The Houston Astros Cheating Scandal and Legal Education

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Mike Barry, the Dean of the South Texas College of Law, sent an insightful message to the students and faculty concerning the Houston Astros cheating scandal. With his permission, I reproduce it here.

I long have been a fan of baseball.  I particularly appreciate how baseball is, in many ways, a great metaphor for life.  For instance, baseball understands that one doesn't succeed every time.  Indeed, a batter who fails on fewer than seven out of ten attempts is considered a pretty good hitter, and a team that wins 100 games (just under 62% of the 162 games each season) is considered exceptional; that's a good reminder on days when things don't necessarily go our way.

I also like that, as in real life, data can be used to improve performance, whether it is the spin on a slider or the likelihood that a batter will hit to a particular field; in the real world, we do the same (for instance, how we here are at South Texas are using data to assist those taking the bar exam so that they can succeed on their first attempt).  There also is a workmanlike quality to baseball, as the players are on the field virtually every day during the season –  going about their business, day in and day out; similarly, those in the working world face similar expectations.  And, the little things matter in baseball, whether it is the code of the game (don't admire a home run you just hit, for instance) or how little improvements in a pitcher's mechanics or a batter's approach can yield significant results.  I find that in life, little things matter, too – such as how each of us can attempt to treat our coworkers and colleagues with respect and can try to improve, even just a little, on the day before.

But, the latest issues involving the Astros stealing signals in violation of Major League Baseball rules reveal some potentially significant life lessons, as well, for those of us in the study of the practice of law.  Here are three conclusions that I might ask you to consider, and some questions that those conclusions prompt:

First, culture starts at the top.  Many of you will run your own law firms.  Others will rise to prominent positions in government, the judiciary, business, and the legal community.  And, regardless of the role you find yourself in, you will be a leader for, at the very least, your clients and your staff.  You will set the tone for those who work for you and who work with you.  In the case of the Astros, one line from the findings (which are attached) is particularly telling:

Many of the players who were interviewed admitted that they knew the scheme was wrong because it crossed the line from what the player believed was fair competition and/or violated MLB rules. Players stated that if Manager A.J. Hinch told them to stop engaging in the conduct, they would have immediately stopped.

I added the emphasis.  If the manager – their on-field leader – had told the players to stop, they would have done so.  When you are a leader, your action – or your inaction – speaks volumes.  What you tolerate, you teach.  What you condone, you own.  Every leader must set not only a culture of ethical conduct, but must identify and eliminate behavior that deviates from that standard.  Here's how the report identifies those responsibilities:

to adequately manage the employees under their supervision, to establish a culture in which adherence to the rules is ingrained in the fabric of the organization, and to stop bad behavior as soon as it occur[s].

At all times, each of us should ask two questions of ourselves:  Are you proud of the culture of the organization for which you have responsibility?  If not, what will you do as the leader to change it?

Second, mind the grey areas.  Some have suggested that the Astros' practices were not specifically prohibited by the relevant rules at the time; others are convinced that the rules were explicit.  Regardless, there was enough specificity that players and the manager collectively knew that what they were doing wasn't proper.   As attorneys in practice and students of the law, we understand better than most that there invariably are grey areas; in fact, we have a responsibility to represent our clients zealously, and much of that zealous representation is conducted in those interstices.  It is how we deal with those uncertainties, however, that reveals our character and our commitment to justice.  There is letter and spirit to the law.  There are larger issues of justice.  And, there often are issues beyond the legal concerns; personal, professional, and business interests typically must also be considered.  It is important not only to have your own moral compass to guide you through these grey areas, but also to have a group of trusted friends, mentors, and advisors to use as beacons and north stars.  The advantage of our profession is that there always are folks we can call when uncertain, individuals with more expertise and / or distance from the issue to help ensure that we are making the right calls.  Who are those mentors for you?  On whom can you rely for wisdom?

