BETTER THAN NOTHING

By:  Kurt Snyder

I’m not there. I will never be there.

I really can’t find it in myself to say what so many fans are saying. So many are saying that they are done; that they are far beyond caring about whether or not baseball will return this season.

But I feel like so many are just putting their guards up. The disappointment of it all. The waiting. The negotiations. Back and forth and back and forth. Many fans just want it all to stop.

And now the players have thrown up their arms and said, we are done, just tell us when to show up. They know how this is going to go.

Rob Manfred’s message to the fans was clear. He is 100% sure there will be a season. He already knows what he is going to do. What the players want no longer interests him or the owners.

Talk about a completely fractured relationship between the Commish and the players. It really is unbelievable. Do you want to know what else the Commissioner should be 100% sure about? A baseball strike is no longer just a possibility, it is only a matter of when.

So as we sit here, the players have decided they are going to do what Manfred wants. What the owners want. And we are going to be left with the bare minimum, which is a shame.

All we’re awaiting now is the official announcement that, yes, baseball is returning for 50 lousy games.

But don’t be fooled.   You are going to be watching. You might complain until your hair is on fire but you are going to watch.

You have to watch! You love baseball! You can’t look away! A 50-game season is a sprint to the playoffs. It will be a season like we have never experienced, in a year like we have never experienced.

Actually, it wouldn’t fit the narrative if baseball went ahead without a hitch. Full season. Fans in the stands. The crowning of a World Series champion in October. Sure we all want it, but we were never going to get it. Not in 2020, when absolutely everything got turned upside down.

You can slap asterisks all over this season and you should, but this season would be completely about entertainment. Sure, baseball has been more than entertainment for so many of us, for most of our lives. I understand the desire to condemn what the Commissioner is hell-bent to execute.

For me, baseball has been such a huge part of my life that I have never been able to label it as just entertainment. But that’s what this will be and if you can get your head  around that, it can still be fun.

But it’s that settling which will be so difficult for many. Until it starts, of course.

First, players will get some satisfaction from a 50-game sprint to the playoffs. It’s competition and they crave it, playing the game they love.

And for baseball fans, there will be similarities. They will get that fix. Just like the players, they have been craving the competition and the desire to watch the game they love on a live stage.

It would be a live baseball fix for 3 months ending in a World Series Championship that maybe should be called something else to differentiate. Because this is 2020. It’s a year like no other where nothing is normal.  Not even baseball.

A 50-game schedule and then a playoff would be bizarre as hell. People, regardless of what they say now, would surely check this out.

Fans are saying they just want baseball to call it quits. To start fresh next year. Is that really what they want? Do they really want a summer completely without baseball? 

Completely?  Somehow I just don’t believe it.

They are still going to get their fresh start next year. So what is the harm in this 3-month tournament that we call 2020 Baseball?

Let’s give it a go. It’s no skin off our teeth. It really would be better than nothing.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.









WHAT DON’T THEY GET?

By:  Kurt Snyder

They are considering it. They haven’t said it in so many words, but they are considering it.

Baseball owners and players alike have made it known to all of us, that if they don’t get what they want, well, then baseball will not be a part of 2020 in America.

Not a full season. Not half a season. No season.

And if that’s how this whole negotiation period ends, what a sad day it will be. And it will be sad because it could be avoided with the right frame of mind.

That’s what is lacking in all of this. The right frame of mind.

What is it that owners and players don’t get? What is it they don’t see? Don’t they know that their game is in trouble? Don’t they wonder why all these changes in the game are being proposed and enacted?

It’s fear for the game. Fear for its future. A baseball future that is not guaranteed. But they act like it is.

They act like baseball is just as popular as it has ever been.  But it’s not true.

They act like the fan base is growing and that the amount of new fans increases every year. But it’s not true.

Owners and players are failing to understand that little by little, baseball is heading down the list of things to watch and heading down the list of preferred options for spring, summer and fall entertainment.

And this is a discussion we could have had before 2020. But it is 2020 and it is by far the worst possible year to let money get in the way of playing their game.

