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So the Astros 2017 title is tainted

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by rockets13champs, Nov 12, 2019.

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  1. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    "We would like this wrapped up by Spring Training"
    *Spring Training arrives* "Not by the end of this week but next week"
    "Just a little more time to inform the parties of punishment"
    "Coronavirus. Just a little more time."
    "Hopefully by the all-star game"
    "Hopefully before the World Series starts"
    "Hopefully before the Winter Meetings"
    *It is the year 2040* MLB: "We're still working on it. Should be out shortly."

     
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  2. msn

    msn Member

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    Likely trying to figure out how to spin the Red Sox doing the exact same damned thing, for the second damned time, and getting less punishment. All the preparatory leaking of soft BS seems to point to this.
     
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  3. msn

    msn Member

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  4. lw17

    lw17 Member

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    Mike Trout is an expert on Illegal Substances...........
     
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  5. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Imagine colored lights blinking on the mound. Imagine tiny earpieces, connecting pitchers with The Sign Whisperer on their bench. Imagine funky new-age wristbands, buzzing or flashing sign sequences.

    Imagine all this, and you’re imagining a world that doesn’t exist in baseball today or baseball as we’ve always known it. But hardly a day goes by anymore, on this turbulent post-Astro-gate planet we now live on, where somebody doesn’t ask this pivotal 21st-century question:

    Why are signs still being delivered to pitchers the same way they were a hundred years ago – with catchers wiggling their non-technologically enhanced fingers?

    Why, asks Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, is baseball reacting to the Astros mess by talking about shutting down access to technology? Isn’t it possible that the long-term answer to combatting sign-stealing might actually be to embrace more technology? So …

    Flashing colored light bulbs? Signs that get delivered electronically to his glove? Bring them on, Glasnow says. All of them. Or pretty much any of them.

    “I’m down,” Glasnow told The Athletic. “I really don’t care what it is, as long as it’s a pretty foolproof plan to have nobody stealing my signs. Anything is fine with me.”

    Glasnow uttered those words at a time when 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.

    But now that we’ve got your attention, it’s time for this important announcement:

    We’d bet our Apple Watch that none of this stuff will ever happen – because most players (non-Glasnow division) 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. So what are some of the alternatives being kicked around – and how are players reacting to them? We asked a group of bright, opinionated players those very questions. Here is what we found:

    The light show

    Want to see your ace’s true colors shining through? This is the plan for you.

    Picture four tiny colored lights buried in the dirt in front of the pitcher’s rubber. A red one. A yellow one. A green one. A blue one. They’re dug in just deep enough, and hidden with blinders just large enough, that only the pitcher can see them.

    How do they work? In combination with those wiggling fingers, not instead of those fingers. So before staring in for the sign, the pitcher peers at the dirt. Let’s say the second light – the yellow bulb – blinks. That’s telling the pitcher that the second sign in the catcher’s sequence is the indicator, the pitch he actually wants thrown. But the hitter can’t see it. The runner on second can’t see it. The code-breakers in the video room can’t see it. It’s theoretically secure … and definitely colorful.

    “Wow, I think it could be cool, to pitch like you’re on a stage and you’ve got different lights coming up underneath you,” Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle said. “That’s what I’m picturing. Can we leave it on while we’re pitching? That could be pretty trippy.”

    Uh, sorry. The goal here is not to replicate a Lady Gaga show. The idea is just to disguise the signs.

    Advantages: Keeps the catcher involved as the primary pitch-caller, by also allowing him to pick which light to flash. Maintains the pitcher-catcher relationship. Requires no Wi-Fi connection. And should be fairly crack-proof.

    Disadvantages: Doesn’t move the technological needle. Clearly the most expensive option. Might not save much, or any, time. Wouldn’t allow the middle infielders to know the pitch or anticipate where the ball is likely to be hit. And the paranoia gripping pitchers’ psyches these days is telling them lots could still go wrong.

    “What happens if we get technical difficulties with the lights?” Glasnow wondered. “Or does it obstruct my landing? I don’t know the whole ins and outs with it. It just seems like it’s kind of over-complicating it.”

    “It seems extreme,” Doolittle said. “And my conspiracy brain is also worried about drones and people in the upper deck of stadiums. It just seems extreme. It seems like an elaborate way of what we basically did in the World Series against the Astros, where we had an index card with five sets of signs, and each night the order changed.”

    That is, in fact, exactly what the light show is designed to accomplish. It’s just a colorful way to replace those cards pitchers have been stuffing inside their caps. One executive we spoke with this spring actually predicted this system could be in place within a year. But there are such mixed opinions of it, in both clubhouses and front offices, that that seems highly unlikely.
     