Third, actions have consequences, and reputations are easily damaged.  In this day and age, when just about everything we say, do, type, or search is recorded, we are creating a seemingly endless record of our actions.  As a result, it is increasingly unlikely that bad activities will remain undiscovered.  And, if and when that misconduct is identified, there will be a paper trail (in the case of the Astros, some 70,000 emails were reviewed).  Here, the Astros were fined the maximum amount possible under MLB's constitution, lost several prime draft choices, and now have a perceptional asterisk next to their World Series victory.  Their reputation (and that of several of their leaders) is tarnished.  If an attorney were involved in a comparable scheme in the legal domain, sanctions could include the loss of the client's case, financial penalties against the attorney and / or the client, and professional discipline for the attorney (up to and including disbarment – a prohibition on ever practicing again).  And, once an attorney's reputation has been tarnished, an attorney can find it well-nigh impossible to restore it.  That is why we tell every 1L at Orientation that your reputation begins in law school – and that it should be jealously guarded.  Your actions will bolster or undercut your reputation.  Are you comfortable that your activities withstand that review?

There likely are many more lessons to be considered from this situation; I expect that the Harvard Business School and major magazines soon will publish a case study on the Astros and the leadership and management failures that permitted this scandal.  And, as with anything in sports, others may see the situation differently and reach different conclusions.  But for me, these three lessons – and the questions they prompt – seem most relevant for us in the practice and study of law.

The report concludes that the Astros created a culture "that valued and rewarded results over other considerations."  We, as attorneys and leaders, have a responsibility – as officers of the court and as individuals entrusted by society with significant powers – to understand and weigh those other considerations, as well.  How we do so will reverberate for our clients, our professional careers, and our communities – potentially for years to come.

I agree entirely with Dean Barry. If a Professor was aware his students were cheating, but took no steps to stop the cheating, the Professor should be fired. If a Dean even had an inkling that students were cheating, but took no further actions to investigate, he should be fired.

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  1. “. If a Professor was aware his students were cheating, but took no steps to stop the cheating, the Professor should be fired. If a Dean even had an inkling that students were cheating, but took no further actions to investigate, he should be fired.”

    What if a student’s parent did something to get their kid into my class, but the kid him or herself didn’t participate or even know about the actions taken to advance their candidacy for admission? Who should be fired?

    1. Send the parent to jail. 🙂

      Just ask Ms. Huffman about that….

      1. It turns out that instructors don’t have the authority to send anyone to jail.

  2. Interesting comparison. I (I admit it; I’m a lifelong Dodgers fan.) understand why the Commissioner did not award the 2017 World Series award to the Dodgers, even though they would have won sans cheating . . . that’s not how a team should get a championship. What is weird to me is that (Houston had top draft picks taken away as part of its punishment) the Dodgers were not awarded those picks . . . the Dodgers were, after all, the direct victims of the World Series cheating.

    [One minor quibble. “Indeed, a batter who fails on fewer than seven out of ten attempts is considered a pretty good hitter,…” In today’s game, a batter who is hitting over .300 is seen as exceptional, rather than merely “pretty good.” But your point was well-taken, nevertheless.]

    1. ” What is weird to me is that (Houston had top draft picks taken away as part of its punishment) the Dodgers were not awarded those picks . . . the Dodgers were, after all, the direct victims of the World Series cheating.”

      The short answer here is, the Dodgers weren’t the only victims of the Astros sign stealing scandal. Indeed, the scheme was used throughout the regular season and playoffs, ending up with many victims and losses by many teams.

      Would the Dodgers have won if they had faced the Yankees instead? Hard to tell in hindsight with any certainty. What is certain is both teams suffered from the Astros cheating, as well as every other team the Astros played. To single out “one” team for reparations when all others suffered would be irresponsible, and generate conflict.

      1. Would the Dodgers have won if they had faced the Yankees instead?

        Or the Red Sox, for that matter?

        the Dodgers weren’t the only victims of the Astros sign stealing scandal. Indeed, the scheme was used throughout the regular season and playoffs, ending up with many victims and losses by many teams.

        And this makes the simple loss of draft picks, without reallocation, appropriate, as it makes every other team marginally better relative to the Astros.

        1. The title could be vacated. No winner in 2017.

          1. Damn straight!
            🙁

      2. Don’t forget the corollary, the Astros weren’t the only team illegally stealing signs as seen by the MLB letter to the Red Sox in September of the same year. Hence the reason for the letter and warning being sent to all teams. Not to mention continuing investigations of other teams that were using the same method.

