I think like a lot of folks around baseball – including many in the sport – I’ve been feeling really, really naive the past week with just how deep the Astros sign-stealing bullshit went back in 2017 (and presumably long before that and right up through this year’s World Series).
I mean, I knew – we knew – they were doing some things the last few years that were probably shady in a variety of spaces, but with the sign-stealing stuff, I just never thought it was this ingrained and deep-rooted and systematic and simply a normal part of what they did for games.
The latest only underscores just how routine this has all been for the Astros organization:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 17, 2019
The identities of those involved in this element are not identified, but if the emails are being passed around, you can be sure MLB is going to find out.
And think about that: the Astros thought it was so normal to use equipment to steal signs during games that a team executive was comfortable just emailing about it! And this is just now coming out! What else is out there lurking on the Astros or other teams?
I really just can’t get over this email, per The Athletic’s brilliant reporting: “One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout,” the email’s sender wrote in a message from August of 2017. “What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”
Advanced scouting for HOW BEST TO CHEAT.
Players and uniformed personnel trying to steal signs during a game? Normal. Part of the game. Been around since forever.
Scouts studying signs and tendencies from the stands for use in future games or for other development purposes? Eh, little less chill, but still probably fine. Probably normal, probably done since forever.
But advance scouting so you can best figure out what kind of equipment you might need in order to steal future signs?!? There is no way anyone should have thought in 2017 that it would fly. The Astros were simply comfortable pushing that boundary, and as you can see from the quotes in the article, it even made their own scouts uncomfortable.
The MLB hammer is going to be strong on this one. I’m quite certain now if I weren’t already. And other teams who’ve deployed sketch practices? They might be next.