The Houston Astros Sign-Stealing Scandal

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My bad, he began his career as a starter, and played that role until a few years ago. It doesn't change my argument, though. In eight games, Kelly would not miss more innings than a typical starter would in one start. A reliever will typically appear in about one-third of a team's games, and pitch for one or at most two innings in those appearances.
If we want to be pedantic he started his career pitching as both a starter and a reliever for St Louis.

He's pitched in 50% of the Dodgers games so far. How many innings he pitches is irrelevant, that's up to Roberts. It's still a ridiculously long suspension when he wasn't even spoken to by the umpires, let alone ejected. Manfred's attitude to this is utterly ridiculous. He could stop it all by actually punishing the cheats. Instead he's essentially handing the Astros more advantages by threatening pitchers with suspension which may stop them throwing at the inside of the plate.

Yes, the 2018 Red Sox, who were also accused of cheating. Kelly is the last player to be acting self-righteously.
The Red Sox were essentially cleared. Watkins has been banned but it's claimed his communications were only effective when a runner was on second base, a small percentage were decoded from in-game footage and Cora, staff and most team members had no idea about it (Manfred's words). And the AL has DHs so the likelihood of Kelly having any clue about it is tiny.
 
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Manfred's attitude to this is utterly ridiculous. He could stop it all by actually punishing the cheats.
Oh, I don't disagree with that. Of course, the Astros players should have been punished. But two wrongs don't make a right.

The Red Sox were essentially cleared.
Ironic that you make that claim at the same time excoriating Manfred for not punishing the Astros. Do you really think the Red Sox did not cheat? One staff member was punished, and the team, like the Astros, was given some draft penalty. We already know, from Manfred's refusal to penalize any of the Astros players, that his similar hands-off attitude towards Red Sox players means essentially nothing.

And the AL has DHs so the likelihood of Kelly having any clue about it is tiny.
The fact that a pitcher doesn't bat doesn't mean he doesn't know what's going on with his teammates who do. Do you think the Astros pitchers didn't know what was going on? Verlander is on record that he not only did know what was going on, after he joined the team that year, but that he should have spoken up.
 
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Oh, I don't disagree with that. Of course, the Astros should have been punished. But two wrongs don't make a right.
Baseball has always policed itself. If Manfred wanted that to change he should have punished the Astros. Everyone knew it was coming. I don't particularly like it, but continuing to defend the Astros in the way he is, is ridiculous.

Ironic that you make that claim at the same time excoriating Manfred for not punishing the Astros. Do you really think the Red Sox did not cheat? One staff member was punished, and the team, like the Astros, was given some draft penalty.
You've deleted the section where I stated that this is what Manfred claims, not me. Personally, I think the Red Sox probably did what most teams do/have done. There were even memos sent out which imply this. There's nothing ironic about taking the MLB report into both the Astros and the Red Sox at face value and expecting punishments to be in line with that.

As for comparing punishments.

Red Sox:
Video analysis suspended
2020 2nd round draft pick lost


Astros:
Manager suspended
General manager suspended
$5m fine
2020 and 2021 1st round draft pick lost
2020 and 2021 2nd round drat pick lost


We should also detail what is actually alleged. It is alleged that Watkins used in game video to revise the sign codes he gave to the batters prior to the game (my previous post didn't read well so I've edited it). This is very, very different to what the Astros are accused of. There was not direct communication to the batter. It still relied on the runner at 2nd seeing the call and telling the batter.

The fact that a pitcher doesn't bat doesn't mean he doesn't know what's going on with his teammates who do. Do you think the Astros pitchers didn't know what was going on?
From Manfred: "I do not find that then-Manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis. Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only."

If he only communicated the changes to a small number of players, it's not going to be a pitcher who doesn't bat.
 
KB, all I'm going to do at this point is to repeat, I think the suspension of Kelly was deserved (at the least; as I said before, I regard it as no more than a slap on the wrist). Throwing at a batter is dangerous and cowardly, and IMO, ought to be discouraged. The fact that Manfred didn't punish the Astros players ought to be irrelevant to the degree of punishment.

When OJ escaped a murder charge, no doubt many people would have liked to have done him physical harm. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't have been punished if they had attempted to do so. You don't get a pass for taking the law in your hands, just because it's widely accepted that the law failed.

As for what the Red Sox did, you say:

This is very, very different to what the Astros are accused of. There was not direct communication to the batter. It still relied on the runner at 2nd seeing the call and telling the batter.
Being able to decode signals in real time is a big deal--that's why it's banned. The fact that there was no direct communication with the batter is relatively minor. Yes, it means that the system only worked when a runner was on second, but then, the Astros didn't use their system most of the time, either. The key point is that in either case, when the system was used, the batter knew what pitch was coming. Saying that happened less often in Boston is like saying, a rider who only took EPO a few times should be punished less than one who took it regularly.

Boston wasn't punished less because the system didn't work as well as Houston's did. It was punished less because Manfred was persuaded, rightly or wrongly, that Watkins was the only one who knew what was going on. But in fact, the players must have guessed, because why would signs be changed during the game, unless someone had new information?

Kelly may not have known this while it was happening, but the fact remains that he potentially benefited from it, which means he really shouldn't be acting as if he's so different from the Astros. AFAIK, he has never expressed any public regret for being with the Red Sox, even after what they were doing came to light. Which brings us to...

Personally, I think the Red Sox probably did what most teams do/have done.
I agree with you. That includes the Dodgers, who themselves were accused of using video technology in the postseason prior to the WS. That is all the more reason why no player, neither Kelly nor anyone else, should be taking it on himself to punish the Astros. Let he who is without sin...
 
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KB, all I'm going to do at this point is to repeat, I think the suspension of Kelly was deserved (at the least; as I said before, I regard it as no more than a slap on the wrist). Throwing at a batter is dangerous and cowardly, and IMO, ought to be discouraged. The fact that Manfred didn't punish the Astros players ought to be irrelevant to the degree of punishment.
Why do you think he deserves a longer suspension than pitchers are usually given? And why does he deserve it when he wasn't even ejected from the game?

When OJ escaped a murder charge, no doubt many people would have liked to have done him physical harm. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't have been punished if they had attempted to do so. You don't get a pass for taking the law in your hands, just because it's widely accepted that the law failed.
I'm really not a fan of comparing things in sports to actual crimes, but if we're going to do that then your comparison needs some modifying. A more reasonable comparison would be that OJ was found guilty, admitted it but didn't apologise, was allowed to keep his career but had to pay a tiny fine and change managers and new laws were made specifically to protect OJ over and above the laws that already existed.

To detail it exactly; The Astros were found to have been involved in a massive cheating scheme where video was used in real time to decode pitches and this was communicated from the dugout so could be done in an situation and in any ball park. They were handed a small punishment that didn't affect the players who were actually involved. No players suspended, no careers lost. Manfred has now stated that any HBP against the Astros must be reviewed after the fact to see if a pitcher should be banned.

It's sport, not criminal proceedings, so comparing players taking their own action to people taking action against people found innocent in the courts is silly, but if it's going to happen lets at least get it right.