        What I find interesting is that MLB allowed the center field cameras in the first place. IMHO for TV purposes where one can see the catcher giving signs to the pitcher. Not to mention continuing to allow the cameras operation, after the Red Sox sign stealing earlier in the year, instead of just moving them to a position where the signs couldn’t be seen.

        BTW: Sign stealing is allowed, one could say encouraged. It is the usage of technology for sign stealing that is not allowed. How could MLB not know that the center field cameras would be used to steal signs? Hell, teams have been using video of games for years for the same purpose; the only difference is this occurred in real time instead of prior to the game.

    2. Interesting comparison. I (I admit it; I’m a lifelong Dodgers fan.) understand why the Commissioner did not award the 2017 World Series award to the Dodgers, even though they would have won sans cheating

      That’s BS. You don’t know if Houston would have won anyway without the cheating, and you also don’t know if one of the teams Houston beat in the earlier rounds of the playoffs would have beat the Dodgers.

      The Dodgers didn’t get the titles because they lost the series. It would have been a cheap, undeserved, phony title if either had been given to them.

      Now, you CAN make an argument for VACATING the title. That’s what the NCAA did to USC when it cheated in football- they vacated all the wins.

      Nor should the Dodgers get those draft picks. Again, the Dodgers don’t deserve them, and it would be unfair to the entire American League that was also a victim of Houston’s cheating.

      What you are is not a fan, but a homer. You are just trying to get MLB to cheat in favor of the Dodgers. Which makes you just as bad as the Astros organization.

      1. Yes, I am a homer. Admitted. Since I made the same point (that it would have been wrong to give the title to the Dodgers) well before you posted, you already know we’re in agreement there.
        You seem to think that the idea of giving the draft picks to the Dodgers is TOTALLY RIDICULOUS. So much so, that anyone who suggests it is *Just. As. Bad.* as the team who cheated. To me, that seems to be a moronic comparison. There are lots of good arguments *against* my suggestion, and I do not think people who make those arguments are awful evil people. You usually post here in measured terms, and I’m surprised that you see my suggestion as So. Extreme., so bizarre, so Obviously Wrong, that it makes me (for merely making the suggestion) just as morally awful as a team that totally fucked over each and every team during an 81-game season (ie, home games for them), and fucked over a few teams even more during the postseason. The strength and vitriol of your comment towards me is noted. I’m surprised and disappointed by it, but I do support your right to say it here, of course. 🙂
        (p.s., I think the Yankees easily might have beaten the Dodgers that year. Man, that would have been a great Series, and seeing that is another thing Houston cheated all of us out of.)

        1. OK, I will make this a little more clear. Giving a windfall of draft picks to the Dodgers would create a competitive imbalance, and would benefit the Dodgers at the expense of all the other teams that the Astros also injured.

          By doing so, MLB would thus be assisting the Dodgers in winning future games and championships that they did not earn. Which is, in my mind, a form of cheating.

          As for the vitriol, the point I was trying to make is that there’s really no justification for doing things that just gift-wrap benefits for the Dodgers. Houston’s rule violations injured the league, full stop. And I am kind of sick of hearing Dodgers fans around town seeing this as some sort of opportunity to capitalize and notch some championships. But if I came off too harsh, I apologize.

    3. “…even though they would have won sans cheating . . ”

      As a former Expos fan turned Dodgers fan (because of the Montreal Royals farm team), I’m not sure about that. It’s possible but we’ll never know. It’s worth noting, the Astros apparently did this at home and the Dodgers failed to take care of business on their turf.

  3. “If the manager – their on-field leader – had told the players to stop, they would have done so. ”

    Instead he passively aggresively destroyed video monitors.

  4. Does this logic apply to the sanctified offices of District Attorneys and Attorneys General? Or, is the fact that cheating there cannot be prosecuted because of absolute immunity mean that when they do it, it’s not really cheating?

  5. I long have been a fan of baseball…. Indeed, a batter who fails on fewer than seven out of ten attempts is considered a pretty good hitter

    The dean may be a fan, but he certainly doesn’t keep up with the times. A .300 on-base percentage (meaning you “fail” seven out of ten times) would be awful. I assume he’s referring to batting average, but everyone nowadays recognizes that batting average is among the least informative measures of whether someone is a “good hitter,” since it fails to take into account walks or power. A .300 singles hitter without power or a good walk rate would not be considered a very valuable hitter. I don’t expect the dean to toss out WAR or wRC+, but if he wants to avoid eye rolls, he should at least think about using OPS.