In a year absolutely ravaged by unemployment. In a year of vacant streets and vacant parking lots behind restaurants and bars and coffee houses that have been closed for weeks and months, baseball owners and players worry about their bottom lines.

Well, welcome to the club!

Keeping fans or gaining fans is at risk.  And it just may hinge on the decision to play baseball in 2020 or not.

This is far worse than any year where baseball players were on strike. Games were cancelled, seasons were shortened. All because players were on strike until a better deal came their way.

For those of us who love baseball,  the player strikes hurt a lot. Some fans said the heck with baseball. Some eventually forgave the players and watched and attended games again like they always did.

During a players’ strike, fans find other things to do.  Even baseball today struggles with competition for the business of the common sports fan.

But this year? A baseball strike doesn’t compare even slightly to what is being considered during a tumultuous 2020. In a year when businesses are cracking and money is being drained out of our homes, baseball owners and players have the audacity to ignore it.

What will baseball games look like in 2021 and beyond if the owners and players cannot find common ground on an agreement to hold some sort of season?

Do they understand that not unlike a strike, many fans will leave and never come back? Just imagine how the game of baseball will look if hockey, basketball and football all play this season?

Do the owners and players understand? Will the future of the game have a place in their final decisions? People who were looking forward to a return or were planning to take a look at this game in 2020 but instead were turned away because too much money was going to be lost by the players and owners, will be incensed.

Yes, there is always the minority of people who say, let’s get past all of this and make a fresh start in 2021. I do believe that opinion is in the minority.

It has been worse for fans this year, as they continue to wait heading into the third straight month without baseball. And the reason it has been worse is because nothing else in the sports world has been there to fill the void.

Fans who have entrenched themselves in the game all their lives will wait. Baseball knows they will always have those people. But they are no longer enough. The fans the game needs are the ones who want to be involved in the next best thing. They want to be at the place to be.

If baseball wants that piece of the pie, if they want a future, owners and players better put their calculators away. Because it’s not the money they should be most concerned about. It’s the further existence of the game itself.

What don’t they get?

Choosing not to play baseball at all this season will be the biggest mistake they ever made. It will cost them. It will cost them dearly.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.






IT COULD HAPPEN

(with apologies to Judy Tenuta)

By:  Holly Horning

BioDome Baseball. The theory being kicked around that baseball would resume by concentrating play in Arizona and Florida (and now, potentially Texas) in domed stadiums to help mitigate the intense heat of the summer.

Someone call Pauly Shore. Maybe he could make a guest appearance.

Players who would be sequestered and away from the their families (more than a couple with pregnant wives) for months. Managers, coaches and all support staff (clubhouse guys, drivers, Front Offices, scouts, etc.) joining them in daily routines of driving to the stadium and then to the hotel with lockdown. Not even a lousy coffee run.

Masks to be worn on the buses and in the clubhouse. But not in the dugout. And that’s because MLB would implement the 6-foot distance policy that would take a number of players out of the dugout and put them into the stands.

Time to buy stock in walkie-talkies.

The Wall Street Journal, in one cartoon picture, summarized the silliness of it all. The catcher behind the plate. The umpire calling balls and strikes from his position back by the netting. Three distanced players sitting in the stands behind home plate. And the batter? Six feet away from the plate, attempting to swing at the incoming pitch.

Silly. Surreal. Even stupid.

But it really could happen.

In fact, sources within MLB say it is going to happen.

Why?

Because baseball, just by itself, is an $11 billion business.

No one is going to walk away from that money until they have exhausted all possibilities.

And in 9 days, the first of many hard decisions will have to be made by 12 teams.

It is written into MLB law that the Commissioner has the ability to allow franchises to lay off or cut the pay of managers, coaches, trainers, scouts and even some GMs and their Front Offices due to a “national emergency.” And Rob Manfred is doing this because “the absence of games will kill revenue streams and teams will not have sufficient funds to meet their financial obligations.”

It is up to each club to determine what to do.

