Another week, another 7 days of talking endlessly about the sign stealing scandal. Now that players have reported to their respective camps we’re getting a numberless amount of reaction stories that run in one of two veins: Either the players are mad about the integrity of the game or they think the Astros haven’t apologized enough. Sometimes we get both!
We also get to occasionally hear from players that played against the Astros about how the scheme has ruined their careers or stolen something from them. We even got a Trevor Bauer article where they literally just posted a word-for-word half hour rant by him, half of which was him talking about how unfair all of it was for him personally and how mean the Astros players were to him. Oh, and let’s not forget the Yankees, who apparently will get a reaction article for every single player on their 2017 team. Even multiple ones from Aaron Boone, who was sitting in a broadcast booth that year.
Look, I understand that all of this is fair game and that the Astros brought it on themselves, but at a certain point all the piling on just looks like lazy journalism. Posting a quote on twitter where a player is super mad garners thousands of likes as if it’s hard hitting news when it’s really just feeding a celebration of anger over the Astros. It hasn’t been news that other players are mad for like 2 months now.
Not only that, but the outrage this week has been pretty selective. The Astros players had a number of sincere apologies and talked candidly about the sign stealing scandal from their lockers on Apology Day. But with all the garment rending going on you’d think that the press conference, more specifically Crane’s terrible statement and Q&A, was the only thing that happened.
I’ve seen a number of actual journalists complain that Bregman and Altuve didn’t take questions during the presser even though they each took questions in the locker room afterwards and denounced it as wrong. Sports Illustrated went and found a PR professional just so they could have a full breakdown of how bad the press conference was. People are even complaining that they wrote out the apology beforehand and spoke from paper as if that somehow makes it not an apology. There’s also anger that they didn’t try and somehow cheapen the 2017 title or specifically use the word “cheated.”
The point is that people don’t want candor from the Astros, they only want them to grovel for forgiveness while melting their World Series rings and declaring other teams the true champions, which is just unrealistic. The worst part is seeing members of the baseball media playing right along with it. While I’m sure that a lot of reporters feel that way personally, the cynic in me also feels that the loss of objectivity might have a little bit to do with the number of clicks that angry stories get as well.
Again, the Astros brought this on themselves, but it’s still frustrating to see this being treated as some sort of grand betrayal of American integrity that’s threatening the very fabric of our society. Let’s be clear, the line that the Astros crossed was figuring out a way to relay signs directly to the batter after deciphering them electronically. But other teams were using electronics to steal signs, just giving them to a runner on second or a line coach instead of directly.
People want to act like that one extra step is somehow tearing away at the foundations of the game but, if reports are to be believed, this wasn’t the first time a team took that particular step. The problem is that the Astros devised one of the most obvious methods to relay signs, which allowed people to actually see it happening in real time. The Astros deserved to be punished, but it would be nice if we could stop acting like they invented electronic sign stealing in 2017.
I don’t really expect that to change though. The scapegoating of the Astros is in full bloom right now. There will be no introspective on how widespread electronic sign stealing was because that won’t get the same number of page views as angry-time rants do. While such an introspective wouldn’t change what the Astros did, it would be nice to see more members of the media, who like to position themselves as experts of the game, stop pretending that this happened in a vacuum.
I won’t hold my breath.
Anyways, on to the Potluck. As usual, please feel free to post whatever stories or topics you’d like to discuss in the comments section. I’ll get it started with three weekend questions:
- Astros fans only: Was the apology enough for you?
- Over/under on the outrage dying by July?
- Who gets the fifth spot in the rotation now that Peacock is injured?