  6. Many of the players who were interviewed admitted that they knew the scheme was wrong because it crossed the line from what the player believed was fair competition and/or violated MLB rules. Players stated that if Manager A.J. Hinch told them to stop engaging in the conduct, they would have immediately stopped.

    I find it odd that players were not penalized. They knew they were cheating, without Hinch having to tell them. Some got awards, some may have gotten better contracts, all got post-season money that they should not be entitled to.

    Maybe they should have to cough up at least some of the post-season money.

    1. If I wasn’t a huge fan of Altuve, I’d say give his MVP to Judge.

    2. “I find it odd that players were not penalized.”

      Union issues. Management has no appeal or grievance rights.

      Cora, a senior member of management, arranged and drove it. Hinch knew and did nothing effective to stop it.

    3. Yes. They’re not children but Hinch failed to lead.

      It’s odd because apparently they didn’t want to deal with the PU – which if it true, shows some weakness. If the PU is that strong, then that can be perceived to not be a good thing for the game. While MLB handled this as well as they could, they could have really driven a stake into it by dealing with the players who deserve some form of punishment.

  7. Definitely a good article about leadership, but I do take issue with one part of your comparison.

    “If a Professor was aware his students were cheating, but took no steps to stop the cheating, the Professor should be fired. If a Dean even had an inkling that students were cheating, but took no further actions to investigate, he should be fired.”

    Knowing students, I think you could easily make the argument that professors should always have an inkling that students are cheating. It’s their MO. I doubt you meant this, but the wording sounds like the justifications people offer for constant surveillance and I definitely don’t want organizational culture to be void of trust.

  8. Jesus, the way that men are talking about this is driving up the wall. They’re talking about it like it’s some kind of earth-shattering deal.

    NOT EVERYONE FOLLOWS SPORTSBALL OR GETS YOUR STUPID ANALOGIES.

    This is an entertainment industry. It’s like a bunch of clucking fags dishing about who saw the Oscar envelopes when. You all sound like colossal simpletons.

    1. C’mon everyone, please stop talking about things Simon is not interested in.

      Fun fact, can’t spell “simpleton” without simon.

      1. The way people are talking about it makes clear that they are entirely oblivious to the triviality of the matter. I am doing them a service by pointing it out.

        1. The irony of ranting about people taking it too seriously is apparently lost on you.

          1. As is the meaning of “irony,” for you, apparently.

            I’m not exaggerating when I say that the office conversations among men in my office have circulated around this very story almost continuously since it broke. That’s all they want to talk about. Even here, in the comments, you can’t avoid people opining about some nuance of the “scandal,” and apparently the dean of the OP’s fourth-tier law school feels that it is so universally understood that it can serve as some kind of “teaching moment.”

            Like I said, this is not a universal experience. This is some irrelevant development that matters only to straight men, and they need to shut the fuck up about it.

            1. “need”

              Just ignore it. No one is making you read this blog post or even listen to men in your office.

              Men talk about sports. Shocking.

              Whats with the gay/straight thing anyways? Gays don’t like sports?

              1. Bob,
                The gay men (at least, the men who are “out”) in my work circle and friends circle are–with only one exception–huge sports fans. I have to believe that Simon is a troll . . . NO ONE is actually surprised that men sometimes/often talk or rant or whine about sports–it’s one of the huge bonding benefits about sports in general, no? I have had to suffer through dinner parties with my female friends spending the entire 3 hours dissecting and chin-wagging about the most recent episode of “The Bachelor.” Yes, I do have to grit my teeth, but the concept that “People bond over shared interests.” seems so non-controversial that . . . well, I’m circling back to “Simon’s trolling!” again.

                1. The gay men (at least, the men who are “out”) in my work circle and friends circle are–with only one exception–huge sports fans.

                  What, do you know, like, two?

                  I have had to suffer through dinner parties with my female friends spending the entire 3 hours dissecting and chin-wagging about the most recent episode of “The Bachelor.”

                  That’s my only point here. Men talking about the fucking Astros is like women chin-wagging about the Bachelor. It’s ridiculously inane.

                  1. And yet, you chose to wade into the debate.

                    (Sigh). And now, so have I.