Being able to decode signals in real time is a big deal--that's why it's banned. The fact that there was no direct communication with the batter is relatively minor. Yes, it means that the system only worked when a runner was on second, but then, the Astros didn't use their system most of the time, either. The key point is that in either case, when the system was used, the batter knew what pitch was coming. Saying that happened less often in Boston is like saying, a rider who only took EPO a few times should be punished less than one who took it regularly.
As for the Red Sox, I'm still not sure you understand the difference. The Astros used cameras to decode the pitches in real time and pass that information to the batter at any point. This didn't require a runner on 2nd to be able to see the call and relay it, which affects their ability to steal. It allowed the Astros to use zoom lenses etc., have several people looking at all times and to communicate directly to the batter about any pitch they wanted too. It made communication easier too, as if a certain batter is waiting for a certain pitch, this information can be held in the dugout and they can communicate it as they like.

The Red Sox used a camera to decode the pitches after the fact to alter their already known signals. These signals were then communicated to batters in the dugout who had to get to 2nd and decode the pitch and communicate it in the usual way. This is very clearly much more limited in scope than the Astros. That was even in the statement from Manfred:

"I find that unlike the Houston Astros’ 2017 conduct, in which players communicated to the batter from the dugout area in real time the precise type of pitch about to be thrown, Watkins’s conduct, by its very nature, was far more limited in scope and impact. The information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base (which was 19.7% of plate appearances league wide in 2018), and Watkins communicated sign sequences in a manner that indicated that he had decoded them from the in-game feed in only a small percentage of those occurrences."


And yes, we do punish people who dope less differently to those who dope more. That's why there are different lengths of suspensions for different offences, different number of offences etc. That's a pretty basic part of anti-doping.

Boston wasn't punished less because the system didn't work as well as Houston's did. It was punished less because Manfred was persuaded, rightly or wrongly, that Watkins was the only one who knew what was going on. But in fact, the players must have guessed, because why would signs be changed during the game, unless someone had new information?
So actually they were punished less because their system didn't work as well as the Astros. That's exactly what Manfred said. New information can still come from runners at 2nd, so if someone who was on second passed the information players wouldn't know. It should still be pointed out that Watkins denies all this, the Astros do not deny what they did.

Kelly may not have known this while it was happening, but the fact remains that he potentially benefited from it, which means he really shouldn't be acting as if he's so different from the Astros. AFAIK, he has never expressed any public regret for being with the Red Sox, even after what they were doing came to light. Which brings us to...
This is goalpost shifting.

I agree with you. That includes the Dodgers, who themselves were accused of using video technology in the postseason prior to the WS. That is all the more reason why no player, neither Kelly nor anyone else, should be taking it on himself to punish the Astros. Let he who is without sin...
And this is again showing why what the Red Sox did is different. People aren't throwing at the Red Sox batters. As for taking it on themselves, Kelly isn't the first to do it (even with the Astros, it was happening in spring training when Urēna and Guzman did it) I doubt he'll be the last, and there is a long history of this in baseball. That can't be ignored as the precedent is there.
 
Why do you think he deserves a longer suspension than pitchers are usually given? And why does he deserve it when he wasn't even ejected from the game?
What length of suspension would be fair in your opinion? Again, we're talking about, in effect, 2-3 innings.

I definitely believe he should have been ejected. But again, two wrongs don't make a right.

I'm really not a fan of comparing things in sports to actual crimes, but if we're going to do that then your comparison needs some modifying. A more reasonable comparison would be that OJ was found guilty, admitted it but didn't apologise, was allowed to keep his career but had to pay a tiny fine and change managers and new laws were made specifically to protect OJ over and above the laws that already existed.
Change managers? Keep his career? I don't understand what you're talking about. Obviously, murder is far worse than sign stealing, so to the extent you make an analogy at all, you don't need a confession to make it more analogous. Without a confession, it's already bad enough. My only point was that in either case, we're talking about taking the law in one's hands.

As for the Red Sox, I'm still not sure you understand the difference. The Astros used cameras to decode the pitches in real time and pass that information to the batter at any point. This didn't require a runner on 2nd to be able to see the call and relay it, which affects their ability to steal. It allowed the Astros to use zoom lenses etc., have several people looking at all times and to communicate directly to the batter about any pitch they wanted too. It made communication easier too, as if a certain batter is waiting for a certain pitch, this information can be held in the dugout and they can communicate it as they like.

The Red Sox used a camera to decode the pitches after the fact to alter their already known signals. These signals were then communicated to batters in the dugout who had to get to 2nd and decode the pitch and communicate it in the usual way. This is very clearly much more limited in scope than the Astros. That was even in the statement from Manfred:

"I find that unlike the Houston Astros’ 2017 conduct, in which players communicated to the batter from the dugout area in real time the precise type of pitch about to be thrown, Watkins’s conduct, by its very nature, was far more limited in scope and impact. The information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base (which was 19.7% of plate appearances league wide in 2018), and Watkins communicated sign sequences in a manner that indicated that he had decoded them from the in-game feed in only a small percentage of those occurrences."
Again, both teams were using video decoding, and that is specifically what is banned. Once you know the signs pitcher-catcher batteries use, a runner on second can signal to the batter what pitch is coming--that is in real time. Banging on a garbage can is not necessarily a superior way to communicate, in fact, there is some evidence that for some batters, it might have disrupted their concentration.

As far as how often the two teams used the system, if you look at Tony Adams's data, the Astros used the system less than 20% of the time. The players who were tipped off most often were around 25%, but most were considerably lower. E.g., Jose Altuve, who went on a very suspicious tear in mid-summer, just when the system was peaking, was tipped < 5% of the time.

And yes, we do punish people who dope less differently to those who dope more. That's why there are different lengths of suspensions for different offences, different number of offences etc. That's a pretty basic part of anti-doping.
What you seem to be referring to is the fact that if a rider has a previous doping offense, a subsequent one is worse. But that's not relevant to the Astros vs. the Red Sox, What is relevant is that if a rider is caught doping more than once in some period, he isn't sanctioned to a greater degree than one who is caught doping once. E.g., a rider may test positive for some substance several times during a period of several weeks, with subsequent samples given before the first one has been processed. The sanction in this case is no worse than if he tested positive only once.

Also, doping offenses generally don't distinguish between how much of a drug is used. E..g, severity of sanction does not depend on the amount of a substance detected in blood or urine. If it's a no-threshold drug, any amount results in a sanction. If there is a threshold, any level over that is treated the same. And needless to say, the benefit a rider gets from doping is irrelevant to the penalty. We've seen again and again riders argue that the amount found in their urine couldn't have been performance-enhancing. This doesn't matter, and it shouldn't. It's the intention that matters.

If you want to argue that this is different from doping, and should be treated in a different way, fine. MLB certainly has the right to mete out punishment according to how much cheating took place, and to what extent it appears to be successful. But doping certainly provides a relevant precedent.