As of this blog’s publishing, 18 out of 30 teams have promised to continue to pay their employees through May 31st. One team said that they will pay beyond May. The Tigers. (Bravo, Mr. Ilitch!)

Sadly, the two richest teams in baseball, the Yankees and the Dodgers, have not yet joined the promise in taking care of their employees. And neither have the World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals. Oh, how ownership forgets about that trophy so quickly…..

The lack of revenue stream has already impacted team owners. Several teams are asking their minority owners to step up and infuse more cash into their franchise. One even had the audacity to file suit against several minority owners to force them to cough up more cash.

Not having baseball creates a domino effect upon every single industry connected to the game. Of course, you’ve got the seasonal stadium workers as well as the food and beverage companies. Then the sports gear manufacturers are now shutting down with no orders or demand for their products.

You’ve also got the huge sports betting industry and casinos that are also closed. The list goes on…..

Then you’ve got all the media-related industries that are impacted. No advertising, of course, which fuels the existence of both tv and radio, but most importantly, the lifeline for newspapers and magazines. Which is why we are now seeing the beat reporters for the Tigers being “furloughed.”

MLB TV has fired, furloughed, laid off or put all their tv people on some form of “hiatus.” Meaning that they aren’t being paid. MLB Radio has started to do some of the same, replacing live voices and regular programming with reruns of old shows and interviews. There’s only so many times you can listen to the Town Hall meeting with Chipper Jones.

MLB is currently getting zippo revenue with the pandemic conveniently shutting down the large cash influx of those tv game subscriptions they bill in March. It’s still on my to do list to call and get my refund for the charge back in February for the games that never took place.

ESPN has fired over 1,000 employees including such notable names as Jayson Stark.

And those dominos keep tipping over from the biggest corporations down to the college ranks. Scouts who don’t have jobs and players who can’t play and aren’t receiving their sports scholarships as a result. Future careers in jeopardy or to go down the rabbit hole. Some players will simply drop out of the game because they will have no-to-little income. At best, some players will be a year older and competing with a double batch of prospects for limited openings with teams’ farm systems.

On the major league level, you’ve gotta believe that players will be pushing to “play ball!” because it means that their regular salaries will kick back in albeit at a pro-rated scale. (At print, there is now an impasse between MLBPA and MLB about how each interprets what salaries will be if the game resumes without fans.)

Do you think that Miguel Cabrera, who was supposed to earn $30 million this year is going to be happy with the allotted $143,000 per month he’s now getting? There will be hundreds of players, each losing millions this year, if they don’t play.

Then there are the soon-to-be free agents. What will a year not playing baseball do to their negotiations with other teams? The end of 2020 was supposed to yield a bumper crop of highly-prized free agents. They’ll be a year older with a 1-year layoff. Not exactly a great bargaining position, especially when the interested teams no longer have the money they had pre-pandemic.

And finally, there’s the Players’ Association. The longer this layoff goes, the less bargaining power they will have as the current CBA expires later this year. Just a couple months ago, there were rumors of them using the threat of a strike as leverage. But if there is no or little baseball this year, that argument goes away. They would be committing suicide if they threatened a strike that could put baseball into a 2-year hiatus.

And fans? Of course, we want to see the games. Even if it’s just on tv. And if MLB is smart, they will see that baseball is literally the only game in town. People who never watched a game will tune it simply because they are desperate for sports. And many of them may just stick. It would help in turning around those 12 straight years of declining viewership.

So maybe this Biodome Baseball isn’t so bad afterall. Especially if you are a fan of Detroit or either of the 2 NY teams. It’s been reported that MLB sources are leery of bringing baseball back to these 2 cities because they carry the highest risk of fans catching Covid-19. There are rumors that alternate sites, further south, would have to be substituted for Comerica, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.

And in these crazy times, it just could happen.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

With MLB on hold, we are mixing it up a little bit.  Three new interactive blogs that allow you, dear readers, to have more input.  Which means, we need your ideas and questions for several of them.