              2. Just ignore it. No one is making you read this blog post or even listen to men in your office.

                You don’t work in an office, apparently. Conversations can be unavoidable when they occur, say, just outside your office door, or occupy half of the scheduled time for a group meeting.

                Men talk about sports. Shocking.

                Yeah, and they sound like utter imbeciles when they do it. Like I said, just offering a mirror here.

                Whats with the gay/straight thing anyways? Gays don’t like sports?

                No.

                1. SimonP has apparently never heard of the WNBA.

                  1. You’re right, the men in my office don’t talk incessantly about the WNBA or any other women’s sports.

                    1. That’s because gays like the WNBA, not straights.

                    2. That’s because gays like the WNBA, not straights.

                      False.

                    3. True.

                      Look, I don’t know what to tell you. You probably know only a handful of gay people, if that, and if they are into sportsball, they must be the kinds of miserable self-hating types who grew up in ‘Murica and don’t have lots of gay friends.

                      I’m gay, and I know and have known tons of gay people. Sportsball lovers are in the vast minority – none of my friends – and we certainly don’t give a shit about the WNBA. We might be all, “Women rock! You go show ’em how it’s done!”, but the only gay I know who would go to a game is a business/philanthropy type who would do it as a networking thing.

                    4. I’m shocked that an insufferable prick like you hangs out with other insufferable pricks. Doesn’t change the facts though.

                    5. I’m shocked that an insufferable prick like you hangs out with other insufferable pricks. Doesn’t change the facts though.

                      I have no idea how you think you’ve inferred that my friends are “insufferable pricks” from the fact that they’re not into sportsball.

                      I do, however, find it amusing how you take our non-engagement with sportsball as indicative of our being “insufferable.” Dudebros are such snowflakes. Get over it, honey.

            2. apparently the dean of the OP’s fourth-tier law school feels that it is so universally understood

              The school is located in Houston.

              1. That’s a fair point. It’s unlikely that anyone outside of Houston is going to the law school, and few of those that do are likely to have hobbies or interests more intellectually challenging than sportsball.

  9. Personally, I don’t understand why baseball prohibits this anyway. Sign stealing is just gamesmanship- and certain forms of it are still legal anyway!

    1. Sign stealing is not prohibited.
      Using technology in real time is prohibited.

      1. It’s an arbitrary distinction. Both or neither could be reasonably prohibited, though enforcing the low-tech ban would be hard.

        1. Yep.

          And in any event, why exactly does it harm the game? There are counter-measures.

          1. I think that baseball should (and does) try to ban tricks and techniques that only one side can take advantage of. I think the game (writ large) is harmed when this is allowed. In this case, the cheating was something that a home team can do, while the visiting team cannot. Stealing signs via a runner on 2nd base, on the other hand, is a technique that is equally available to both sides.
            Back in the day, when all fields were non-artificial; when the visiting team had a really fast player, some home teams would turn the dirt between bases into mud, to take away the advantage of that player’s speed. Cheating? Don’t think so, since it did affect both teams in the same way. (As you can tell, talking about baseball is absolutely a more-worthwhile activity than Shepardizing cases.)

            1. I think that baseball should (and does) try to ban tricks and techniques that only one side can take advantage of. I think the game (writ large) is harmed when this is allowed. In this case, the cheating was something that a home team can do, while the visiting team cannot. Stealing signs via a runner on 2nd base, on the other hand, is a technique that is equally available to both sides.

              This is a good point. There are other reasons as well.

              When there is a danger of sign-stealing the catcher and pitcher (does anyone still call them the “battery?”) change the signs to make them more complex. This often requires discussion to be sure they are in agreement, and these meetings slow the game. Now, since MLB has adopted a rule limiting the number of mound visits, players keep the codes on sheets tucked into their caps, which they then consult, still taking time.

              Another issue is effectiveness. Technology is going to do better than the guy to second base, because he has other things to pay attention to. Also, runners on second only see pitches thrown while they are there. Cameras see them all. When sign-stealing gets too effective, and too frequent, it changes the game.

              Fundamentally, human sign-stealing is part of the game, using your observations of the opponents to try to figure out their intentions. That’s a part of almost all games. But using technology isn’t.

              In a way, it’s no different than rules prescribing what equipment is legal and what isn’t.