So actually they were punished less because their system didn't work as well as the Astros. That's exactly what Manfred said. New information can still come from runners at 2nd, so if someone who was on second passed the information players wouldn't know. It should still be pointed out that Watkins denies all this, the Astros do not deny what they did.
i think what you're referring to is that pitchers-catchers change their signals during the course of the game, so Watkins's information might not have been as current as that used by the Astros. Yes, that's possible, though the fact that Watkins was doing this during the game indicates he was trying to avoid this problem. And again, as I noted above, the degree of success shouldn't be relevant to the punishment.

This is goalpost shifting.
Why? I started this discussion by pointing out that Kelly is being hypocritical. His hypocrisy doesn't depend on when he knew what the Red Sox were doing.

And this is again showing why what the Red Sox did is different.
Other players are treating it as different, yes. That doesn't mean MLB has to. If you polled the peloton, they might believe someone who took a more sophisticated blood doping program should be punished more than someone who transfused on his own. But that isn't how WADA sees it.

Bottom line: If you want to argue that what the Astros did was much worse than what the Red Sox did, fine. I really don't care. But that is a very flimsy argument on which to base the conclusion that Kelly isn't being hypocritical. The argument is, basically, I can throw at cheating batters on a cheating team, because the team I played with before didn't cheat as much.
 
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What length of suspension would be fair in your opinion? Again, we're talking about, in effect, 2-3 innings.

I definitely believe he should have been ejected. But again, two wrongs don't make a right.
Last time I checked the average suspension for intentional HBP was 10 games and I'm pretty sure that's when pitchers are ejected. Kelly wasn't ejected but a 5 game ban would have at least been in line with previous bans. So again, why do you think he deserves a longer ban than other who do hit batters and are ejected?

Change managers? Keep his career? I don't understand what you're talking about. Obviously, murder is far worse than sign stealing, so to the extent you make an analogy at all, you don't need a confession to make it more analogous. Without a confession, it's already bad enough. My only point was that in either case, we're talking about taking the law in one's hands.
OJ was found innocent and not punished. The Astros were found guilty and none of the players were punished. These are very clearly different situations. Whether I agree with it or not, this has always happened in baseball and it was stupid of MLB and Manfred to think they could stop it. I don't like analogies because they are almost always imperfect, so I just shouldn't have engaged it and for that I'm sorry.

Again, both teams were using video decoding, and that is specifically what is banned. Once you know the signs pitcher-catcher batteries use, a runner on second can signal to the batter what pitch is coming--that is in real time. Banging on a garbage can is not necessarily a superior way to communicate, in fact, there is some evidence that for some batters, it might have disrupted their concentration...


i think what you're referring to is that pitchers-catchers change their signals during the course of the game, so Watkins's information might not have been as current as that used by the Astros. Yes, that's possible, though the fact that Watkins was doing this during the game indicates he was trying to avoid this problem. And again, as I noted above, the degree of success shouldn't be relevant to the punishment.
I've moved these parts of your post together. Throughout this whole thread I've assumed that you know what is and isn't allowed but these sections make me think you don't. The use of video replays to decode signs after a game has finished/before a game has started is completely fine and done by every single team. If they want, a team can employ someone to watch every single piece of footage that exists of deGrom and write a whole handbook on how he calls plays, how he changes them between games and within games and so on. This can be read by any player and those players can communicate with each other if they decide they have seen him using a particular pattern.

What they cannot do is use video technology during the game to work out what systems are being used and then communicate it to the players. The Red Sox used a system that only works at home (it requires a video replay room and analysis which away teams do not have available) and only works with a runner on second (where sign stealing and communication between that runner and the batter is allowed). It still requires the runner to see the sign and communicate it with the batter. This is clearly more limited than using cameras with zoom lenses etc. The Yankees did the same and communicated with Apple watches. The Red Sox picked that up, supposedly from Chris Young although he later took back his statement. The Yankees were fined for this.

The part of your post I highlighted is the only thing Watkins did which is not allowed, but you seem to mention it as if it's an aside to the actual cheating. It isn't, it is the cheating.

The Astros used cameras pointed at the catcher which relayed live pictures to the dugout so signs could be communicated to any batter regardless of whether there is a runner on any base. This is a system that works in every single ball park, for every single pitch.

You seem to be arguing these are the same (or at least should be treated as such) and making analogies to doping. Again, this is why analogies are almost always poor and hardly ever necessary. Not all cheating is the same, even when related, and not all cheating is punished in the same way.


As far as how often the two teams used the system, if you look at Tony Adams's data, the Astros used the system less than 20% of the time. The players who were tipped off most often were around 25%, but most were considerably lower. E.g., Jose Altuve, who went on a very suspicious tear in mid-summer, just when the system was peaking, was tipped < 5% of the time.
This is an assumption, it may be that the pitches they wanted to signal didn't come up when the system was being used, so no bin-banging went on that game, but this is still more than the Red Sox method was used.

What you seem to be referring to is the fact that if a rider has a previous doping offense, a subsequent one is worse. But that's not relevant to the Astros vs. the Red Sox, What is relevant is that if a rider is caught doping more than once in some period, he isn't sanctioned to a greater degree than one who is caught doping once. E.g., a rider may test positive for some substance several times during a period of several weeks, with subsequent samples given before the first one has been processed. The sanction in this case is no worse than if he tested positive only once.
Again, this is where doping analogies fall down. The Astros cheated in both the regular and the post season. They cheated at both away and home games. The red sox cheated in home games in the regular season. We can break it down however fits, but one is clearly going to have more impact/have the possibility to have more impact.

Also, doping offenses generally don't distinguish between how much of a drug is used. E..g, severity of sanction does not depend on the amount of a substance detected in blood or urine. If it's a no-threshold drug, any amount results in a sanction. If there is a threshold, any level over that is treated the same. And needless to say, the benefit a rider gets from doping is irrelevant to the penalty. We've seen again and again riders argue that the amount found in their urine couldn't have been performance-enhancing. This doesn't matter, and it shouldn't. It's the intention that matters.
And again, this is where the analogy falls down, because other sports, and cycling, punish different offences, even ones that are related, differently. I'm almost certain anti-doping came about to protect riders.As such it's not surprising that punishments are the same whatever the offence is, because the point was to stop riders risking their lives.

Femke Van den Driessche says hello.

If you want to argue that this is different from doping, and should be treated in a different way, fine. MLB certainly has the right to mete out punishment according to how much cheating took place, and to what extent it appears to be successful. But doping certainly provides a relevant precedent.
So do lots of other types of cheating in other sports. We could rehash what the Pats have done over the past few seasons but lets not. There's plenty of precedent in a myriad of sports for different punishments for related offences (including baseball).


Why? I started this discussion by pointing out that Kelly is being hypocritical. His hypocrisy doesn't depend on when he knew what the Red Sox were doing.
No, it started with him being a Dodger who was cheated and that's why he was angry. When I pointed out he was on the Red Sox it moved to him being someone who cheated the Dodgers in the World Series (That's wrong because the Red Sox didn't use their system in the post-season). When I pointed out he likely had no idea, it was changed to he obviously would. I further pointed out that the MLB had concluded most of the Red Sox organisation had no idea it was going on and the only ones who would are likely batters who might be on second. This obviously doesn't include pitchers in the AL due to the DH. This then changed to him benefitting from it (which I don't disagree with) but we both agree that we think most teams have done what the Red Sox did (the Yankees did and apparently the Dodgers did). While I don't think they should be doing it, it seems like it was pretty accepted across the league and only over the past couple of years is it being phased out. What the Astros did is not accepted. There are different levels of cheating within all sports, it's not all the same and casting it as such is pretty disingenuous.

