Since I’m in the penalty box for the crime of living in the state of California, I’m going to say a few things that I’d normally put into a separate article here. I’ll be briefer than I normally would be. There are also some links that I’d normally do full stories on, but you’re only going to get my thoughts here.
A lot of this sign-stealing scandal could have been prevented had MLB not insisted upon an NFL-style “challenge system” to replay rather than an umpire-centered one that would be similar to what NCAA football does. I argued in favor of an umpire-centered system before replay was enacted, but was ignored. (I’m used to that.) I can only assume MLB went with the system they did because it was cheaper—they wouldn’t have to have one umpire in the booth for every game looking for blown calls. There was probably a bit of “NFL-envy” going on as well.
The Mets taking $55 million of taxpayer money for a clubhouse that will be used six weeks a year by a few dozen millionaires is emblematic of everything that is wrong with America at the moment. That they tried to justify not letting the minor leaguers use it by saying that those players need something to work towards is some of the most patronizing crap to come out of any MLB team in decades. Or maybe it isn’t, unfortunately.
The Astros tried to put the sign-stealing scandal behind them yesterday, but their “apology” certainly made it seem like they don’t feel that they have anything to apologize for. Rather than move forward, owner Jim Crane just threw gasoline on the fire.
Again, this is the type of person that has the money to purchase an MLB team these days. (Here’s the mandatory #NotallMLBowners hashtag.)
A day like this can make me hope my days of writing this column really are numbered. Because this is no fun. Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?
- Here’s the official MLB spin on the Astros disastrous attempt at an apology for the sign-stealing scheme.
- Jay Jaffe has a report on all the latest developments on Astros scandal and how it’s not going away anytime soon.
- Stephanie Apstein, who knows a little something about how crappy the Astros are at apologizing, called Thursday’s press conference yet another “nightmare” attempt at an apology.
- Dan Wetzel writes that the Astros humiliated themselves with their sorry excuse for an apology.
- Ken Rosenthal writes that the Astros “screwed up” their apology and now are going to face the consequences all season long. (The Athletic sub. req.)
- Samer Kalaf thinks that it’s not clear that the Astros even think they need to apologize.
- Bill Baer writes exactly that. The Astros messed up their apology because we live in a world where the powerful and the crooked never think they did anything wrong. And because they are constantly getting away with wrongdoing anyway.
- Gabe Lacques can’t even figure out whom the Astros were intending to apologize to.
- Hannah Keyser believes that more than an apology, MLB is owed transparency and the truth from the Astros.
- Emma Baccellieri spoke with the head of a public relations firm about how badly the Astros bungled this apology and what they should have done differently.
- Michael Baumann thinks the Astros showed no remorse and made a bad situation “comically” worse. Baumann believes the Astros would have done better by just saying “Yeah, we cheated and now we’ve got a World Series ring, chumps. You’re just jealous you didn’t think of it.”
- Eric Stephen writes that the Astros organization is rotten from top to bottom.
- Evan Drellich lists the many things that went wrong that led to the sign-stealing scandal. (The Athletic sub. req.) He starts with my point about going with a challenge replay system.
- One of the criticisms that many have leveled agains whistleblower Mike Fiers is that he should have reported the Astros’ cheating to his team or the league and not gone public to The Athletic. According to Athletics manager Bob Melvin and general manager David Forst, Fiers did report the scheme to the A’s first and MLB ignored the complaint.
- Craig Calcaterra says that commissioner Rob Manfred must answer for all the ways he screwed up this scandal. Just as Calcaterra’s daughter must answer for eliminating Wyoming, creating “Ohio 2” and having Chile go all the way up to Alaska.
- Mike Oz thinks the cheating scandal will have a negative impact on Carlos Beltran’s Hall of Fame hopes.
- After the Astros battered around then-Rays pitcher Chris Archer, Archer claims an Astros’ player called him and (falsely) told him that he had been tipping his pitches, (The Athletic sub. req.) not that they were stealing his signs.
- Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer says he wishes he was wrong about his claims that the Astros had been cheating. To be clear, Bauer publicly accused the Astros of cheating by the use of a foreign substance on the ball, but Bauer claims that he also suspected they were stealing signs but said nothing because his evidence was much weaker there.
- Angels pitcher Andrew Heaney ripped the Astros for their cheating. And Heaney was even hurt most of 2017 and didn’t face the Astros that year.
- Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter says the Astros 2017 World Series title now comes with an asterisk.
- OK, I think that’s all I have on the Astros non-apology apology and the cheating scandal for today. Now I have even yuckier news as Blue Jays catcher Reese McGuire has been arrested for public “exposure of sexual organs” in Florida.
- Craig Edwards is doing a series on the current war between MLB and Minor League Baseball. Part I is here and Part II is here. A lot of this is focused on how MLB claims about why they are doing this don’t really hold water and that it’s really about money and control, not improving player development.
- Tim Brown writes that after an offseason full of scandal, MLB needs the pure joy that a comeback season by Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani can bring. Plus other Angels news.
- All those rule changes we’ve been talking about all winter? They’re now all official.
- One that isn’t official is the rumored expansion of playoff teams. Tim Brown thinks that MLB should put its focus on improving the 162-game regular season and not the postseason.
- Trevor Bauer and Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius both ripped the proposal to expand the playoffs to 14 teams as “absurd.”
- Zack Kram writes that none of Boston’s rationalizations for trading outfielder Mookie Betts make any sense when you examine them.
- Michael Baumann believes that the Padres will regret not trading for Betts or making some other move to go “all-in” for 2020.
- Martin Prado retired.
- In case you care about these things, the MLB Network released their “Top 100 Players Right Now” list. Four Cubs make the list, headed by Javier Báez at number 23.
- And Fangraphs released their “Top 100” prospects. Normally I’d write this up as a separate story, but. . . . Anyway, I put “Top 100” in quotes because it’s actually a list of 120 prospects. Three Cubs prospects make the top 100 and left-handed pitcher Brailyn Marquez checks in at #114.
- Another thing I’d normally do a story on (although I might have combined these two pieces into one) is that Baseball America has released their rankings of all 30 MLB farm systems. The Cubs are #22, up from #29 before last season and right in line with what I wrote about the Cubs being much closer to 20 than they are to 30 this year. That’s still not great but if you want to look at some positive news, 22 gives them the second-best farm system in the NL Central, behind only the Cardinals at 13.
- David Schoenfield has one big stat for 2020 for each MLB team.
- There’s always a debate about which team was the greatest team of all-time. Chris Landers makes the case that the greatest team of all time might just be the 1931 Homestead Grays.
- MLB and the MLB Players Association have made a joint $1 million donation to the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City. Which is in Missouri, in case you were confused.
- And finally, bring on the robot umpires? Maybe just bring on the robot hitters!
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. It better be. Have a happy Valentine’s Day. Or not. No pressure.