              1. So it’s part of the home field advantage! Doesn’t bother me.

                You know what’s also part of the home field advantage? Fan interference. Fans in the front rows (except Steve Bartman) back off when the home player is making a play and stand their ground when the visiting player is making a play. Does MLB try to stop this by putting some distance between the stands and the field? Nope.

                Crowd noise is also part of the home field advantage. Etc.

                So you can steal signs at home. Doesn’t bother me.

                I accept MLB’s action, because there is a rule and the Astros violated it. But it wouldn’t bother me at all if there were no rule. Heck, it wouldn’t bother me if they put a TV in every dugout so everyone could do it.

                1. Would it bother you if the games got even longer, as pitchers and catchers consulted the sheets in their caps after every pitch?

                  The rules of any game are essentially arbitrary, but evolve in the direction of making the game more interesting or, very similarly, defeating tactics that are too effective.

                  This is just another example.

  10. I’ve read the following somewhere long time ago, so I won’t claim originality for the insight. Here’s the difference between cricket, the quintessential English game, and American baseball. In cricket, players live by an individual code that transcends the game. You don’t cheat. If you make an error that is unelected by the umpire or the opposing team, you voluntarily own up to it, confess, and take a penalty. A “gentleman’s code”, if you wish. Same thing in golf, and it used to be in tennis too. But baseball has always been different. Players are expected to go just up to the limit of all rules, and — if they can get away with it — step over it. Corking bats, scuffing balls, spitting on balls, pretending a catch was good when it wasn’t, etc. etc. Sign stealing is therefore just an expected part of a game that has a traditional ethos. And, this is the point, it’s a very American ethos — baseball is definitely not a gentleman’s game. It’s as American as apple pie, and if you don’t have apples in your pie and no one notices, good for you — you got away with something. This is the ethos that nowadays invades our politics. And, I believe, law as well. I’m an immigrant, and I love living in the US, but this part of the culture really turns me off. When I was teaching college, cheating was obvious and prevalent. Universities nowadays liberally bend rules for political purposes. I fervently wish that this were not the American ethos, but it is. This is a baseball nation, and no amount of harrumphing on the part of snobs running MLB will ever change that. People here are not really honest, at heart. They always try to get away with things, and get an edge. How’s your tax preparation going, gentlemen? I thought as much.

    1. Honestly, I am not a fan of “self-policing” in sports. They do that in golf and the results are ridiculous, with golfers suspended for “dishonesty’ when they made an honest mistake and signed their scorecards.

      Human officials are necessary because human beings are competing.

      1. That’s a function of golf having stupid nitpicky rules, not of self-policing.

    2. My favorite example of this is ‘framing’ a pitch. (i.e., When a catcher catches a pitch that is just outside the strike zone, he will quickly move his glove inside the zone, in an effort to fool the home plate umpire into–incorrectly–calling a strike.) It’s now [just in the last several years] a metric that catchers are graded on and ranked on, and one or two catchers have a well-earned reputation as the best framers (ie, legally-approved cheaters) in the game–and having such a catcher makes a big difference, over the long haul, in the effectiveness of his pitching staff.
      I am not convinced that this a uniquely-American sporting trait. Football/soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and people flop (ie, cheat by pretending to have been fouled) All The Time. Alas. It’s more fun–as a spectator–to watch flopping/diving in soccer than to watch cheating in other sports . . . soccer players are perfectly happy to fling themselves to the ground, writhe in pretend pain, roll in agony along the soccer pitch for a quarter mile, etc. It can be hysterically-funny. As we used to say in the stage: If you’re gonna act, you might as well overact.

    3. You’re just another ignoramus who thinks cheating of some kind is a uniquely American phenomenon. Cheating in sports, as well as corruption of all kinds, theft, blackmail, extortion, fixing of gambling, adultery, murder, and every other crime or moral indiscretion, were well established in the “known world” long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

      Cricket? How about this:

      ” In the late 18th century, when cricket was very largely a gambling game, whole teams were bribed to throw matches. In 1817, William Lambert, the greatest batsman of his era, was forced out of cricket for corruption. Around the same time, there was a farcical match between England and Nottinghamshire in which both sides had sold the match, so batsmen were trying to get out to bowlers who were doing their best to avoid taking wickets.”

      http://www.espncricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/153196.html

      How about the 2018 Australian cricket cheating scandal?