Other players are treating it as different, yes. That doesn't mean MLB has to. If you polled the peloton, they might believe someone who took a more sophisticated blood doping program should be punished more than someone who transfused on his own. But that isn't how WADA sees it.
No, they don't, but clearly they do and so do many other sports. They could issue $5m fines , fire managers and pull draft picks for tampering with the ball, but it's not going to happen. They could do it for travelling in basketball, but again it isn't going to happen.

Bottom line: If you want to argue that what the Astros did was much worse than what the Red Sox did, fine. I really don't care. But that is a very flimsy argument on which to base the conclusion that Kelly isn't being hypocritical. The argument is, basically, I can throw at cheating batters on a cheating team, because the team I played with before didn't cheat as much.
I'm not making that argument, MLB is. They specifically said What the Red Sox did was "far more limited in scope and impact". I've pointed out why Kelly wouldn't likely have known about the system, based on the MLBs investigation (not my opinion), and that the same or similar systems have been used by other teams and most people think it's likely gone on everywhere. Something that was generally accepted and had much less impact is clearly not going to be viewed in the same way. I'm pretty sure most players are just thinking they were lucky their team wasn't caught out like the Red Sox, but they're all extremely angry at the Astros for taking it much too far.

In my opinion, what the Red Sox did was generally accepted, what the Astros did is not. In the context of the players and the sport (and context is always important), I do not think it's hypocritical for Kelly, or anyone, to think the Astros deserve more punishment than the Red Sox and, when the punishment given is regarded as unfitting (and the problems with the Astros being protected), for pitchers to do what pitchers do in baseball and have done for years. I don't like it and don't want to see it, but I can fully understand why it's happening.
 
Before I start...This is a great discussion, and I thank you for the time and effort you're putting into it. I didn't think when I first replied to your post that it would go this far, but here we are.

So again, why do you think he deserves a longer ban than other who do hit batters and are ejected?
Because it's dangerous. Your argument, like others who agree with you that the penalty was too harsh, is based on precedent. "It's always been done this way." I think that's a poor basis for making a decision. What the pitcher is doing would be called, off the field, deadly assault. I think it deserves a stiff penalty.

Just because baseball has always done something in a certain way doesn't mean they have to continue doing it that way. Baseball used to ban blacks. Baseball used to accept chewing tobacco. Baseball used to turn a blind eye to domestic violence. Eventually, times changed, and baseball changed, too. I think times have changed, too, regarding throwing at hitters. It shouldn't be tolerated.

I understand that it's a fuzzy line, because pitchers have to be allowed to intimidate batters to some extent, to own the plate. But when you throw right at or behind the batter, the only excuse is that the pitch got away, which sometimes happens, but it's pretty clear that wasn't the case here.

I don't like analogies because they are almost always imperfect, so I just shouldn't have engaged it and for that I'm sorry.
I shouldn't have brought up the analogy, it wasn't necessary, and just got us side-tracked. There are plenty of interesting issues here without talking about OJ.

The use of video replays to decode signs after a game has finished/before a game has started is completely fine and done by every single team.
Yes, I'm aware of that.

What they cannot do is use video technology during the game to work out what systems are being used and then communicate it to the players.
Yes, I thought I made it clear that that was my main point. The statement I made that you interpreted as though it were an aside was meant to emphasize the importance of decoding signals during the game, as opposed to just analyzing previous games. I further made the point that the players themselves could hardly be unaware of this, and that seems to have been the case:

a smaller number of players said that on at least some occasions, they suspected or had indications that Watkins may have revised the sign sequence information that he had provided to players prior to the game through his review of the game feed in the replay room. They largely based their belief on the fact that Watkins on occasion provided different sign sequence information during the game than he had offered prior to the game...
One player described that he observed Watkins write down sign sequence information during the game while he appeared to be watching the game feed in the replay room, circling the correct sign in the sequence after the pitch was thrown
https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2020/04/22/sign-stealing-mlb-punishes-boston-red-sox-2018-violations/3005921001/

This is exactly what I would expect. Players were given a set of signals before the game, which were then changed during the game. Why would they be changed unless Watkins was decoding them during the game itself? They had to know what was going on. I'm not going to argue they were as complicit as the Astros players were, and maybe the system wasn't used enough for most players to be aware of it, but some clearly must have been.

It still requires the runner to see the sign and communicate it with the batter.
Yes, I pointed that out. Maybe that makes it a little harder, and it can't be done all the time, but again, the illegal part is the decoding of the signals, and for good reason. Once you have that information, you can tell batters what pitch is coming, at least, in the RS case, when a runner is on second. That information is every bit as useful to the batter as it would be if a trash can were banged.

Not all cheating is the same, even when related, and not all cheating is punished in the same way.
Granted, but the behavior that was illegal--decoding during the game--was the same. While you accurately reflect Manfred's view, I disagree with it. I'm not going to insist that the RS should have been punished as much as the Astros--again, we've sort of gotten off the central point here, and maybe that's my fault. That was not my original point. My point was only that Kelly was being hypocritical. To conclude that doesn't mean what the RS did was every bit as bad as what the Astros did. It just means that it was illegal, and for the same basic reason. The only thing different is that the RS didn't cheat as much.

To use a doping analogy you would probably prefer, though i wouldn't, it's like a rider who used amphetamines in his time criticizing one who took EPO. Yes, the latter is worse, but the rider still appears hypocritical. I don't think that's an accurate analogy here, but if you want to go that way, it still doesn't make Kelly look very good. I suppose by using this, I'm changing the goal posts, but again, I'm just pointing out that even using this more modest comparison of the two teams, Kelly is still somewhat dirty here.

The Astros cheated in both the regular and the post season. They cheated at both away and home games. The red sox cheated in home games in the regular season.
Again, I don't buy that the difference matters, or matters that much. It's like saying one rider transfused for MSR, while another transfused for multiple monuments or classics. Or one rider did it on one stage of the TDF, while another did it on multiple stages. Maybe the second rider also took EPO to counteract the suppression of retics, or transfused saline to lower the HT. Or one rider used a centrifuge to separate red cells and freeze them for months, while another had to use the low tech system of withdrawing/transfusing every few weeks. What difference does it make? To WADA, none at all. Your reasoning--and again, I concede this is Manfred's view-- is that the second rider got more of an advantage, and more often, and should be punished more severely. This is not the way doping penalties work. If you want to argue that the two forms of cheating are significantly different, fine, but again, I see enough similarity that Kelly is is a bad position acting self-righteously.

Femke Van den Driessche says hello.
I don't believe that her case is relevant. It's very different from a doping case. She didn't dope more often or more effectively. She did something else entirely. You can't say that what. the Astros did was entirely different from what the Red Sox did. If the Astros had a bike motor, maybe the RS had a smaller motor running on a much smaller battery.