1. Send us your questions that you’d like to see addressed about baseball and we’ll pick at least 2 each week to answer.

2. What questions do you have specifically for Kurt and Holly?  They can be on anything (nothing political or religious though) so you can get a more complete picture about baseball’s infamous (mostly) odd couple.

GET TO THE POINT – PLAYERS EDITION

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

To close out the week, we have chosen to share some more.  And this edition is all about favorites.  Very simply, who are our favorite and not-so-favorite players, Tigers or not?

Holly and Kurt have listed a maximum of 5 players per category.   We look forward to reading your input on the players they have chosen to include.

 


FAVORITE CURRENT TIGERS

HOLLY

1. Matthew Boyd
2. JaCoby Jones
3. Cameron Maybin

KURT

1. Matthew Boyd
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Cameron Maybin

LEAST-FAVORITE CURRENT TIGERS

HOLLY

1. Jordan Zimmermann

KURT

1. Christin Stewart
2. Jordan Zimmermann

FAVORITE TIGERS SINCE 2006

HOLLY

1. Victor Martinez
2. Magglio Ordonez
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Justin Verlander
5. Don Kelly (just kidding)

KURT

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Torii Hunter
3. Jose Iglesias
4. JD Martinez
5. Justin Verlander

LEAST-FAVORITE TIGERS SINCE 2006

HOLLY

1. Prince Fielder
2. Avisail Garcia
3. Joe Nathan
4. Delmon Young

KURT

1. Phil Coke
2. Brandon Inge
3. Ryan Raburn

FAVORITE TIGERS SINCE 1984

HOLLY

1. Victor Martinez
2. Magglio Ordonez
3. Lance Parrish
4. Alan Trammell
5. Justin Verlander

KURT

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Kirk Gibson
3. Jose Iglesias
4. Justin Verlander
5. Lou Whitaker

FAVORITE HISTORICAL TIGERS BEFORE ‘68

HOLLY

1. Ty Cobb
2. Sam Crawford
3. Charlie Gehringer
4. Hank Greenberg
5. Al Kaline

KURT

1. Charlie Gehringer
2. Hank Greenberg
3. Al Kaline

ALL-TIME FAVORITE TIGERS (All eras)

HOLLY

1. Ty Cobb
2. Hank Greenberg
3. John Hiller
4. Al Kaline
5. Mickey Lolich

KURT

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Mark Fidrych
3. Kirk Gibson
4. Justin Verlander
5. Lou Whitaker

FAVORITE ALL-TIME TIGER

HOLLY

1. Al Kaline

KURT

1. Kirk Gibson

FAVORITE NON-TIGERS (All eras)

HOLLY

1. Johnny Bench
2. Jim Palmer
3. Cal Ripken, Jr.
4. Nolan Ryan
5. Ted Williams

KURT

1. George Brett
2. Rod Carew
3. Derek Jeter
4. Mariano Rivera
5. Nolan Ryan

With MLB on hold, we are mixing it up a little bit.  Three new interactive blogs that allow you, dear readers, to have more input.  Which means, we need your ideas and questions for several of them.

1. Send us your questions that you’d like to see addressed about baseball and we’ll pick at least 2 each week to answer.

2. What questions do you have specifically for Kurt and Holly?  They can be on anything (nothing political or religious though) so you can get a more complete picture about baseball’s infamous (mostly) odd couple.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

 

YOU ASKED…

By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

Welcome to another edition of You Asked ….

While we wait for our beloved game to return, we have asked for questions from our readers. The purpose is to choose one question for both of us to answer. Today we have chosen 2.

Given the similarities of the questions, both will be addressed with one answer each from Kurt and Holly.

Thanks for participating everyone!

This week, John Bunn and Mcwatt have asked the following questions about how our blog got its start.


John Bunn

I wasn’t here from the beginning and I’m wondering what was the “Genesis of TT? Was there a “let there be light” moment? C’mon dish!

Mcwatt

If you’ve never met in person, how did you get together to plan and create this fantastic blog?