  6. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    Up to their ears

    The NFL has been delivering signals to quarterbacks through an earpiece in their helmets for more than a quarter-century. But baseball keeps delivering signs to pitchers with wiggling fingers, year after year, decade after decade, century after century. Which is pretty much the most baseball thing ever.

    We know the technology exists to change that, by transmitting those signs directly into their eardrums, via some sort of earpiece. Did you catch any of those ESPN all-access games last week? How do you think Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were talking to the booth (and to each other) in the middle of a game anyway? Via lip-reading?

    Well, obviously, this same technology could be used to call pitches. Pitchers, catchers and middle infielders would likely have a small earpiece just like the TV crews wear – and just like Rizzo and Bryant wore – snaking up the back of their shirts. And signs would almost have to be given from the bench or an upstairs booth, much like the NFL, by a pitching coach or pitching coordinator. It seems, on the surface, like a simple technology, and one that the NFL has proven can already work.

    But would pitchers actually wear these things? The feedback we got – and that Major League Baseball has gotten – is a resounding (though not unanimous) no.

    “I don’t know if I want to pitch with an earpiece in,” the Dodgers’ David Price said, emphatically echoing the sentiments of almost every pitcher we’ve ever asked about this – with one exception.

    “I think I would enjoy having, like, an earpiece in,” Glasnow said. “That would be fine with me – although it might be tough pitching with something like that.”

    Pitchers are creatures of comfort and routine. Wearing an earpiece might mess with both. But if they’re open-minded, they should at least look at the pros and cons.

    Advantages: Communicating via earpieces is quick and direct. Infinitely simpler than trying to decode lights, indicators or the complex assortment of modern signs. And have we mentioned the NFL has done it this way for over 25 years?

    Disadvantages: Unlike the NFL, there would be no helmets to house the earpieces, so they’d have to drape over the ear somehow. Would also require wearing a belt-pack receiver. Dramatically alters the pitcher-catcher zen-state relationship by shifting sign-calling away from catchers. And that’s an issue.

    “Baseball,” Scherzer said, “is meant to be the catcher gives the signs.”

    “It’s a good idea, but the hitter is right there,” Doolittle said. “The catcher can’t be saying, like, `All right. Fastball away. Try to get it at the belt. And if you’re going to miss, miss off the plate.’ Unless you come up with code words – like quarterbacks have audibles at the line of scrimmage. But in football, the defense is literally a yard away. And they’re yelling out plays. In baseball, I think there are less options. And you have a slimmer playbook. … And also you’re doing it 150, maybe 200 times, over the course of a game. You would need an awful lot of audibles.

    “So I don’t know. That’s one of the things where, in theory, it falls under the category, for me, of good in theory, but I just don’t know if it would work in practice.”

    Look who’s watch-ing

    We live in a technologically advanced time, don’t we? So here’s the question: If your spouse can send a message to that gizmo on your wrist, asking you to pick up toilet paper on the way home, then why can’t your catcher or your pitching coach send a message to that same gizmo on your wrist that says: Great time to bury a fastball on the outside corner?

    This is an idea that’s being tested in college programs, has been heavily promoted by some of the advanced new-age baseball think tanks and has even been shown to big leaguers in spring training as recently as last year. So it’s an idea worth exploring, right?

    “No,” said the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, without even letting us get through a question about it. “That’s out. I don’t want to wear a watch when I pitch. This isn’t a good idea. I’m not doing that.”

    Kershaw does admit he’s frustrated by how much time it can take to give signs in an age of ramped-up sign-stealing. So he conceded: “There’s probably some technological advancement you can make, which I’m not opposed to. I just don’t think we’re close yet. I haven’t heard a good idea yet.”

    So isn’t it at least possible that the Apple Watch could be that good idea, if employed properly? Let’s think it through.

    Advantages: Secure and technologically hip. Could be pre-programmed with multiple ways for each pitcher to attack each opposing hitter. Definitely looks cooler than those clunky earpieces.

    Disadvantages: Pitchers complain that watches feel bulky. Would require pushing tiny buttons to signal or change pitches. Comes with big technological challenges: The screen constantly dims to save battery life. Would require Apple to develop a customized operating system, which is unlikely in the near future. Requires a unique and secure Wi-Fi connection, unlike approved dugout iPads, which have Wi-Fi capability shut off. And, of course, what happens if the battery dies with the bases loaded some night?

    Despite all of those challenges, we at least found pitchers who were open-minded about this one.

    “That would be sweet,” Glasnow said. “I would do that.”

    “I don’t hate it,” Doolittle said. “My 2020 conspiracy brain is not letting me get on board with this fully because I’m worried about hackers. But I do think that so far, of all the things I’ve heard, that would be the closest [to what] we have. I’d be open to trying that.”

