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2020 draft class

MLB Draft Today, 10:42 AM
Obviously, it's never too early to get excited about the upcoming draft. Pipeline has a top 100 up already. http://m.mlb.com/pro...020/?l...
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Josh Donaldson’s swing.... again

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:37 AM
Ok, I know, tired..... but dang that’s pretty! I can’t wait to see that with a TC on the cap. https://m.youtube.co...eature=youtu.be
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Baby Blues Are Back!

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:23 AM
I'm so happy!       Here is the press release:     TWINS RETURN TO HISTORY, UNVEIL BABY BLUE ALTERNATE UNIFORM...
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Adrift in a sea of advanced stats

Other Baseball Today, 11:32 AM
Hey all,    I see a lot of advanced stats flashed at Twins Daily.    I was a wondering which among them you all saw a...
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How the internal (back-end) pitching options stack up for...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:32 AM
There seems to be a general consensus that the Twins are in desperate need of at least one additional starting pitcher for their rotation...
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Have the Twins Been Getting Beaten by Cheaters?

On Monday, sanctions came down on the Houston Astros following the revelation of their illegal sign-stealing practices. Soon after, a former Minnesota Twin spoke out and suggested that this issue runs deeper than anyone wants to believe.

One wonders if we're just scratching the surface.
Image courtesy of Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
The penalties levied upon the Astros were fairly severe, especially after the ripple effects played out. Manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow received one-year bans from MLB before being promptly fired by owner Jim Crane. Houston also forfeited several high draft picks and received a fine. Alex Cora, who reportedly helped orchestrate the cheating – and, as you may recall, threw a fit last year by falsely accusing Eddie Rosario of breaking the rules on a bunt – is certainly destined for a lengthy ban of his own.

That's all well and good, but does little to mollify the concerns of a longtime baseball fan like myself.

Ever since this scandal first surfaced – through the exceptional reporting work of Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich – I've found myself asking: how deep does this go? It's hard to believe the Astros are an isolated case.

Hours after the bombshell, Logan Morrison weighed in on Instagram, adding some perturbing insights of his own. "So many teams are doing this," he wrote. "I know from first hand accounts that the Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, and Red Sox all have used film to steal signs."



How credible is this latest allegation? Who knows. But the decisive action by the commissioner against Houston leaves no doubt as to the verified gravity of these offenses for at least one team, and we're only starting to learn the truth. Baseball's player association is a brotherhood, and sometimes the loyalty can manifest in negative ways. It did when the steroid epidemic of the '90s ran rampant, unspoken.

Unspoken, that is, until the cracks begin to creep up. By 2003, David Wells was proclaiming that, "As of right now, I'd estimate 25 to 40 percent of all major leaguers are juiced. But that number's fast rising."

Are Mike Fiers and Morrison merely the first to shed light on a lurking corruption at the game's core? You might not be inclined to put these transgressions at the level of PEDs, but the benefit of knowing what pitch is coming? Especially when you're a good hitter, in a big spot? That can't be downplayed. Depending on the depth and extent of these activities, it's entirely possible that history was altered in significant ways by foul play.

As a fan of the Twins, who have not to my knowledge been referenced in connection with any of these activities? Well, I can't help but think about the 123 runs the Astros have scored in 19 games against Minnesota since 2017, when they won a now-tainted World Series.

I can't help but think about the unbelievable hypocrisy of Cora, and the dark cloud that now hovers over Boston's championship in 2018.

And given that New York was the first team mentioned by Morrison in his own remarks, I can't help but think about all those times over the years that Yankees hitters seemed to be sitting on the right pitch, at the right time, and dispatching the Twins with almost surreal consistency. Especially in the playoffs.

Bitterness? You could say so. And maybe my own favorite team will be implicated at some point. No possibilities can be ruled out at a time where offense and home runs have gone absolutely bananas and the once-scrappy Twins are leading the revolution. But for now, I choose to believe in the integrity of this franchise, and the people running it.

Under this belief, the notion that an already disadvantaged team may be having the deck further stacked against it, by rampant and seemingly unrepentant cheating?

It's gut-wrenching. Not just as a Twins fan, but as a baseball fan.

Rob Manfred faces a crisis. To ignore it would be to dismiss any plausibility of a level playing field, in a sport where that ideal has always been under assault.