KURT

I had been writing my own personal blog on the Tigers for a couple years, but it was not a daily thing. In-between, I would get my fix commenting on articles published in the DetNews and Freep.

You know how it was; people treating each other like trash, ripping on each other, arguing, etc. It was a mess. But there was this one person who stood out with her logical viewpoints and refreshing knowledge of the game.

My thought was that I could learn from her and perhaps get her impression on my blog. After emailing Holly, she agreed to read through my work and within 24 hours, she basically said “Ok, I read all of them!” which was over 100 different entrees! Her question: Have you ever considered doing anything with this?

Within days we began formulating a plan to start a blog partnership. Via email, texting and phone calls, we then spent months building a site and formulating our strategy.

To me, the advent of our partnership and the dynamics that we bring to the blog is just as interesting as the words we publish. We have a unique 2-city arrangement, never having met, but with a trust in each other’s drive and passion for our blog and the willingness to stick to it.

Personally, the creation of Totally Tigers has served as a testament to my father’s 46-year career with the Tigers and I owe a lot to Holly in helping to build a forum that will keep his legacy alive.


HOLLY

In a galaxy far, far away, Kurt and I “met” as participants in some newspaper comment sections about the Tigers. I seem to recall that he always had a voice of reason and expressed his views very well as we responded to each other’s comments frequently.

After a couple months of posting my comments, a number of other readers (along with some sportswriters for the Freep and DetNews) contacted me, suggesting that I write a blog about the Tigers. It was certainly appealing as my mother was a journalist and taught me about the joys of writing.

So the question was about logistics and the workload required, until Kurt emailed me. He told me about a promise he had made to his dad and about his journalism major, asking me to read some blogs he had written. They resonated with me and we both came to the same conclusion that we would make a good pairing – similar in so many ways but also very different.

The rest is history but I will say that creating, understanding and troubleshooting the technological requirements of a blogging platform had to be our greatest hurdle. The writing is easy.

Personally, the reason to start Totally Tigers was to fill a need – a huge void, really – which is the driving force for me as an entrepreneur. I was amazed at how protective the major Detroit papers were of the Tigers and how there was little to no criticism of anything they did, despite some glaring mistakes and the stark contrast between the local papers and the opinions from the national media. I found it very interesting that this one-sided treatment was allowed to thrive year after year when every major East Coast newspaper is quick to point out the mistakes of their own baseball teams.

But offering honest and fair assessments was only part of the reason for starting this blog. Kurt and I found that we could offer something truly unique. His stories about literally growing up in Tiger Stadium and my background in sports economics, the real driving force behind teams’ decisions. No one else offers what we do.

With MLB on hold, we are mixing it up a little bit.  Three new interactive blogs that allow you, dear readers, to have more input.  Which means, we need your ideas and questions for several of them.

1. Send us your questions that you’d like to see addressed about baseball and we’ll pick at least 2 each week to answer.

2. What questions do you have specifically for Kurt and Holly?  They can be on anything (nothing political or religious though) so you can get a more complete picture about baseball’s infamous (mostly) odd couple.


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please be aware that there are specific rules for posting and that comments may be edited in order to meet our specific requirements.  Responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  Please become familiar with all of the rules at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Another year of covering and analyzing the Tigers rebuild (or “rebuild” if you prefer) has come and gone. It hasn’t been easy covering them this year but it’s been a worthwhile adventure for us and challenged us to dig deeper.

We truly are thankful for the readership we have developed and we are appreciative of those who have made us a part of their everyday routines. We will continue to strive for different ways to capture your attention, ask more questions, help you realize angles to stories you hadn’t considered and inspire more long-term discussion.

We also welcome your ideas for topics and new blog formats so please email them to us. We won’t publish your thoughts on them, but when we do, we will give you a big shout-out.

Thanks for hanging with us and please continue to spread the word. We continue to grow and are exploring opportunities that promise to take us all to the next level. We may not be “building it back up” but we are certainly “building it!”

Thank you – and have a great New Year, everyone!

