The Baltimore Orioles are watching, along with the rest of baseball, as the Houston Astros become engrossed in a cheating scandal. I touched on this yesterday, as former Astro Mike Fiers has told The Athletic that Houston (his now former team) used electronic devices to steal signs:
I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing. Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It’s [B.S.] on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys. The guys who know are more prepared. But most people don’t. That’s why I told my team. We had a lot of young guys with Detroit [in 2018] trying to make a name and establish themselves. I wanted to help them out and say, ‘Hey, this stuff really does go on. Just be prepared.’Quote courtesy of Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, The Athletic
However is there another angle to this that we aren’t seeing? Let me preface this by saying that using electronic devices to steal signs is against the rules. Explicitly. There’s no way around that. It’s indisputable.
However first off, Fiers was on the team when this was going on, and one way or the other he won a World Series as a result. What he said about young guys getting beaten around and getting sent down is a very fair point. However if he cared that much about them and/or about cleaning up the game, would he not have come out while it was going on and said it was wrong? As in, while it was directly benefiting him and his career?
Furthermore, I do firmly believe that there are some things which should stay in a clubhouse. That should be an unwritten code among players and coaches. So…did Fiers violate that unwritten code?
Maybe, maybe not. If you read Ken Rosenthal’s article and others on the topic, they all seem to indicate that Fiers was telling his new and current teammates about this – in the form of a warning. That in and of itself I don’t think violates any unwritten rule. I think that things as such get told all the time. When I played for these guys they used to do this – so be on the lookout.
When it turns into a problem is when it gets released into the public realm. Based on how the firsthand account of these stories are being worded, I suspect that someone to whom Fiers told this story leaked it. I don’t know for sure who that would be, however that’s how it comes across.
This doesn’t absolve Fiers of blame. As I said, he apparently didn’t have enough of a problem with this practice while it benefited him to say anything. But suddenly when they didn’t sign his paychecks anymore, he did have an issue with it.
This is a bit of a Catch-22 overall. Change never happens if whistleblowers aren’t out there. That’s probably a fact. However some things should stay in the clubhouse. Time will tell what punitive measures are taken against Houston.