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133 Comments

Yes. Yes they have. 

 

You can cheat, get caught, and then keep your title? What? Like the 1997 Final Four Gophers, they should have their post-season appearances and any titles eliminated and struck from the record.

 

The 2017 Championship Astros banners (and possibly the 2018 Red Sox banners) should be taken down from the stadium and the titles should be vacated.

Should the Twins have to void any games won in 2019 in which Pineda appeared?

    • glunn, Blake, Mike Sixel and 6 others like this
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nicksaviking
Jan 14 2020 10:24 AM

 

(2) 1sts and (2) 2nds, 5 mil, GM & Mgr 1 yr suspensions for a World Series.

 

 

2. $50 million penalty to the owner sends a signal to fix the cheat at all costs mentality.

3. Fine players caught in scandal. How about 50% of their salary?

 

 

$5M is the max a team can be penalized according to MLB's own bylaws.

 

And they can't take away player's salaries, that would be against the CBA, and likely completely illegal.

 

    • USAFChief, glunn, Mike Sixel and 2 others like this

It's the quintessential Minnesota thing to assume that the reason your teams lose is because something unfair happened during the game/season...and that your team is never guilty of anything. As a life-long Minnesotan I can attest that there's nothing more Minnesotan than that. It's the way we remain so proud of all those division titles and playoff "appearances".

 

Would I rather finish 2nd honestly than in 1st dishonestly. 100%. But, let's not lose track of the fact that the Twins primary challenge over the last decade-plus has been both lack of commitment and lack of execution. Not external factors.

    • glunn, Sssuperdave, Hosken Bombo Disco and 2 others like this

I suspect Logan Morrison may not exactly be reliable source here, but...

 

If the Astros sign stealing pre-dated 2017, then Jason Castro would have known about it when he came over here. (Maybe even Grossman, if it really dated back to 2014.) (Note that Cora and Beltran did not join the Astros until 2017, so this is one of the iffier parts of Morrison's claims.)

 

For the post-2017 stealing, Marwin Gonzalez would have known about it when he came over to the Twins last winter too.

 

And I wouldn't be so quick to assume that all the Twins are "clean" either. It may not have been as wide as the Astros did it, but if the practice was common enough around the league as Logan Morrison says, it's certainly possible that individual Twins sought it out too.

    • USAFChief, glunn, birdwatcher and 8 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jan 14 2020 10:31 AM

 

By the way, it still astounds me that knowing what pitch is coming is that much of an advantage for a hitter.

Timing...and probably to some extent enough scouting knowledge to know the direction of movement and adjust accordingly.

    • Blake, MN_ExPat and Battle ur tail off like this

Any mention of Marwin Gonzalez in the report? Marwin was among the Astros batters who knocked Darvish out of the second inning in both games 3 and 7 of the 2017 World Series, despite a largely ineffective postseason at the plate otherwise.

    • glunn and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jan 14 2020 10:35 AM

You can cheat, get caught, and then keep your title? What? Like the 1997 Final Four Gophers, they should have their post-season appearances and any titles eliminated and struck from the record.
 
The 2017 Championship Astros banners (and possibly the 2018 Red Sox banners) should be taken down from the stadium and the titles should be vacated.

Personally, I’ve always hated that sort of penalty. That’s really a dig at the fans, in my opinion, who don’t deserve it.
    • SwainZag likes this

Small sample size, but 2017:

 

Home vs HOU 0-3

Away vs HOU 1-2

 

I'm going to say that it sucks and it's good the Astros are being punished, but unless the Astros have cameras in opponents' ballparks, they might just have been, you know, good.

 

Houston's 2017 splits:

Home 48W 33L .593
Road 53W 28L .654

    • glunn, Blake and h2oface like this

 

Maybe the Twins are figuring out how to cheat more effectively than any other MN team. By having Rosario hitting 4th, swinging at everything, no one would assume the Twins are relaying signs to hitters. That is where Houston went wrong, you need to have at least one free swinger in the lineup to prevent suspicion.

Altuve is most definitely a free swinger though:)

    • glunn likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jan 14 2020 10:48 AM
While agreeing with all of the above, I also can’t help thinking that if pitchers weren’t taking so much time to deliver the pitch, this type of cheating would be minimal. I don’t know, let’s see what turns up.