Holly and Kurt

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Happy Holidays (or in Holly’s case, Happy Holly Daze) to all of our dear readers!

Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, another holiday or simply “the holiday season” you celebrate during the month of December, we send our very best wishes to all of you during this special time of the year.

Here’s hoping that your holidays are merry and bright and (with apologies to Henry Livingston, Jr.) that visions of a successful rebuild dance in your heads whilst you are “nestled all snug in (sic) your beds.”

HAPPY HANUKKAH!

For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, may these next 7 days bring you much joy and happy reflection.

We here at Totally Tigers are blessed to have you as readers. We thank you for taking the time to peruse our blogs and share your thoughtful comments with us and other fans.

Hanukkah Sameach!

 

BUST A MOVE

By:  Holly Horning

Back in August 2015, Al Avila became General Manager and was rewarded with a 5-year contract. Tiger ownership said that the 5 years was necessary as that was the amount of time needed in order for Avila to get the Tigers back into playing competitive baseball.

And yet, with more than a year to go and no evidence of a rebuild even taking place, Chris Ilitch extended Al’s contract for a super secret number of years. A first in MLB while also being a contradictory statement of support. Not revealing a single shred of the contract details shows that the owner is either embarrassed to own his action or that it was done to facilitate an imminent sale of the team.  Only one of these options makes sense.

Nonetheless, Avila goes into his 5th off-season where the vision and planning of how to construct the team is done. It is the most important part of any GM’s job.

Al has been in the crosshairs of fans throughout this time period as they point to this trade or that trade as having failed. But is it right to cherry pick a handful of trades?

Shouldn’t we be looking at his entire resume of trades and signings? Wouldn’t that be a more accurate assessment?

I hope you’re saying “yes” because I did all the legwork for you. I have that complete list of Al’s work since he took over.

The majority of his significant moves took place between 2015 – 2017. After that, most of the Tigers’ transactions involved releasing players and signing those plucked off the waiver wire. An astounding number of older journeymen were signed to minor league contracts with the hope that the Tigers might get lucky and fill a hole in the Detroit roster. That project did not turn out well at all.

Excluding the minor league contracts and waiver wire grabs, I’ve listed all the moves Al has made since he took over from Dave Dombrowski. The vast majority of the prospects gained are currently sitting in A and AA ball, with just a handful of players having a short taste of MLB so far.

Take a look and judge for yourself. We already know the outcomes of some of these moves. But what about the others? What are the chances that some of them will actually evolve into smart moves?


PLAYERS ACQUIRED

Mike Fiers

Josh Harrison (IL most of year)

Mikie Mahtook

Jordy Mercer (IL most of year)

Matt Moore (IL most of year)

Mike Pelfrey (released)

Tyson Ross (IL most of year)

Francisco Rodriguez (released)

Justin Upton

Jordan Zimmermann


PLAYERS TRADED

NICK CASTELLANOS (and cash) for Paul Richan and Alex Lange

MIKE FIERS for Nolan Blackwood and Logan Shore

SHANE GREENE for Joey Wentz and Travis Demeritte

IAN KINSLER for Wilkel Hernandez (now unprotected) and Troy Montgomery

CAMERON MAYBIN for Victor Alcantara (released)

J.D. MARTINEZ for Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King

JUSTIN UPTON for RHP Grayson Long (retired after 4 games) and Elvin Rodriguez (now unprotected)

JUSTIN VERLANDER and player and $16 million for Franklin Perez (pitched 9 games in 2 years), Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers

JUSTIN WILSON and ALEX AVILA for Isaac Paredes, Jeimer Candelario and a PTBNL


PLAYERS RELEASED (with no compensation received)

Victor Alcantara

Josh Harrison

Jose Iglesias

James McCann

Mike Pelfrey

Francisco Rodriguez

Bruce Rondon

Anibal Sanchez

Alex Wilson


Totally Tigers loves your comments!  But please remember that responses are only published if they address today’s topic, are respectful and do not exceed the maximum 3-4 sentence response length.  All rules are at:  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/commentsrules/.