    If the glove fits …

    And now a similar idea, but one that could be modified so players wouldn’t have to wear a clunky device on their wrist. What about a Fitbit or Fitbit-type device that could snap onto, or attach to, a pitcher’s glove? Given how small a device we’re talking about, it’s likely that signs would be called from the dugout. But size, flexibility and battery life would probably make this variation more workable than the Apple Watch, at least for now.

    “I think those two are almost the same exact idea,” Doolittle said. “It’s just a matter of whether the guy wants to wear a strap on his wrist or whether he wants to anchor it to his glove. You could be standing on the mound and you could have the thing here and you could say, ‘No, [I don’t want that pitch],’ and it sends you another one. So yeah, that’s good.”

    Advantages: Because it could be attached to a glove, would be less distracting. And could speed up the game, both with a quick relaying of the next sign and by simplifying the process – so a pitcher could have the sign within 10 seconds of getting the ball back and could theoretically then go right into his delivery.

    Disadvantages: Carries some of the same technological challenges as the watch. Would add weight on the wrist or glove, depending on where it was worn. And, like some of these other ideas, would alter the pitcher-catcher connection by having signs called from the bench. Which is a problem for both pitchers and catchers.

    “I’m not big on bringing technology onto the field,” Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “I think once you get to the field, it should be your physical ability against my physical ability – and mental ability. … Personally, I think that once you start bringing electronics in, it kind of takes away from the game, the way it’s been played since Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson and Lou Gehrig. I mean, I get it. All the scouting reports and stuff, I think that’s great. But once it’s on the field, it kind of takes away from the game of baseball where you’re a kid, you’re playing it, and I’m better than you, and that’s why I’m beating you. It’s not, ‘Oh, I’ve got this secret set of signs, and that’s why I’m beating you.’”

    It’s hard to argue with the concept, that that’s what baseball is all about. The question is whether technology such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, used for this specific purpose, fundamentally changes that. Glasnow, for one, doesn’t think so.

    “I’m on that 100 percent,” he said of wearables. “I think that’s a great idea. Not like the idea of looking at signs is outdated. It’s just there’s too many variables. There are too many things that are out of my control. … I like that whole pastime-ey thing about baseball, because there are so many rules being changed with baseball that it’s like, ‘Don’t change it too much.’ But I think stuff like Apple Watches are fine – because there’s a reason for it.”
     
  7. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    Wristbands and haptics

    Finally, there’s one more idea that will be shown to players when MLB arrives in spring training this month. It’s a wristband with a rotating dial. On that dial are numbers from 1 to 5 that change randomly every 15 seconds. And much like the colored lights, if the number on the dial is a “3,” it means the third sign is the pitch call. If it’s a “5,” it means the fifth sign is the call. Pitchers, catchers and infielders would have their dials all synced up before each game, so they would know what was coming, but the opposition would have no way to decipher that.

    Advantages: Requires no Wi-Fi connection or complex technology. Would be the most lightweight option. Virtually hack-proof. And allows catchers to continue calling pitches.

    Disadvantages: Like the light show, offers no potential for technological innovation. And wouldn’t even be legal under current rules (which could be changed, of course).

    Players aren’t familiar with this idea, so they won’t be able to react to it until they see it. But this whole family of proposals has Doolittle thinking about an area that he – and other pitchers – think has definite potential.

    “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.”

    But that just leads us to the most important question of all:

    Is technology the answer? Or the problem?

    Sooner or later, we all need to figure this out. Should baseball be running away from this sort of technology? Or is now the time for this sport to lean into it more than ever and use these creative 21st-century innovations to solve its sign-stealing issues forever – or at least until the hackers figure out how to infiltrate this assortment of Fitbits and flashing lights?

    What do these players we’ve surveyed want to see happen? They’re conflicted because of course they are. They want to embrace technology, but they’ve seen firsthand that technology has its messy side.

    Doolittle: “It’s like ‘1984.’ Is more technology actually good? I don’t know. It makes me nervous because I think one thing we’ve learned from the Astros scandal and the Red Sox investigation is, were we just really naïve? Was it only a matter of time before a team or a club or personnel started using all these camera angles to cheat and try to get a leg up? Would it only be a matter of time before people figure out how to hack an Apple Watch? I don’t know. And I hate that this is where my brain works now. But I’m cautious about putting more technology into the field of play.”

    Glasnow: “I just think it’s stupid to close out [all technology]. Like why would you do that? The game is growing organically that way, and it brings in a whole ’nother demographic of people who enjoy baseball – through the technology side of things. So I feel like for them to just shut it off is a terrible idea.”