There's plenty of precedent in a myriad of sports for different punishments for related offences (including baseball).
Agreed. But generally, the differences are clear. E.g., a supplement that might have been taken inadvertently, instead of intentionally. A threshold drug that has a legitimate use, like salbutamol (though even in these cases, riders frequently get penalized just as much as those guilty of a more obvious and flagrant violation). What the RS did was just as intentional as what the Astros did.

That's wrong because the Red Sox didn't use their system in the post-season
They might not have gotten to the postseason without that system. Yes, they won the division by a huge margin, but again, it's supposed to be the intention that matters.

Suppose Contador's CB positive had not come out till years later. Using the RS didn't cheat in the WS logic, you could say that he won the 2011 Giro fairly, because he was clean (we will stipulate) then. The point is if, as was actually the case, he had been caught in 2010, he either wouldn't have been allowed to ride the 2011 Giro, or as actually happened, he was stripped of his results. The "but I didn't cheat then" excuse wouldn't be allowed.

It doesn't work that way in baseball. But again, to judge Kelly, we can surely point out that he was helped in getting to the WS by cheating.

There are different levels of cheating within all sports, it's not all the same and casting it as such is pretty disingenuous.
I don't think I'm claiming it's all the same. There are lots of other ways to cheat besides sign stealing--doctoring the ball, e.g., corking the bat, interference of various kinds, as well as doping. I'm not saying the penalties for all of these should be the same.
 
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Before I start...This is a great discussion, and I thank you for the time and effort you're putting into it. I didn't think when I first replied to your post that it would go this far, but here we are.



Because it's dangerous. Your argument, like others who agree with you that the penalty was too harsh, is based on precedent. "It's always been done this way." I think that's a poor basis for making a decision. What the pitcher is doing would be called, off the field, deadly assault. I think it deserves a stiff penalty.

Just because baseball has always done something in a certain way doesn't mean they have to continue doing it that way. Baseball used to ban blacks. Baseball used to accept chewing tobacco. Baseball used to turn a blind eye to domestic violence. Eventually, times changed, and baseball changed, too. I think times have changed, too, regarding throwing at hitters. It shouldn't be tolerated.

I understand that it's a fuzzy line, because pitchers have to be allowed to intimidate batters to some extent, to own the plate. But when you throw right at or behind the batter, the only excuse is that the pitch got away, which sometimes happens, but it's pretty clear that wasn't the case here.
It is good, I love talking baseball and no-one here seems to want to do it, even if it is about cheating! Unfortunately there are now so many strands I fear I'll forget salient points to certain parts and it'll get more confused and circular.


That's not really my issue with this suspension. I also think that intentionally targeting batters shouldn't happen and they should do more to stop it. (although it's hard to decide what's intentional and what's throwing inside. A lot of pitchers don't have the control many think they do. There's a lockdown video of Kelly throwing a ball through his kitchen window while working on a pitch. He missed a net that must have been about 30 feet wide). Throwing inside the plate should be enough of a warning and those pitches shouldn't be above chest height. My issue is that I don't believe he would have received even a single game suspension if this had been against any other team. He received a 6 game suspension for a HBP and his part in instigating the brawl for intentionally hitting Tyler Austin of the Yankees in retaliation for a dangerous slide into second and spiking Holt. That's where the nickname comes from. There is no way this incident was 4 times worse and based on Kelly's other pitches to both batters I'm still not convinced it was on purpose (at least not the final location).

I'd have no issue if they came out hard on HBP and said anyone doing it will be getting a long suspension, but that's not what happened here and that's the biggest issue I have with it. I never got to play baseball growing up but I did get to play cricket in an era when intentional bouncers at head-height went largely unregulated and beamers were more tolerated, so I do know how worrying these kind of things are. My issue here is that this is all about protecting a team they refuse to properly punish by over-punishing others.


Yes, I thought I made it clear that that was my main point. The statement I made that you interpreted as though it were an aside was meant to emphasize the importance of decoding signals during the game, as opposed to just analyzing previous games. I further made the point that the players themselves could hardly be unaware of this, and that seems to have been the case:
No, it read more like your issue was the use of video at all, especially when you said that Watkins was trying to avoid a problem. This implies that the initial video analysis is part of the scheme.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2020/04/22/sign-stealing-mlb-punishes-boston-red-sox-2018-violations/3005921001/

This is exactly what I would expect. Players were given a set of signals before the game, which were then changed during the game. Why would they be changed unless Watkins was decoding them during the game itself? They had to know what was going on. I'm not going to argue they were as complicit as the Astros players were, and maybe the system wasn't used enough for most players to be aware of it, but some clearly must have been.
There are other reasons. If a runner went to Watkins and said the calls he was given were wrong, told him what the calls were and Watkins referred to his notes and changed those calls based on the new information, that would be fine and explain the change. I would assume this kind of thing isn't uncommon. I'm assuming this is what Watkins claims he was doing and is the basis of his appeal.

The statement implied that it was only used sparingly, so it's conceivable that only a few players had spoken to Watkins and also possible they weren't all aware that his updates were coming from footage of that game, rather than previous notes. The players would have to see him specifically looking at footage from that game or have updates passed to them without them being requested. I'm guessing that's what was said during the investigation but it's not been made public.


Yes, I pointed that out. Maybe that makes it a little harder, and it can't be done all the time, but again, the illegal part is the decoding of the signals, and for good reason. Once you have that information, you can tell batters what pitch is coming, at least, in the RS case, when a runner is on second. That information is every bit as useful to the batter as it would be if a trash can were banged.
This is where we differ. While there were some technical differences in how the signs were stolen that meant the window of opportunity was significantly smaller for the Red Sox, I still think the implementation is much more relevant. The red Sox could only steal signs at Fenway, with a runner at second and it was only when a runner told Watkins the information they were given was wrong or Watkins specifically came out and told them it was wrong. There is no mention of the Red Sox using their own cameras (I could well have missed this) to do it so it may also have been limited to when Watkins could see replay signsfrom in game cameras.

The Astros system negated all of those problems and the use of their own camera made it possible to steal signs for every single pitch. That's over 5 times more pitches than the Red Sox could steal and likely much higher.

I think this also makes the intention/behaviour different. The Astros intended to be able to steal signs for every single pitch. The Red Sox intended to do it for the percentage of that 19% (%pitches where there was a runner at 2nd according to the report) of pitches where the information was wrong.

Granted, but the behavior that was illegal--decoding during the game--was the same. While you accurately reflect Manfred's view, I disagree with it. I'm not going to insist that the RS should have been punished as much as the Astros--again, we've sort of gotten off the central point here, and maybe that's my fault. That was not my original point. My point was only that Kelly was being hypocritical. To conclude that doesn't mean what the RS did was every bit as bad as what the Astros did. It just means that it was illegal, and for the same basic reason. The only thing different is that the RS didn't cheat as much.
Again I think this misses the context of the sport. What the Red Sox did was "accepted cheating". It certainly doesn't make it right, but it's clearly accepted that lots of teams were doing this based on the attitude of players. As such I don't think it's fair to call a player hypocritical for taking action against a team who clearly does something much worse. That's not to say I think they necessarily should, but it was clearly going to happen and the attitude of everyone from the Astros clubhouse to the MLB and Manfred have lead to this.

