Sign stealing is normal, the Astros ruined it

There is no denying that the world of baseball was brought to a standstill with the MLB’s investigation into the accusation of the Houston Astros cheating with technology and winning in the 2017 World Series. 

On January 13, MLB announced the suspension of Astros manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnnow. Astros owner Jim Crane announced their termination later that day. A couple of days later, Alex Cora, the bench coach for the Astros in 2017, was the next one to go. Carlos Beltran, who played for the Astros in 2017, was released as manager for the New York Mets later that week. 


So what did the Astros do? Simple. In the tunnel between the clubhouse and the dugout, a monitor was set up with a live feed from a camera in center field pointed at the pitchers mound and home plate. Team players and employees would watch this screen and try to decode signs.


When a sign was decoded, the Astros would relay the pitching sign to the batter with the loud banging of a trash can. The banging signaled any offspeed pitch or breaking ball. 


The question is being asked if whether or not the Astros or Red Sox should be stripped of their World Series titles. On Wednesday morning, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that he has no plans to strip the World Series titles from the Red Sox or the Astros. Regardless of this fact, there is a much bigger picture to understand.


With all of these accusations coming out in the media, it’s important to remember the big picture: cheating happens, whether we like it or not. When it comes down to figuring how the evidence is presented as cheating, they come in many different forms. 


As for sign stealing, there is a large gray area, and its tradition has been in question since baseball’s genesis. Everyone on the field and in the dugout are in constant communication with each other. Coaches are constantly relaying signs to their catchers, who after relay pitch signs to their pitcher. 


In the game of baseball, the batter only gets three chances to get on base or hit the ball and as the count changes, so does the pitch meaning, the batter must adapt. 


If the players on the bench pick up on signs, and are able to do it honestly, then it is on the opposing team to figure out a new sequence of signs. The pitcher and catcher must adapt. 


What the Astros committed was a breach of morality upon the games tradition. Sign stealing has been around longer than any of us and will be here long after us. It’s the nature of the game. Any honest advantage helps, but no team should be given this easy form of cheating. If the Astros had to cheat this hard to win a title, it tarnishes the process the 29 teams in the league have to go through. 


However, the game will continue to evolve and adapt. Players and coaches will follow along. As for sign stealing, the tradition may not fade away, but will still be a topic of conversation for the months to come. 


Thank you Astros. You have now lost on two parts: your title and respect that goes along with the title. Good luck this season.


The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.


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