FROM 1919 TO 2019

By:  Holly Horning

This is not a blog about the Astros.

It is about the great risk – the increasing risk – that technology poses to the game.

This is a blog about cheating and preserving the integrity of the game, especially as legalized gambling and MLB’s recent deal with MGM could set the table for a Black Sox 1919 scandal redux.

It is about what needs to be done in order to prevent future problems. It is about what should be done.  It is about preventing more of the same.

Everyone is aware of the current cheating scandal focused on the Houston Astros. The details about how they used video monitors and garbage cans to steal the opposing battery signs from their opponents and relay the pitch type to their batters at the plate.

And according to MLB rules, using technology to steal signs is expressly prohibited and recently re-affirmed with updated rules. Ironically, back in 2017, the same year once again in question, the Red Sox were punished for using Apple watches to steal signs from the Yankees. An opponent, btw, who was also fined for using dugout phones to do the same thing.

Both teams were assessed undisclosed fines for this sporadic foray into dabbling at cheating.   Not at all comparable to what we are learning about the Astros level of effort.

After the Boston and NY episodes, MLB put all 30 teams on warning with the threat that further similar actions would result in much more serious punishment such as the loss of draft picks.

It’s apparent that the Astros weren’t listening.

Which brings us to what level of punishment would be appropriate for Houston. And in order to assess, let’s review the latest information in order to give an accurate picture of the depth of their willingness to consistently break the rules.


There are now multiple pieces of evidence showing that the Astros planned a full-blown strategy for cheating including using MLB’s live feed to steal signs. They include:

1. Testimony from at least 4 former players and several scouts.

2. Multiple emails from top Front Office executives asking scouts and others for help in ascertaining the best system for setting up technology to be used in stealing signs.

3. Video (with sound) of a garbage can being hit 1-2 times right after the signs had been given and just before the pitch was thrown.

4. Video of the bullpen coach draping his arms (or not) over walls to signify fastball or off-speed pitches.

5. A comparison of home and away Astros’ hitters stats showing a huge (and startlingly so) difference in performance greatly favoring the home stats. Players like Jose Altuve hitting 3 HRs in a single game during the playoffs is just one more example.

6. Pictures and video of an additional monitor and laptop set up near the steps to the dugout. Gatorade towels hung strangely overhead to shield them from being seen by official security monitors.

7. Pictures of players at the steps just before they walk into the dugout showing them looking at the tv screens.  Some of them getting ready to bat.

8. A playoff record at home in which they went 8-1 against the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox. Away, where they were unable to steal signs, they went 3-6.


What we learn from all of this is that there was a concerted and detailed effort to create an effective system of cheating.  An egregious – and arrogant – breaking of the rules. An intent so clearly far beyond what other teams have done.

Evidence seems to support that multiple people were on board, at least one going so far as to authorize the purchase and installation of tv equipment. Equipment that was not hidden in a corner but for everyone who walked those corridors to clearly see.

It means that someone or some people within the Front Office came up with the idea and got the ball rolling. GM Jeff Luhnow’s assistant was one of those who put the illegal intent into emails that were recovered.

It also means that every player, especially the hitters, knew what was going on. Even the pitchers knew. Cue Mike Fiers.

It means that the coaches had to know. And the manager, too. They heard the banging. They saw the monitors. They walked past the laptop.

It also means that few Astros, if any, could plead innocent to not knowing what was going on.

But here is where it gets tricky as MLB ponders their punishment.

A number of players have left Houston since 2017. Carlos Beltran, a player then, is now the manager of the NY Mets. Alex Cora, an Astros coach, went on to manage the Red Sox . Hitting coach, Dave Hudgens, is with the Jays now.

The stain has essentially spread and is no longer containable.

Much discussion has taken place concerning the brazen plan to steal signs. However, little has been said about how MLB should punish those responsible.

That’s where I’m turning it over to you, dear readers, to voice your opinion about what should be done. Cast your vote below – and as always, share your thoughts in the comments section.


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