No, I'm Not Forgetting What the Astros Did and Other Cubs Bullets

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No, I’m Not Forgetting What the Astros Did and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Still adjusting to the rhythms of what will be a new schedule. I am not sure I realized just how extremely ingrained parts of my routine had become until they were disrupted.

  • This is one of those things I know I have to present carefully, because it is far less important than the health and national economy issues presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s a given. But an aftereffect of all of this that pisses me off today, and will piss me off when baseball resumes, is how the Houston Astros have been let off the hook. I know it’s a little hard to get yourself back in the mental space of pre-COVID-19, but remember early Spring Training? Remember how Astros players were getting mercilessly booed in fake baseball games? Remember how they deserved it for cheating so brazenly and feeling so little regret and receiving no punishment? “Strip the title”? All that stuff? How people even said that the boos and the chants and the shaming would be part of the punishment?
  • … well now it’s just gone. Nobody really talks about it at all anymore, and when baseball returns, you can understand why it won’t be a huge storyline then either. Just some booing at first, and then people will slide back into bliss that baseball is back. I get it. I’ll be right there, too. And it’s really annoying.
  • Anyway, I mention all that today because the latest from Jayson Stark, Eno Sarris, C. Trent Rosecrans, and Senior Data Scientist Michael Chiang at The Athletic got me thinking about the Astros again:

  • It’s crazy how quickly and simply someone was able to design a codebreaking system, electronically, to analyze a series of signs and accurately predict pitches in realtime. Moreover, even when the Nationals were using their most complicated, frequently-changed series of signs, the system picked it up and accurately predicted within six batters.
  • The reactions from the Nationals’ battery in the World Series game The Athletic’s staff was analyzing is pretty funny:

“I could see how you would potentially get it, it still baffles me how you’d get that,” Suzuki said when he saw this at-bat with the predictions. “Too many smart people in this game. I don’t know how they’re getting it. I don’t know how the algorithm works.”

“I know why you got it,” Scherzer said. “I know where the system breaks down. I’m pretty sure I know why you got it.”

  • Ultimately, there are more and more advanced sign systems that teams could use that would take the algorithm longer and longer to crack (if it ever could), but then you’re rubbing up against the realistic limits of what humans could actually learn and deploy constantly out on the field (to say nothing of how long it would take to pitch a dang game). So, in reality, this is why either teams need to stop cheating with cameras, or the league needs to figure out a completely different way for catchers and pitchers to communicate signs.
  • Fascinating read, by the way, on just how complicated signing systems can get, and how advanced electronic systems can get at cracking them.
  • Hey, it’s what we’ve got – distant pictures and imagined stories:

  • He’s not wrong:

  • And, at the moment, it seems only a handful of big league organizations are paying minor leaguers any kind of stipend for this uncertain time (and per the BA report, the Cubs are not among them, which would surprise me):

  • A heads up for your viewing pleasure today:

  • Check out Amazon’s Deals of the Day here, with the apologetic reminder from me that, while it seems weird to promote products right now, it does support the operations of our business. So I’ve gotta do it. And, hey, sometimes when you get these reminders, maybe you find a good deal that wouldn’t have otherwise. Thanks. #ad
  • Our latest podcast episode over at The Athletic:



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.