The Houston Astros of Major League Baseball have been investigated and found guilty of stealing signs to benefit their players in the 2017 and 2018 baseball seasons. Coaches and management staff have been relieved of their positions in the Astros’ organization. At this point, current and former Houston Astros players from those 2017 and 2018 seasons are getting ready for Spring Training with their current professional teams. Some have held press conferences to profess their guilt and offer their apologies. Others have taken to social media to type their feelings or give their accounts of the actions to reach millions of followers on their pages. To be fair, some of the players seem genuine and are openly talking about their involvement being a negative and that they screwed up, etc. etc. Others have left the door wide open for criticism because their apologies seem hollow, scripted, and down right patronizing to the game of baseball.
The Astros stole signs their opponent’s catcher was flashing to the pitcher, then relayed those signs to a dugout area representative, who then relayed the signs to the hitter at plate. If you know what pitch you are about to face, sometimes it makes it easier to hit. The art of pitching is deception, throwing off timing by using a variety of speeds and locations. Otherwise, every professional hitter would bat .750 and the runs scored would be in the 30s and40s every game. Ever watch batting practice or Home Run Derby on TV? Yep, that would be the scenario if a batter knew the pitch ahead of time.
The Major League baseball player responses were bound to follow. Players of all abilities, positions, and egos have “tweeted” and held press conferences and stood in front of lockers to offer their rebuttals. They have stated that the Astros wins should be vacated, that their World Series win should be vacated, MVP awards should be subject to a recount, players should be and need to be punished. Some players have suggested, on camera, that Astros players should be hit, should be plunked, should be knocked down. Some players have suggested an “Eye for an Eye” approach to playing the Astros this season. The concept of an “Eye for an Eye” comes from Mosaic Law in the Bible and states basically “the punishment must fit the crime and there should be a just penalty for evil actions: “If there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… the laws of retaliation from a point in time so distant that we can’t even put a year to it. The modern day, Professional Baseball player with 99 mph fastball who can throw a ball in a square roughly 12″ x 12″ with 95% accuracy and has an AGENDA to retaliate against an opponent who cheated is a Gigantic Slippery Slope for the 2020 Major League Baseball Season. Having been hit by baseballs in the shin, in the arm, in the chest, in the thigh, in the ass for close to 50 years as a player, parent, and coach I can honestly state – it is not a pleasant experience. A hardball or standard issue baseball is a object that can cause bruising, swelling, and potentially a very serious injury. An injury inflicted upon a player on purpose because of a personal or professional agenda embodies the eye for an eye principle. But who comes out on top after that? Have you gotten your revenge against the Astros or whomever you hit if you plunk them in the butt Game 1 of the season? What message are you sending to young 12 year old Tommy in the front row watching the game?
How far down the chain will this Eye for an Eye principle fall? Will minor league affiliates be given the green light to hit minor league players associated with the Astros or other teams that are being investigated for sign stealing? How about collegiate teams who are found to have a sign stealing scandal? Will other college teams take this eye for an eye approach and hand out blazing fastball punishments? How about the high school and middle school athletes? Will a HS coach order a “plunking” to another team if they deem the other team is stealing signs? Just last summer, the NH 12U team accused our local representatives Barrington Little League of stealing signs. If they face each other again this summer or in AAU competition, will the NH Coach order his pitcher to retaliate against a Barrington player? Would about the average 12 to 15 game schedule for a 12U, 11U, 10U player in their local youth baseball league? Will the Major League Baseball players “Eye for an Eye” policy of policing those who wronged the game filter down to the local youth baseball parks in Narragansett, Coventry, Smithfield, Warren, Little Compton, Pawtucket, and Newport?
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association botched this Houston Astros sign stealing investigation to the Nth degree. They suspended managers and management, who were subsequently fired. Again, to date (February 21, 2020) the players have not been suspended or fined or disciplined for their involvement in the sign stealing scandal. Maybe those suspensions will come in due time. In the short term, the players are warming up, stretching, running, hitting batting practice, taking fielding practice, and getting ready for Opening Day 2020 and the 2020 season. They have had their press conferences and now have heard the responses. They are now rebutting the rebuttals from other players. So far, it has been a lot of talk and chatter between Astros players and the “Eye for an Eye” group on other teams. Houston Astros new Manager Dusty Baker has asked for calm and for others not to retaliate by hitting his players. If MLB and the players association does not step in and do something drastic to satisfy fans, players, and other organizations, the Astros players will get hit and hit often by opposing pitchers.
Here are some final thoughts:
- You can’t vacate the World Series win because players in the steroid era, the spitball era, the pine tar on the baseball era all cheated the game. Some of those players were on teams that won the World Series. If we went back in time and reviewed every World Series winner, they would most likely have one player on their team who did something illegal or immoral that “cheated” the other team. And we can’t just take the World Series trophy and give it to the other team.
- Professional baseball players are paid to play the game with respect and dignity and with fairness. If you really want to send a message that the players need to be held accountable, fine each player from the 2017 Houston Astros team the sum of one season’s salary. If they refuse to pay the fine, suspend them until they do. The same fine can be levied on other teams. If you have to pay a $15 million dollar fine for stealing signs, what is the likelihood you will do it again? And what message will that send to other players?
- If you call out to the world that you are going to hit someone from the Astros because they stole signs, and you go ahead with the plunking of an Astros player because of your personal agenda against them, you will be suspended 50 games. Make a statement that you can beat the Astros fair and square, don’t hit them, strike them out!!!!
- Completely tongue and cheek final thought – put a camera on the Astros catcher and broadcast it on the Big Screen at your ballpark. Focus specifically on the catcher’s fingers and the signs the catcher is giving to the pitcher on every single pitch. Every pitch show the entire stadium what the catcher is doing. Or make the Astros catcher tell the batter what pitch is coming, sort of like Crash Davis did in Bull Durham. “When you speak of me, speak well,” utter Davis as he told a batter what was coming.
Someone in Major League Baseball has to emerge as a leader in this potentially dangerous “Eye for an Eye” upcoming season. Batters will get hit and hurt, some of them potentially seriously hurt. Some may lose their jobs due to injuries caused by getting hit by a pitch. Benches will clear and fights will break out on the field and maybe in the stands, at the hotels the players are staying at, in the family suites with wives fighting wives. Where does it end? Who wins with this type of retaliation? The Astros (and others yet to be outed) stole signs and were caught. To me, the best way to get back at them is to make 1000% sure your team is prepared to beat them fair and square on the field. The best thing to happen to the Astros is they finish LAST place and are disgraced on the field, the right way.
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