To use a doping analogy you would probably prefer, though i wouldn't, it's like a rider who used amphetamines in his time criticizing one who took EPO. Yes, the latter is worse, but the rider still appears hypocritical. I don't think that's an accurate analogy here, but if you want to go that way, it still doesn't make Kelly look very good. I suppose by using this, I'm changing the goal posts, but again, I'm just pointing out that even using this more modest comparison of the two teams, Kelly is still somewhat dirty here.
I think this stands if you believe that every rider used amphetamines but only one used EPO. Again, if what the Red Sox did was not accepted in baseball, we'd have seen much more outrage (same when the Yankees did it). The fact we didn't see it (even the New York Post pretty much implied they didn't do anything other clubs weren't doing from an article I read) to me implies that if the Red Sox are dirty for this, everyone is (which basically means no-one is).

Again, I don't buy that the difference matters, or matters that much. It's like saying one rider transfused for MSR, while another transfused for multiple monuments or classics. Or one rider did it on one stage of the TDF, while another did it on multiple stages. Maybe the second rider also took EPO to counteract the suppression of retics, or transfused saline to lower the HT. Or one rider used a centrifuge to separate red cells and freeze them for months, while another had to use the low tech system of withdrawing/transfusing every few weeks. What difference does it make? To WADA, none at all. Your reasoning--and again, I concede this is Manfred's view-- is that the second rider got more of an advantage, and more often, and should be punished more severely. This is not the way doping penalties work. If you want to argue that the two forms of cheating are significantly different, fine, but again, I see enough similarity that Kelly is is a bad position acting self-righteously.
Again, this is why analogies fail. I'm more implying that one rider got caught once taking a sticky bottle and another rider got caught on multiple occasions using EPO.

I don't believe that her case is relevant. It's very different from a doping case. She didn't dope more often or more effectively. She did something else entirely. You can't say that what. the Astros did was entirely different from what the Red Sox did. If the Astros had a bike motor, maybe the RS had a smaller motor running on a much smaller battery.
As above, I'd liken the Red Sox to taking a sticky bottle in a few races and the Astros to all running motors throughout the season. I bring up Femke because she had something she could use whenever she wanted. Dopers can only use things at specific points. But again, it's an analogy which is imperfect and isn't really needed.

Agreed. But generally, the differences are clear. E.g., a supplement that might have been taken inadvertently, instead of intentionally. A threshold drug that has a legitimate use, like salbutamol (though even in these cases, riders frequently get penalized just as much as those guilty of a more obvious and flagrant violation). What the RS did was just as intentional as what the Astros did.
Again, I think the implementation can't be ignored. The Red Sox could only ever steal a much smaller percentage of pitches compared to the Astros who could theoretically steal every pitch. That's clearly very different.

They might not have gotten to the postseason without that system. Yes, they won the division by a huge margin, but again, it's supposed to be the intention that matters.
That team is touted as one of the 10 best teams in baseball history. The likelihood of them not reaching the post-season without this scheme is, in my opinion, about zero. Much, much worse teams make the play-offs every year.

Suppose Contador's CB positive had not come out till years later. Using the RS didn't cheat in the WS logic, you could say that he won the 2011 Giro fairly, because he was clean (we will stipulate) then. The point is if, as was actually the case, he had been caught in 2010, he either wouldn't have been allowed to ride the 2011 Giro, or as actually happened, he was stripped of his results. The "but I didn't cheat then" excuse wouldn't be allowed.

It doesn't work that way in baseball. But again, to judge Kelly, we can surely point out that he was helped in getting to the WS by cheating.
If they had been caught then they would have been fined like the Yankees. They'd still have been in the post-season and chances are they'd still have been in the same position.

I don't think I'm claiming it's all the same. There are lots of other ways to cheat besides sign stealing--doctoring the ball, e.g., corking the bat, interference of various kinds, as well as doping. I'm not saying the penalties for all of these should be the same.
No, but I think you're claiming that sign stealing is sign stealing. I'm saying that the implementation matters (sounds like there is an echo in here) and there is a big difference between stealing a few signs and stealing all of them. This also ties into the previous point about how what the Red Sox did was essentially "accepted" cheating. Chances are this is where we will differ the most.
 
At this point, I’ll just summarize my position. After all this discussion, I’ve been making two main points. First, that what Kelly did was fully deserving of the penalty he got. Maybe you’re right that if he hadn’t thrown at the Astros, he wouldn’t have gotten as much of a penalty, or any at all, but the fact that it was the Astros constituted more evidence that the throwing at hitters was intentional. Given the bad blood between the two teams, everyone predicted this was going to happen, so when it actually did, no one was going to buy the, it was just a mistake.

“Retaliation in-game by throwing at a batter intentionally will not be tolerated,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said during the offseason. "Whether it's Houston or anybody else, it's dangerous, and it is not helpful to the current situation."
https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonywitrado/2020/07/29/joe-kellys-suspension-is-a-new-and-overdue-precedent-set-by-mlb/#784694be584f

We will see, the next time a pitcher intentionally throws at a batter, whether Manfred sticks to this.

As an aside, you point out that Kelly was suspended six games for plunking someone a few years ago. You then characterize the current suspension as four times worse. ???

My second main point is that Kelly was hypocritical. To repeat, I don’t have to argue that what the Red Sox did was comparable to what the Astros did. Maybe I shouldn’t have claimed that, though I’m still prepared to defend it. The fact that the RS did cheat, using real time video, makes what they did, in my view, similar enough to what the Astros did to make Kelly look pompous and self-righteous to me. Your counter to that is that every team, or most of them, probably did what the Red Sox did. So it was (here I go with another analogy) like exceeding the speed limit by 5-10 mph, rather than reckless driving.

But as far as what Watkins was actually doing, again, why would he change signals if not because of real time video? His notes before a game would have been fixed. There would be no way nor reason to update them unless either he was using real time video, or if a runner told him that the signals weren’t appropriate. Maybe sometimes it was the latter, and as you note, this could come out during an appeal. But assuming he was using real time video to decode signs, he was breaking the same rule the Astros were.

At the end of the day, cheating in sports has been sanctioned largely on the basis of intention (even if the athlete is unaware of this, as in the case of a supplement containing a banned substance), not results. Wrt doping, the WADA code makes this crystal clear. An athlete does not have to be shown to have achieved a performance benefit. He only has to be shown to be doing something with that intention:

The success or failure of the Use or Attempted Use of a Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method is not material. It is sufficient that the Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method was Used or Attempted to be Used for an anti-doping rule violation to be committed.
If doping doesn’t have to be successful to constitute a violation, why would any other kind of cheating be, either? You might counter that just because a violation is committed doesn’t mean that the penalty has to be the same in all cases. But again, if the same substance is used, the penalty is the same. There is not one penalty for low tech transfusion, and another for high tech. Why should there be one penalty for low tech sign stealing, and one for higher tech? And in fact, what the Astros did was not really much higher tech. They were just more thorough in using the same technology.

