic process, again… and somehow the press thinks we’re supposed to be worried about the Houston Astros. I will preface this by saying, no, I’m not a particular fan of the Astros. I don’t dislike them, but I’m more a fan of individual players than teams. I also love baseball, but I can’t bring myself to hate a team that did something I’ve been doing for years.
The problem, as I’m told, is this: The Houston Astros in 2017 through 2019 used video technology to steal the signs during the game. Short form: they watched it on TV. Like I said, I’ve been doing that for years. The problem is that it is “illegal” during the game. Why? I have no idea. If it’s there, use it. It’s not illegal for a runner on second base to steal signs.
Did I lose you on the signs part? Let me explain that, too. The pitcher is told what to throw each pitch by a series of hand signals from the catcher. The catcher, from his crouched position behind home plate, gives a series of fingers and points and gestures to tell the pitcher what to throw. The theory is that if the batter knows what’s coming, he’ll be able to hit it better. Ideally.
The problem is that the Astros won two World Series the past three years by stealing signs… allegedly. This has infuriated other teams and caused several Astros, who have since retired and moved on to coaching and managerial positions on other teams, to be fired. The team itself has had punishment handed down in the form of a five-million-dollar fine (read: pocket change) and no first- or second-round draft picks for the next two years. And no dessert after dinner should have been thrown in for good measure since it would be just about as effective.
Some players spoke out about it such as Atlanta outfielder Nick Markakis who said every Astro player “needs a beating.” Or Yankee Aaron Judge said that the Astros 2017 title holds no value. (Because everyone remembers who won the series two or more years ago.) Or Dodger Kenley Jansen who said this ‘scandal’ is “worse than steroids.” I have only one retort to those players.
Grow the f@@k up you whiny snots!
Granted, it’s not just me. Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon said, “At some point, we have to stop talking about it. I mean, it’s been hashed, rehashed and triple-rehashed. If you watch TV, which I don’t do a lot of but they put it on in my office — my goodness, how many different ways can you dissect this? Wounds have to heal. They have to scab over. But if you keep picking at it, it never heals. We have to get to that point where you allow the healing process to begin.” (Thank you ESPN)
And he’s right. The wound has to heal and you have to move on. Besides, is it really such a horrible thing. I mean, seriously, we can know what the signs are if we watch television carefully enough. Why aren’t they allowed to? They’re the ones playing the sport!
Let’s add to that. Do you know what pitch is coming? Spectacular! You’ve still gotta hit the ball. You could tell me, “fastball right side…” and I’m still going to miss it. And I’m currently on a prescribed steroid! If you’re reading this, you’re probably going to miss it, too. Why? The average speed of a fastball last year? 92.3 MPH! 93.4 if you’re a relief pitcher. My car doesn’t go that fast!
(Beware! Numbers are not just coming. They’re here. I’m just going to put them in perspective.)
But did knowing the signs really help? Only three Astro regulars hit over .300 with Yuli Gurriel hitting .299. (.300 is good. It means 30% of the time you got a successful base hit.) Now, the Astros are in the American League, meaning they have a designated hitter. The DH is a hitting only position so, naturally, you have a good hitter in that spot, right? The Astros, at the time, had future Hall Of Famer Carlos Beltran. He is a great hitter! How did he do? He hit .231 for the season. Apparently, no one told him what pitches were coming.
Did they his well as a team? Yes, actually. They hit .282 as a team, which is impressive. But just going through a few random years, in 2008, the Texas Rangers hit .283 and the St. Louis Cardinals hit .281. In 2007, the Detroit Tigers hit .293 and the New York Yankees hit .289. In 1998, the Colorado Rockies, Rangers and Yanks all hit over .288. Maybe all of these teams stole signs, too!
Let’s single out a particularly good year: 1927. The year the Yankees killer season. They hit .307 as a team. But that’s not all. The Pittsburgh Pirates hit .305. The A’s, who were in Philadelphia at the time, hit .304. The New York Giants hit .297. The Tigers .289. The Washington Senators (one of the last times those two words actually earned some respect) hit .287. The Chicago Cubs? .284. The Cleveland Indians hit below the league average at .283!
Dem Bums, also lovingly referred to as the Brooklyn Dodgers hit a league low .253, or a whopping two points lower than the Astros in 2018 when they were still stealing signs. That .255 was tied with Atlanta and behind Cleveland, the Cubs, Tampa Bay and Boston. Look how well that turned out for them! Knowing those signs was really helpful that year!
Did the Astos break a rule? Yes. A rule just as important as that law about racing riverboats on the Mississippi or not being allowed to have an ice cream cone in your back pocket on a Sunday. Yes, those are actual laws. You can look them up on your own.
Is it legal for a runner on second base to look at the signs and find a way to signal the batter what’s coming? Yes. Just fine. Are the first- and third-base coaches no longer trying to sneak a peek? It’s perfectly legal to do so. And I’m sure every team’s coaches do. Big deal? Nope. Even batters take a glance.
So, frankly, I can not bring myself to care about this particular infraction. I do care, however, what they’re doing to the sport. Baseball seems to have a new slogan: “Let’s dwell on the negative.” Remember, Pete Rose gambled on the game therefore he is evil. Remember, Joe Jackson took a bribe, which a court of law showed he gave back, but he is still evil. Because, yeah, a guy who hit .304 for the series was throwing the game. Remember, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens took steroids so they’re evil. Remember, the city of Houston allowed this to happen so it’s evil (apparently). Conclusion: Baseball is evil. That’s great for the ratings, isn’t it? I honestly hope they realize what they’re doing before they kill the sport altogether.