Hope springs eternal every winter as baseball teams assemble in warmer climes to make ready for the long and glorious season some still call our national pastime. Baseball surely takes time, whether it be the interminable hours of a single game or the 162-game season itself. Still, I love baseball. I love the stats and the strategy. I love that failure is status quo (the best hitters still only manage success 3 times out of 10). I love the bursts of delirium amid all the tedium. And I love the peanuts and Cracker Jack—still sold in ballparks mostly because you sing about it every seventh inning stretch.
This spring, baseball reels from a self-inflicted integrity crisis. The crux centers on the Houston Astros being found guilty of sign-stealing, a sin as old as baseball itself. In case you somehow missed the news, the 2017 World Champions and last year’s American League leader employed a deviously high-low technology scheme to cheat their way to their World Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. A center field camera aimed at the opposing catcher caught signs sent to the pitcher, enabling Houston hitters to know what pitch was coming. The stolen signs were relayed to the Astros’ dugout using a “dark arts” technology called Codebreaker. Players would tip off their teammate at the plate batter by banging a trashcan if the pitcher was throwing a breaking ball or a changeup. No bang meant a fastball.
A whistleblower led to an investigation and verdict, though latest reports say everybody already knew (and thus the Nationals beat the Astros in the 2019 World Series). Managerial heads rolled, though no players were fined. Dodgers fans clamor for Major League Baseball to revoke Houston’s championship ...1
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Baseball, Trashcans, Signs, and Numbers
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