It would be the same with motor doping. If a rider were found to have used a bike with a motor, even if that the motor was too weak to provide a benefit, he’d still be sanctioned. I can't imagine that the watts the motor put out would be relevant to the severity of the penalty.

All that said...

I will concede that sign stealing is unusual in that it has gone on in legal form throughout baseball history. If a runner on second manages to figure out the pitcher's signs, he can communicate that information to his team, and to batters. I've long been struck by this tolerance of cheating, or if one wants, this acceptance of getting an unfair advantage as not cheating. Baseball allows this, basically, because there's no way it can be prevented. You can't ask a runner to avert his eyes from home plate intentionally. It's too easy to watch what's going on. MLB takes the position that the burden is on the pitching team to take the steps necessary to prevent sign stealing at this level.

And once this level of stealing is approved, banning use of video can only be rationalized on the basis that it's more effective. Use of video does not imply that a team is trying to do something that a team without video is not trying to do. The argument is just that it's much more successful. So in that sense, baseball is defining cheating according to the probability of success, unlike doping. Fair enough.

I understand this. But I don't see that what the Astros did was far more successful than what the Red Sox did--or at least what they could have done. Going back to pre video days, it would be like saying that allowing one runner on second per game to steal signs would be accepted, whereas multiple runners would not. Or that the runner could signal to someone in the dugout, but not directly to the batter. There is not an increase in the sophistication of technology going from RS to Astros. It's just that the same basic technology is being employed more often, and is supported by other measures.
 
Sorry, eventful week. Boiling it all down seems sensible, it's getting very long winded.



At this point, I’ll just summarize my position. After all this discussion, I’ve been making two main points. First, that what Kelly did was fully deserving of the penalty he got. Maybe you’re right that if he hadn’t thrown at the Astros, he wouldn’t have gotten as much of a penalty, or any at all, but the fact that it was the Astros constituted more evidence that the throwing at hitters was intentional. Given the bad blood between the two teams, everyone predicted this was going to happen, so when it actually did, no one was going to buy the, it was just a mistake.



https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonywitrado/2020/07/29/joe-kellys-suspension-is-a-new-and-overdue-precedent-set-by-mlb/#784694be584f

We will see, the next time a pitcher intentionally throws at a batter, whether Manfred sticks to this.
Two Astros pitchers hit Laureano in the series with the A's, Castellano hit him twice. Let's see how long they get banned for shall we? I think it's hard to argue that the same guy getting hit three times at shoulder height in the same series just happens to be an accident. They actually hit him too. Wonder if the Astro's batting coach shouting abuse at Laureano will be the only one banned (if he gets a ban).

As an aside, you point out that Kelly was suspended six games for plunking someone a few years ago. You then characterize the current suspension as four times worse. ???
Yes. 8 game suspension over a 60 game season (13% of the season) vs. 6 game suspension over 162 game season (3% of the season).


My second main point is that Kelly was hypocritical. To repeat, I don’t have to argue that what the Red Sox did was comparable to what the Astros did. Maybe I shouldn’t have claimed that, though I’m still prepared to defend it. The fact that the RS did cheat, using real time video, makes what they did, in my view, similar enough to what the Astros did to make Kelly look pompous and self-righteous to me. Your counter to that is that every team, or most of them, probably did what the Red Sox did. So it was (here I go with another analogy) like exceeding the speed limit by 5-10 mph, rather than reckless driving.
Rather than make an analogy just look at the difference in treatment of the Red Sox and the Astros, it's a much better gauge of how people who are actually involved in baseball feel about what both teams did. And as an aside, again, Kelly didn't cheat, or at least it's incredibly unlikely he did. Whether he benefitted from it (and considering the '18 Red Sox are considered one of the greatest teams to exist in baseball the chances of them not reaching the play-offs were pretty much zero) seems like an attempt at guilt by association.

But as far as what Watkins was actually doing, again, why would he change signals if not because of real time video? His notes before a game would have been fixed. There would be no way nor reason to update them unless either he was using real time video, or if a runner told him that the signals weren’t appropriate. Maybe sometimes it was the latter, and as you note, this could come out during an appeal. But assuming he was using real time video to decode signs, he was breaking the same rule the Astros were.
I feel like I'm repeating myself here but lets just outline the differences:

The Astros set up a camera to steal signs. The Red Sox didn't.
The Astros had a direct feed from that camera in the dugout where multiple people could watch footage that was exclusive to them. The red Sox didn't.
The Astros relayed calls from the dugout, meaning they could steal 100% of the signs called. The Red Sox didn't and couldn't.



You can continue making these arguments but you are disagreeing with MLB, the reports, the Commissioner and essentially everyone else in baseball. Being able to steal 100% of something is not the same as being able to steal 20% of it. Neither is right, one is very clearly worse.

All that said...

I will concede that sign stealing is unusual in that it has gone on in legal form throughout baseball history. If a runner on second manages to figure out the pitcher's signs, he can communicate that information to his team, and to batters. I've long been struck by this tolerance of cheating, or if one wants, this acceptance of getting an unfair advantage as not cheating.

Baseball allows this, basically, because there's no way it can be prevented. You can't ask a runner to avert his eyes from home plate intentionally. It's too easy to watch what's going on. MLB takes the position that the burden is on the pitching team to take the steps necessary to prevent sign stealing at this level.
I find this weird. It's not unusual, decoding play calls happens in many sports. Examples have been brought up in this thread. It's not an unfair advantage if every team is allowed to do it and everyone is aware of it. It is part of the sport and there are ways to combat it. The Red Sox method aimed to circumvent one of the ways the fielding team could prevent the runners stealing the signs.

And once this level of stealing is approved, banning use of video can only be rationalized on the basis that it's more effective. Use of video does not imply that a team is trying to do something that a team without video is not trying to do. The argument is just that it's much more successful. So in that sense, baseball is defining cheating according to the probability of success, unlike doping. Fair enough.


I understand this. But I don't see that what the Astros did was far more successful than what the Red Sox did--or at least what they could have done. Going back to pre video days, it would be like saying that allowing one runner on second per game to steal signs would be accepted, whereas multiple runners would not. Or that the runner could signal to someone in the dugout, but not directly to the batter. There is not an increase in the sophistication of technology going from RS to Astros. It's just that the same basic technology is being employed more often, and is supported by other measures.
You don't see it, but the reports do, the Commissioner does, from their conduct every team in MLB does (and we can chuck the Yankees into the mix for their use of an Apple Watch as well) and from the reactions so do the MLB fans. Holding a contrary opinion is fine, but the burden is on you to show why the majority is wrong.

There are plenty of examples of sign stealing in the pre-video days, not sure why you have suggested those weird comparisons. Most of them involve people using telescopes or binoculars to steal the sign and then something like a light or easily seen item to signal the batter.
 
Two Astros pitchers hit Laureano in the series with the A's, Castellano hit him twice. Let's see how long they get banned for shall we? I think it's hard to argue that the same guy getting hit three times at shoulder height in the same series just happens to be an accident. They actually hit him too. Wonder if the Astro's batting coach shouting abuse at Laureano will be the only one banned (if he gets a ban).
Well, we now know that both Laureano and Cintron got suspended, the former apparently for breaking social distancing rules (which logically should have affected all the players in the brawl). Apparently MLB disagrees with you that Laureano was hit intentionally. But it's OK to disagree with MLB, though in your own words, the burden of proof is on you.

