February 13, 2020

The Astros Cheating Was An Open Secret Throughout Baseball For Four Seasons. MLB Received Complaints From 10-12 Teams And Did Nothing. Rob Manfred Must Resign.

Commissioner Rob Manfred must resign, immediately.

Since 2016, it had been common knowledge throughout baseball that the Houston Astros were blatantly "cheating their asses off". One team executive told the Washington Post, "Everybody knew it." It was "a big, open secret" among players, scouts, front office executives, even clubhouse staff members.

Executives from two separate clubs told the Post they believed roughly 10-12 teams had filed complaints about the Astros with MLB during the last three or four seasons. If any investigations were done, no one has uttered a peep about it.

Speaking of not uttering a peep, last November, MLB instructed personnel from all 30 teams to not speak to the media about the Astros and the sign-stealing scandal.

Now we know a big reason why.

Barry Svrluga and Dave Sheinin, Washington Post, February 11, 2020:
The Astros' system for using electronics to steal signs came into full public view Nov. 12 ... in a story published by the Athletic. ...

According to people at all levels throughout the sport — players, clubhouse staff members, scouts and executives — the idea that the Astros employed nefarious methods was an open secret.

"The whole industry knows they've been cheating their asses off for three or four years," said an executive from a team that faced the Astros in the playoffs during that span. "Everybody knew it."

Like most of the people interviewed for this story, the executive spoke on the condition of anonymity to defy an MLB request that personnel from other teams refrain from speaking freely about the Astros. He estimated "10 to 12" teams had complained to MLB about the Astros over the years. An executive from another team agreed with that number. ... [The Athletics were one of those teams.]

"It was a big open secret, really big," said a veteran scout from another team whose coverage included the Astros. "Throughout baseball, throughout the scouting community, for several years, not just starting in 2017. I would say probably 2016, maybe earlier, through [2019], things were going on that were blatantly against the rules."

Into this arena stepped the Nationals, appearing in the World Series for the first time in October. ... [A]n entire sport that had a vested interest in having anyone but the Astros win the championship.

As one member of the Nationals put it, "It was amazing, once [it was assured] we were playing the Astros, how many people were coming out of the woodwork to let us know what they were doing." ...

"It was all brought up" in the advance reports the scout handed over to his superiors, one AL scout said. "It was as much a part of the report as anything else, because we had to be prepared to counter it, if that were possible. [Use] a bunch of sign systems . . . just any way possible to try to combat an advantage we all knew they had but couldn't do anything about. It felt helpless. You felt silly almost, sitting there knowing [they were doing something] but having to just put it in a report as if it was a normal thing to contend with. It sucked." ...

One AL executive described meetings of his team's analytics department. The members were so frazzled before playing Houston that they seemed almost resigned to the idea, as the executive said, that "we can't beat them if they're cheating." ...

Many in baseball are asking why it took a whistleblower — Fiers, the former Astros pitcher — to spark MLB to action when so many people had suspected the Astros of wrongdoing for years, with some taking the extra step of reporting those suspicions to MLB. ...

"This is really frustrating," Nationals closer Sean Doolittle tweeted last week. "A month after MLB's report and all we have now is more evidence and more questions. . . . The integrity of the game is at stake and players and fans deserve some answers. ... [P]ast outcomes are being second guessed and even future games will be cast in doubt. There can be no redemption arc after an institutionalized scandal like this until there's some accountability."
Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports, February 12, 2020:
An MLB spokesman told the Post "[w]e investigate any allegation that's brought to this office," but provided no evidence of what, if any, investigation was undertaken on the power of those 10-12 complaints ... [K]nowing what we know and having seen what MLB has done in the wake of public allegations, it's not unreasonable to believe that such investigations were perfunctory at best ... [or] that anything one could reasonably call an "investigation" was undertaken at all. ...

[T]wo things are abundantly clear: first, any claim by Rob Manfred that he did not know what the Astros were up to prior to November 2019 is simply not credible. And second, the fact that Rob Manfred knew about it and simply did nothing about it before November 2019 was simply reckless.

[Cheating by many teams, not just the Astros] affected the outcome of baseball games. It affected the outcome of series. It affected the outcome of postseasons. ... It stuck a blow to the very basis of competitive sports, which is the notion that the competitions are inherently fair ones.

[At its core] The Commissioner's job [is] ... to ensure the health and integrity of the sport. ... It is a purpose that Rob Manfred, who seems to be far more interesting in making this scandal disappear from the headlines than in comprehensively addressing it, is failing to adequately undertake. ...

Opposing players are angry. Opposing managers, coaches, scouts and executives are angry. ... It's not something that is simply going away because Rob Manfred issued a report last month and suspended a couple of guys.

Indeed, Rob Manfred is one of the primary reasons it's not going to go away. The scandal was allowed to persist because of his failure to act on what we know to have been common knowledge inside the game about the Astros cheating and his failure to act specifically on the at least 10-12 team complaints lodged to Major League Baseball about it. ...

Rob Manfred has utterly mishandled the sign-stealing scandal. And, at this point, it is not enough for him to simply vow to do better. He is obligated, for the sake of his legitimacy as Commissioner of Baseball and for the sake of the game itself, to answer publicly for why he let it get to this state in the first place.
It doesn't matter why Rob Manfred allowed the Astros (and who knows how many other teams) to cheat for several seasons.

The fact remains: He did allow it.

And he must resign.

2 comments:

FenFan said...

I echo your sentiments from the other day: I miss Bud Selig, and I hated Bud Selig.

The latter spent years denying that there was a PED problem in baseball until the proof became too great, and then put all the burden of proof on the players while others with clear knowledge of the situation got off scott free (I'm looking at you, Tony LaRussa).

If all this is true, then Manfred should do what's honorable and resign. But he won't...

GK said...

Manfred seems to to be a bot. His solutions to reduce lengths of game or the pathetic attempts at revamping playoffs all seem to stem from alorithms written with a dollar value as output. Designed to bring value to advertisers and to try and increase TV viewership or increase MLB's leverage for the next media contract. Nothing about how late and really late start times,especially for playoffs, has killed off interest for an entire generation of young viewers. Now those young viewers have grown up and have kids. You think they will go out of their way to let their kids stay up for a 10.00 pm start time?