      Fuck you, and your anti-American bias.

      1. What are you talking about? It’s a proven fact that sign-stealing is uniquely American. It’s practically science.

    4. Are you suggesting Europeans don’t cheat?

  11. The problem of deliberate rule breaking in sports is much wider than this. For example, I’ve heard that basketball players will deliberately commit fouls just because they’d rather pay the penalty than allow an easy basket.

    The relationship between rules, morality, and justice is much more complicated than this article suggests.

    1. That’s just an efficient breach of the contract.

      1. Or else civil disobedience.

  12. Lost in all the whining by Dodger fans (the Astros stealing signs had nothing to do with Yu Darvish giving up 5 runs in the first two innings of Game 7 or Cody Bellinger striking out 17 times), is that there’s little evidence that the Astros actually benefited from their scheme.

    During the 2017 regular season, the Astros had the best offense in the MLB, leading in Total Bases, RBIs, Average, OBP, SLG, and OPS. On the road. They didn’t lead in any of those categories at home, and their home stats all trailed their road stats for those categories. It’s quite possible that the distraction caused by listening for the signals offset the benefit of knowing what type of pitch was coming.

    1. So cheating is OK if it doesn’t help you?

      1. Where did I say that? Cheating that doesn’t help you is a terrible idea. That’s why the Astros stopped voluntarily when they realized it wasn’t working.

        Much of the outrage is based on the idea that the Astros gained a benefit from stealing signs, but people are merely assuming there was a benefit when there very well might not have been. And this cuts against the arguments by whiny Dodger fans, now including the LA city council, that they would have won the World Series if the Astros hadn’t been cheating.

  13. This scandal is so stupid because what the Astros did was so easy to do and I bet most teams were doing it. In fact MLB should have been using technology that the NFL has been using for years to let the pitchers, catchers, and coaches be in constant communication with headsets. I mean how dumb is it that MLB still has bullpen phones!?!

    And you know what makes this even dumber—MLB developed the technology that allows people to stream TV over the internet!?! So MLB created a multi billion dollar technology company and yet they resist introducing technology into the actual games that could speed up games and get rid of home plate umpires?!? So MLB should have created AirPods years ago and the owners would have another billion dollar company and not some stupid sign stealing scandal!! The only dumber group of wealthy people are the American beer companies that spent billions on dumb advertisements when they should have been investing rideshare to get drunk people home from bars safely!! Why do bars have customer parking lots???

  14. This comment by jph12 should be considered by everyone. What the OP sleights is the notion of meritocracy. Anyone can cheat. It is harder, and quite rare, to be good enough at cheating to get a notable and lasting advantage.

    As a long-time Boston spots fan, I have only pity for benighted fans of other teams, who wail so abjectly about Boston’s cheating—largely because their own teams’ cheating is so inept that it never propels them to the top. Year after year, Boston not only beats competing teams on the field, but also out-cheats them in every way imaginable—as anyone can learn just by listening. Surely in our meritocratic society, a run so long, and so often successful, deserves respect and praise—maybe even commemoration in the Hall of Fame.

  15. One thing not mentioned is not only did they cheat, but the organization has an arrogance to it that was off putting. From the assistant manager making those idiotically mean-spirited comments (though I think the woman involved kinda milked it a little too), to them basically blowing off the Commissioner’s Office warning them to cut it out to Verlander’s obnoxious barring of a Detroit reporter.

    That’s the word: They’re an obnoxious organization.

    And it does start from the top.

    So why don’t we ever ask of such noble standards from our politicians? How come we let them get away with their indiscretions? They’re leaders ‘at the top’ yet we tolerate sophomoric behaviour?

    Politicians cheat, lie, whine, grand stand, cheat, lie again and somehow we conclude ‘it’s just politics’. I can see a bunch of people not getting riled up over the Astros dismissing it as ‘it’s just pro sports’. After all, if you’re not cheating, you’re not tying…to win.

    And if you ain’t first, you’re last as Ricky Bobby said.

    1. Astros won game 7 in LA…boom goes the dynamite!

  16. I say, let the hitters’ team monitor the signs. Then also allow the pitcher to doctor the ball before delivering it.

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