Yes. 8 game suspension over a 60 game season (13% of the season) vs. 6 game suspension over 162 game season (3% of the season).
I question this assumption that the suspension should be proportional to the length of the season. The idea is that eight games in a 60 game season is equivalent to 22 games in a 162 game season, because it affects the team’s odds of making the postseason the same. But that assumes that the purpose of the suspension is to penalize the team. Why? Why isn’t the purpose just to penalize the player who committed the infraction? In that case, eight games (since reduced on appeal to five games) affects Kelly or any other player the same, no matter what the length of the season. It’s no more of a penalty for him this year than it would have been last year.

You might argue that Kelly was acting on behalf of the team, so the team has to be punished. But other rules that impact a team’s chances of winning aren’t changed proportionally. Mike Trout was recently allowed three games off for paternity leave. He actually took four, but the team was allowed to replace him on the roster for three games. That three game rule was created for a 162 game season, but it’s the same length for a 60 game season. Why? The team gets a roster benefit for three games, which is the equivalent of eight games in a full season. So didn’t the Angels get an unfair benefit from not reducing the length of the time off?

You would argue that a player needs or deserves three games for such an important event, regardless of the length of the season. But Trout could have taken three games off, regardless. The rule is not really for him or any other player, it’s for the team. Obviously, MLB does not regard the situation as requiring proportionality, so why isn’t the same logic applied to suspensions?

I think the answer to that question is obvious: the same logic is applied to suspensions. Kelly would not have been given a 22 game suspension (13 or 14 now equivalent to 5) if this had been a full season, just as Laureano would not have been given a 16 game suspension instead of six (which is far worse for a position player than eight games is for a reliever), and Cintron would not have been given a 54 game suspension, equivalent to the 20 he actually got.

The suspensions are being given to penalize individuals, not teams. This 22 game talk is just something people opposed to the suspension have brought up to exaggerate the seriousness of the penalty. It happens to have more serious consequences for the team during a short season, just as paternity leave is potentially more beneficial to a team during a short season, but that is just chance. The Dodgers are a little worse off, not because MLB intended to have their postseason chances hurt more (and you know that this penalty has a trivial effect on a stacked team, just as the Red Sox didn’t need to cheat in 2018), but this happened to occur during a short season. That’s just tough luck, and maybe something the team should have considered before telling Kelly to throw at someone.

You can continue making these arguments but you are disagreeing with MLB, the reports, the Commissioner and essentially everyone else in baseball. Being able to steal 100% of something is not the same as being able to steal 20% of it. Neither is right, one is very clearly worse.
Yes, i disagree with MLB to some extent, and am not going to reiterate why, except to repeat that I wasn't claiming that what the Red Sox did was as bad, only that someone associated with that team is hypocritical when calling out others as cheaters. To use your own words, a 20% effective cheater is hypocritical in calling out a 100% effective cheater.

I find this weird. It's not unusual, decoding play calls happens in many sports.
Yes, it does. What's weird is drawing a line at what degree of success at doing it is permitted. I'm not arguing that a line shouldn't be drawn, only that actually doing this is rather strange, and I don't think has much been appreciated during the whole discussion (among everyone, not just between us).

MLB is saying it's OK to steal signals as long as you do it only with your unaided senses. That sounds reasonable, until you consider that the entire game has changed radically from the use of high-powered computer programs to analyze every last aspect of the game. The use of new technology has an effect everywhere, except in the actual playing of the game in real time. Why would anyone be surprised when teams attempt to apply it there?

Google developed some glasses that can be used to keep someone online at all times. Would they be banned from sports, because of their enhancement of analysis and communication? What happens when computers and people become more integrated, which is definitely going to happen at some point? How are you going to stop teams from doing what the Astros did?

So, yes, I find this weird. I frankly think MLB has no clue of the can of worms that is being opened up.
 
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Didn't notice this thread before as I rarely venture into the cesspool that is The Clinic. I can't be bothered reading absolutely everything but I love The Astros Shame Tour on twitter this year. I can't be the only one who loves seeing every dropped ball, every Altuve strikeout etc.

I don't know if this has been touched on yet though, and it's something that came to my mind a few days ago. I have been of the belief for a long time that Schilling, Bonds and Clemens should be in Cooperstown. The arguments have been made by plenty others but they should all be in there in my opinion. When Altuve, Bregman & Correa finish out what might look like HoF-caliber careers though, this will be looming over them. Am I a massive hypocrite for not wanting these three anywhere near the hall despite wanting the others in? There is something incredibly visceral about it all. I also think that this is worse than steroids, but not everyone is of the same opinion.
 
Didn't notice this thread before as I rarely venture into the cesspool that is The Clinic. I can't be bothered reading absolutely everything but I love The Astros Shame Tour on twitter this year. I can't be the only one who loves seeing every dropped ball, every Altuve strikeout etc.

I don't know if this has been touched on yet though, and it's something that came to my mind a few days ago. I have been of the belief for a long time that Schilling, Bonds and Clemens should be in Cooperstown. The arguments have been made by plenty others but they should all be in there in my opinion. When Altuve, Bregman & Correa finish out what might look like HoF-caliber careers though, this will be looming over them. Am I a massive hypocrite for not wanting these three anywhere near the hall despite wanting the others in? There is something incredibly visceral about it all. I also think that this is worse than steroids, but not everyone is of the same opinion.
I suppose you could argue that if Schilling doesn't get in because of the "character clause" then should any Astros who were part of that system get in? Schilling seems pretty reprehensible, but I'm sure there's other players in there who were/are as bad but less vocal. There are baseball arguments for why Schilling shouldn't be there, but I don't think those would be being made if it weren't for what he does/says/did/said.

Bonds and Clemens is a typical clinic argument. Should they be punished for doing something many others no doubt did, but didn't get caught doing. Personally I think they should and they don't get in. They took the chance, they pay the price. Can't catch everyone, but that doesn't mean the ones who do get caught get a pass. McGwire didn't get in either (although Rodriguez did).

Is cheating worse than steroids? That's a really difficult one. With steroids you still have to hit, and Bonds was a fantastic hitter. I don't think steroids changes that, the steroids meant more of those hits were homers. Hitting with power is easier to train than hitting. For Clemens it's a bit different. Steroids change more about his game. (Also, 1 Pennant with the Red Sox and 2 World Series with the Yankees? Definitely doesn't get in ;) ).
Now cheating means it's much easier to swing or leave it, essentially affecting the harder part of batting, but it only works when they are cheating. It's not going to have as long an effect as steroids.

My biggest problem with the cheating is still the lack of apologies, real penalties and the MLB protection. (Chapman gets a 3 game suspension for very obviously throwing a fastball directly at Brosseau's head. Not breaking balls or behind him, directly at his head. Tanaka threw a fastball straight into Wendle's ribs and got no suspension. #freejoekelly).
 

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