That’s all you really have to say now and everyone knows what you mean. At the same time, everyone seems to be using the situation with the Astros to fold in everything they think is wrong with baseball, whether it fits in this box or not.
If you read across baseball media, you will find numerous thoughts about how this is part of the larger problem in baseball, from owners who only care about ‘lining their pockets’ to field and front office staff who are complicit in all kinds of unethical behavior to players running the game to the point of being completely untouchable even in the face of their own behavior which compromises the integrity of the game.
Some parts of some of those arguments are valid, but even this stain on the game can’t be all things to all people. To make it so compromises the players, managers, front offices and players who do and have always played by the rules (even if sometimes they are the unwritten ones).
What I have found most interesting are the pundits who make this about the owner and who feel Jim Crane got off easy. It is true that baseball owners (as well as those in other major sports) are managing partners in what are generally large conglomerates. The baseball team is a piece of a much larger enterprise. As such, owners hire ‘baseball people’ to run the day-to-day operations of the baseball piece of the business. This is how we hear about owners not caring about winning baseball games and simply running their businesses (including that baseball piece) to maximize their profits.
Now, though, we seem to want to have it both ways. Jim Crane is somehow ultimately responsible for getting in the weeds of the baseball operation to try to cheat to win more games. No mention of how, when he gets caught (and they always do, eventually) that is going to improve the bottom line of the business.
Yes, he is at the top of the chain of command. His enterprise will pay the largest fine allowable and lose significant draft picks. That should seem reasonable to reasonable people.
As for the players, we keep hearing about how the owners have consistently hoodwinked the MLBPA in the last several CBAs. And yet…no one on that supposed ‘super team’ of lawyers who negotiated for the owners ever thought to change the wording of the PED punishments to a more inclusive ‘integrity of the game’ type reading? We could discuss/debate that forever, but still, it seems no players are going to see any punishment for their roles in this. Perhaps our best (sarcasm intended, in case you might miss its subtlety) thing as a society is continually finding more and better ways to keep people from having to face the consequences for their actions—and feeling good about that!
Anyway, I’m supposed to have thoughts. It’s what I do here and what you expect from me. So here goes. Baseball simply does not need any technology anywhere in the dugout or clubhouse during the course of a game. All monitors should be turned off. No smartphones or other communication devices allowed. Only the bullpen phone can be used. MLB can have compliance people in the clubhouse and dugout for each game assuring that all teams are adhering to this rule.
This would accomplish so much on so many levels. Obviously, this would eliminate the Astros-type cheating and that of other teams as well. The one thing we know about stuff like this is that it’s like an iceberg. You only see a percentage of it, but there is much more below the surface. We can be certain other teams have done similar things and, indeed, the rumblings are now emerging.
Teams can and should use technology as much as they want from the end of today’s game until the beginning of tomorrow’s. They can learn every nuance of their opponents and each of their players. Once a new game starts, however, players can use only the information they can keep in their heads. They can find any advantage they want within that game so long as there is no outside technology employed. Managers (and players) can continue to use notebooks and such where they have compiled their research, but in-game tech is taboo.
Here’s the great part. This tech ban would be useful to combat these sign-stealing scandals, but that’s not even nearly the best benefit. That would be ridding the game of the worst parts of the monstrosity that has become instant replay. I was never a big fan of replay to begin with, but when it was instituted it was designed to remedy the egregious errors that umpires might make. Those have always been clear to most anyone. They don’t require any calls to the team video wizards before deciding to make a challenge. MLB is making changes to the way that the actual game is played in order to try to shave a few seconds off the total time it takes to complete each game and, meanwhile, we are waiting on ten or so plays per game while one bench coach makes a call to the video guys and decides if there should be a challenge. When there is, the umpires spend several minutes deciding whether if, indeed, a player’s spike came off the bag by half a centimeter while a defender’s glove was in contact with him. All the while this is happening, you can hear me screaming at my TV, “Rob Manfred is a moron!” I’m much more subdued when I attend games in person, thankfully. If it’s not an obvious bad call, it’s not worth the time wasted (to sometimes not get it right anyway).
So let’s go completely no-tech during games. We can kill two of the ugliest birds on the planet with this one no-tech stone. There has never been a bigger win-win in history.