There are a lot of reasons it doesn’t matter at this point, but I do find it interesting to hear from a Cubs pitcher who thought the Astros cheated this past year when the Cubs came to Houston.
From reliever Steve Cishek:
Steve Cishek says the Cubs had a game against the Astros last year where they felt it was obvious that their signs were being stolen, but they didn’t have clear evidence. He said he would rather face someone using PEDs than someone who knows what’s coming
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) January 25, 2020
Busted. The Astros were punished for 2017, but everyone knows they were still doing it in 2019.
What’s very interesting about that series in Houston is that the Cubs got blown up in the first two games … and then won the third game on the strength of a dominant outing by Kyle Hendricks and a perfect final inning from none other than Cishek, himself. It makes you wonder if the Cubs caught on after those first two games and then played with their signs in the third.
I went back to watch the game just now, and a couple things:
- The lighting in Willson Contreras’s groin area was really poor on both broadcasts, which made it extremely difficult to make out what signs he was putting down. Would that be the same for the Astros if they were contemporaneously trying to steal? I checked the game before just to see, and it was actually a little easier to see Contreras’s fingers in that broadcast.
- I swear there were a couple times early in the game, with Hendricks on the mound, that Contreras put down a one and Hendricks threw a changeup. Like I said, it’s pretty hard to see on the archived broadcasts on MLB.tv, but it does seem plausible that the Cubs thought the Astros were stealing in the first two games, so they decided to use fake signs in the first inning to basically tell the Astros: don’t bother stealing today. And then Hendricks and Cishek owned them.
Ultimately, like I said, it doesn’t matter from a Cubs 2019 season standpoint. That Astros series didn’t make or break the Cubs’ season. But it is interesting to think about the gamesmanship that goes on without us even knowing, and to think about the things the Astros may still have been doing in 2019 (and how big of a performance difference it may have made).