Knowing what pitch is coming is huge, but I doubt batters would have much time to look away from the pitcher, decode the signal, and then bring their eyes back to the pitcher’s delivery slot before the pitch comes. And that’s the last step in the process. Illegal sign stealing like this... I think it would work only under the right conditions.
    • glunn and Monkeypaws like this
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Don Walcott
Jan 14 2020 10:52 AM

The penalties are harsh, and possibly a good deterrent. However, as long as we allow technology in the dugouts when the game starts, there will be people who will find ways to push the envelope, and occasionally cross the line. The rules against using technology to steal signs have been in place for 20 years, with periodic reinforcement of the rules since. And teams were still stealing signs with technology.

 

In a discussion on MLB last night, Verducci, Costas and Rosenthal all advocated no technology in the dugout at all once the game starts. I think this is a good idea, if we're serious about eliminating this type of cheating.

    • glunn, Mike Sixel, scottz and 3 others like this
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twinkiesfan11
Jan 14 2020 10:57 AM
50 game ban for every player who served more than 120 games on the major league roster of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Astros. It would turn them into a AAA team long enough to eliminate them from playoff contention and there would be no 1st or 2nd round picks to show for the lost season. This would have been fair in my opinion and can guarantee no team would risk this type of cheating again.
    • lukeduke1980 likes this
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Nick Nelson
Jan 14 2020 11:08 AM

 

Morrison's stuff kind of just sounds like office rumors, which tend to originate from wish-fulfillment, jealousy and excuses. 

To your point, it is striking to me that Morrison — who has pretty much always played for smaller-market underdog types — named all big-market heavy hitters in his accusations.

You can bet that he'll be contacted by MLB investigators in efforts to substantiate his claims though. Who knows what kind of evidence or references he might be able tp provide.

 

BTW, love the photo, Nick.

 

Maybe those 2017 rings should be "taken back".

LOL. I didn't even notice what his shirt said when I selected that but, yeah, takes on an all-new meaning doesn't it?

    • USAFChief, Blake, spycake and 1 other like this
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Old Twins Cap
Jan 14 2020 11:18 AM

Yankees don't need to cheat at Yankee stadium.

 

For years and years, they have had the home plate umpire -- what else do you need?

    • beckmt, Dortmunder, KFEY93 and 1 other like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Jan 14 2020 11:30 AM
Strip the Astros of their 2017 World Series title. Today. Do it now.
I guess I’m not sure how the twins were cheated out of anything. They won their division with 101 wins. Now if it came out that the Yankees cheated, then I’d be upset. In the overarching baseball world, the Astros shouldn’t be recognized as champions of anything. And if they find the same thing in Boston, same deal.
Not a good look for the MLB. Especially when it’s clear that there are numerous clubs getting away with it.

It’s just another reason why the sport is becoming unwatchable. The lack of parity already alienates fans of small-mid market teams enough. Now, when knowing that these large markets are cheating on top of the gross payroll inequity...it’s just another coffin nail for many would be fans. Just look at Twins v Yankees in the playoffs for the past 20 years. Let’s be honest, nobody really wants to watch that garbage.

Way to keep shooting yourself in the foot, Major League Baseball. What a ridiculous dog and pony show this sport has become. An total and absolute joke. It’s like they are deliberately trying to run the sport into the ground.

 

By the way, it still astounds me that knowing what pitch is coming is that much of an advantage for a hitter.

 

How?When facing a guy with a great off-speed pitch it gives such advantage, especially in a 0-2 or 1-2 count to know what's coming.You aren't guessing anymore.If you know it's a fastball, you can sit back and take a good cut at it.If you know it's off speed you can adjust, especially if it's a hanger.This is why when a pitcher is tipping his pitches he tends to get lit up.Now imagine you don't even have to look for that, the info is just given to you.  

    • glunn and MN_ExPat like this

I guess I’m not sure how the twins were cheated out of anything. They won their division with 101 wins. Now if it came out that the Yankees cheated, then I’d be upset. In the overarching baseball world, the Astros shouldn’t be recognized as champions of anything. And if they find the same thing in Boston, same deal.


Well, when you lose 20 playoff games in a row (which is impossible in baseball) to a team that has been implicated in this mess by former players (the Yankees), I think it’s clear how the Twins were “cheated out of something.”