    Suzuki: “I’m not like this smart, genius guy. But to me, it’s simple. Just don’t show the catcher giving signs [on TV]. That’s the easiest way to do it. All this Apple Watch, colors, lights – nobody’s going to pick up your signs if they don’t see ’em. It’s impossible to do. Unless you have a guy literally in center field the whole game, looking at the catcher’s signs with binoculars, looking at his combinations, writing it down on paper, you’re not gonna get the signs. … I mean, what fans need to see the catcher putting down signs? They don’t need to see that. They just need to see the pitcher throw and the guy hit it.”

    But even the seemingly simple solutions – just don’t show the catcher giving signs – aren’t as easy as they appear. Players have pushed for that option as a way to curb in-game sign-stealing while still leaving players a way to watch video of their at-bats or pitch selection. But networks and RSNs have pushed back, saying that televising a baseball game without showing the catcher is actually incredibly hard to do. As always, it’s more complicated than it appears.

    Scherzer: “Just because we had a scandal doesn’t mean we have to completely uproot baseball. I mean, we had a steroid scandal, and we still have the fences where they were. In fact, we moved the fences in.”

    But wasn’t the Astros scandal a sign that the game was broken – so how could MLB not try to fix it?

    More Scherzer: “No. I don’t think the game was broken. There were just bad actors.”

    So how, he was asked, can he be confident we won’t see any more bad actors?

    “Because we’re going to revise the rules,” he said, speaking not just as one of baseball’s biggest stars but also as a member of the sport’s rules committee. “So that trying to go down the path of stealing signs, and relaying them in real time, just won’t be possible. Because once you rule that out, then it’s just baseball again.”

    That’s all they ask, all right. Can’t it just be baseball again? But in this world of code breakers and sign stealers, Fitbit makers and light-show designers, is that even possible?

    We don’t know that answer. But the next time you see a catcher wiggling those fingers, you should understand that he isn’t only giving signs. He’s symbolizing the fight over an age-old baseball ritual that may – or may not – need to evolve with these intricate technological times.

    “No, that’s part of the game,” Scherzer says. “I don’t want to get rid of that. Using fingers to communicate, that’s how it’s been for 100 years. And that’s how it should always be.”
     
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  8. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

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    If the Astros were the only team cheating seems like you wouldn’t need a solution to prevent it.
     
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  9. donkeypunch

    donkeypunch Contributing Member

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    "Thanks to the cheating Asterisks, my team has to go away from the tradition of real baseball and how its supposed to be played."
     
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  10. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

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    Thats a real quote? ****.
     
  11. SemisolidSnake

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    I read or skimmed through all of that article. Thanks for posting it, J.R. There's too much to quote and respond to. At least right now. Holy **** does Scherzer sounds like an idiot, though. Glasnow sounds like a completely sensible person. Most of the league isn't into adding tech to solve this?

    I feel like I'm listening to modern people defend the British for lining up to fire during the Revolutionary War because that was the honorable, proper way to fight. And cursing Washington and his troops for using effective guerilla tactics.

    If the League and most of its players are actually stuck on this idea that the answer to overwhelming cutting-edge technology completely surrounding them is to NOT use some fairly simple technology to solve that problem, well, then MLB really does deserve to be relegated further and further into the obscurity it's already been cultivating for decades.
     
  12. donkeypunch

    donkeypunch Contributing Member

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    No. Just bitch ass fans that I could see saying it.
     
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  13. RayRay10

    RayRay10 Houstonian
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    Yep, Scherzer's quotes were craziness. We'll make a rule that stops this and nothing else needs to be done. In fact, we should go back in time 80 years and play baseball like that. (paraphrasing)

    But then, that's the problem with having a guy like him, with as much success as he's had, on the rules committee. He doesn't want anything to change because he's had a great career...screw everyone else, they should just do it like him...either that, or the Nats have their own way of "cheating" and kind of want to sweep this under the rug so they can continue on with it. Suzuki was saying basically the same thing as Scherzer so they seem to be on the same page.

    But, it's time to bring baseball into the modern era. I honestly wish they wouldn't even make rules regarding sign stealing. Sign stealing, even during live action, has been around forever. If you're getting your signs stolen, that's on you.
     
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  14. awc713

    awc713 Member
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  15. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    I was just thinking that the one bright side of this is no one is talking about the Stros cheating anymore.
     
  16. marks0223

    marks0223 Astros STILL 2017 Champions
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  17. AstrosRockets1818

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    It’s 5:08pm on Sunday March 15, 2020 and The Houston Astros are 2017 World Series Champions.
     
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  18. RKREBORN

    RKREBORN Member

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    I miss the days of only worrying about the Astros
     
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  19. jim1961

    jim1961 Member

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    What days were those?
     
  20. phasors28

    phasors28 Member

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    PreCorona and Pre Bill O’Brien
     
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