Also, the Yankees beat the Twins for home field last year by 2 games, including losing a series at home to the Yankees. You don’t think illegally using video analytics to steal signs for the entire season could’ve changed that outcome?

It’s not bad enough to have the umps calling doubles 3 feet inside of the line foul....you also have to beat the most potent offense in the game when they know what pitch is coming.

I’m not sure how it would work, but I’m pissed if I’m a pitcher like Berrios or Odorizzi. I’m going to players association and elsewhere to see if there is any sort of grievance I can file against the alleged teams or MLB. These guys just negotiated contracts. Playoff victory’s vs playoff losses to the Yankees on their record could cause a difference of millions.
    • TwinsFan347 likes this

 

Strip the Astros of their 2017 World Series title. Today. Do it now.

 

What does stripping them of the title do?Absolutely nothing.It takes down a banner?It puts a "vacated" in the record books?Everyone knows who won, they watched the games.The players played in the games.It's just semantics at that point.I hate how the NCAA vacates titles.I feel it's much more a punishment for the fan base than it is to the players of the franchise themselves personally.

    • Mike Sixel, scottz, Danchat and 5 others like this
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nicksaviking
Jan 14 2020 12:01 PM

 

Small sample size, but 2017:

 

Home vs HOU 0-3

Away vs HOU 1-2

 

I'm going to say that it sucks and it's good the Astros are being punished, but unless the Astros have cameras in opponents' ballparks, they might just have been, you know, good.

 

Houston's 2017 splits:

Home 48W 33L .593
Road 53W 28L .654

 

Also in 2017:

 

Home OPS: .812

Road OPS: .834

 

I have no doubt they were cheating, and I'm not against any or all possible penalties for them, but I don't know that we can draw any definitive conclusions as to what degree the cheating helped.

 

Which if the cheating didn't actually help, getting busted for it and penalized for it makes me smile even more.

 

How?When facing a guy with a great off-speed pitch it gives such advantage, especially in a 0-2 or 1-2 count to know what's coming.You aren't guessing anymore.If you know it's a fastball, you can sit back and take a good cut at it.If you know it's off speed you can adjust, especially if it's a hanger.This is why when a pitcher is tipping his pitches he tends to get lit up.Now imagine you don't even have to look for that, the info is just given to you.  

I'm looking at it from the vantage point of someone like myself. I find it incredible someone can even get around on a 95mph fastball to begin with.

What does stripping them of the title do? Absolutely nothing. It takes down a banner? It puts a "vacated" in the record books? Everyone knows who won, they watched the games. The players played in the games. It's just semantics at that point. I hate how the NCAA vacates titles. I feel it's much more a punishment for the fan base than it is to the players of the franchise themselves personally.

Well, I have an idea. Don’t cheat if you don’t want your fans pissed at you for vacating a title.

There should be more to it on top of vacated team accolades. Verlanders Cy Young should go. Altuve’s MVP should go. The stats players accumulated during those seasons should go. You get no HOF points for those seasons, like roiders. Players don’t like it? Who cares, you knew. And, if you didn’t, go take it up with your teammates/coaches who did. While you’re at it, cry me a river. If I’m complicit in a murder, I don’t get a pass just because it’s inconvenient for me.

There should be forfeited draft picks. There should also be some sort of monetary compensation that gets allocated out to opponents based on number of games played against the Astros. Who knows how much revenue was potentially lost elsewhere.

You’re right, vacating a title is a slap on the wrist. It should be worse than that. But, at the end of the day, what’s the point if you’re not officially vacating titles/awards? It just won’t deter teams like the Yankees and Red Sox who will gladly pay monetary penalties, etc, if it means winning a title. It’s not going to hurt a team fanbase-wise (see Houston’s Twitter). There’s literally no downside to “cheating” if you don’t actually punish somebody. You want to see a useless “punishment?” Suspending the manager for a year.
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Nebraska Nick
Jan 14 2020 12:07 PM

Definitely think the punishment should have been more.Seems like by letting them keep their title and rings, is almost like, a thief robbing a bank, stealing $3 million, getting caught, going to jail for a bit, but still gets to keep the money he stole forever.Does the time, but keeps the royalties to use for when he goes free.