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Front Page: Have the Twins Been Getting Beaten by Cheaters?

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:02 AM

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.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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#2 Blake

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:10 AM

I was talking to a guy that knows a bit about this, he was a catcher in the minor leagues, and he thinks stealing signs the traditional way is part of the game, but electronic sign stealing is a bridge too far.

 

Which I agree with.

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#3 Seth Stohs

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:10 AM

Trevor Plouffe, as well:

 

 

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#4 jbissell

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:24 AM

I think it would be a bit naive to think the Twins have not been the victims of this kind of cheating. Its highly possible the Yankees have been cheating their arses off while waxing the Twins each and every time they played each other...

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#5 Nick Nelson

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:24 AM

 

I was talking to a guy that knows a bit about this, he was a catcher in the minor leagues, and he thinks stealing signs the traditional way is part of the game, but electronic sign stealing is a bridge too far.

 

Which I agree with.

100%. I have no problem with a guy on second base trying to signal to the guy at home. Part of the game. But using video crosses a line, starkly. 

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#6 vavo

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:34 AM

Probably mostly bitterness, but during our latest Yankees humiliation I thought many times the Yankees knew what was coming. Watching them spit on good 2 strike pitches an inch off the zone over and over is enough to drive a guy nuts.

 

I assume the Twins were being reasonably cautious and switching up signs all the time, but has anyone gone back and checked?

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#7 rdehring

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:34 AM

Is stealing signs the old fashioned way, ie, a runner on second signals the hitter, legal?I would think it should be. 

 

But doing it with video/technology must be eliminated from the game.This type of severe penalty should be a big step towards doing that.Not only will the loss of two top draft picks hurt the Astros, but will help every other team as two players who would have been gone when they pick in every round after the second will now be available.


#8 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:49 AM

So Beltran and other players who participated will not be punished. Boston, other than Cora, nothing. Crane's Asstros lose 4 draft picks and 5 mil. That's an easy incentive to cheat. This destroys the integrity of the game. Personally this could signal my walking away from this game.

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#9 Blake

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:51 AM

 

Is stealing signs the old fashioned way, ie, a runner on second signals the hitter, legal?I would think it should be. 

 

But doing it with video/technology must be eliminated from the game.This type of severe penalty should be a big step towards doing that.Not only will the loss of two top draft picks hurt the Astros, but will help every other team as two players who would have been gone when they pick in every round after the second will now be available.

I believe there has been an explicit ban on electronic sign stealing for quite a while, which I believe factored into the harsh penalties levied against Houston.

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#10 Blake

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:57 AM

In looking at Logan Morrison's accusation, meh.

 

If the teams listed were using electronics to pick up signs, I'm not sure I care, because it doesn't appear it was being used in real time, unlike what Houston was doing.


#11 SomeGuy

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:03 AM

Sports Illustrated had this tidbit indicating that at least 8 teams might have been guilty of this.

 

In the kind of informational archeology reminiscent of The Steroid Era, baseball is learning what happens when “gaining an edge” pushes into new frontiers. Two sources familiar with the investigation, which lasted three months and included more than 70,000 e-mails and 60 interviews, said various Astros personnel told MLB investigators about eight other teams who used technology to steal signs in 2017 or 2018–such was the culture of the time.

 

This reminds me of the Pineda pine tar incident where it was so painfully obvious that the league had no choice but to oppose it.They were probably telling him couldn't you just put it in your glove like everyone else.

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#12 Linus

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:08 AM

I absolutely believe this cheating on par with PEDs. To know what pitch is coming is a huge advantage
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#13 stringer bell

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:09 AM

Specifically about the Yankees, I'd like to believe it is all about sign stealing, but New York has compiled such a huge advantage over Minnesota as compared to other teams that I doubt it is all sign stealing.

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#14 SQUIRREL

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:15 AM

Moderator note: To remind readers, there has been an ongoing discussion about this case in the Other Baseball forum. Since it was contained to the Astros, and now somewhat Boston, and a more general discussion, it wasn't a Twins article so remains there. But in case you want to read/see all the comments so far, from the time this came to light back in November, here is the link to that discussion thread:

http://twinsdaily.co...e-6#entry949361

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“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

#15 USAFChief

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:15 AM

 

I absolutely believe this cheating on par with PEDs. To know what pitch is coming is a huge advantage

No.

 

PED use was widespread, and lasted for more than a decade.

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#16 David HK

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:25 AM

 

So Beltran and other players who participated will not be punished. Boston, other than Cora, nothing. Crane's Asstros lose 4 draft picks and 5 mil. That's an easy incentive to cheat. This destroys the integrity of the game. Personally this could signal my walking away from this game.

Well, that shoe may be yet to drop, but in light of the evidence given so far, Cora and Beltran both need to be spanked- hard. And both of them Mlb managers? No way those slimy dudes should walk, or get a slap on the wrist. We'll see.

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#17 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:27 AM

At least, we know the Twins didn’t cheat. Because Minnesota teams always get caught when they cheat (Joe Smith, Tice tickets, Gophers everything . . .)

#18 MMMordabito

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:27 AM

 

So Beltran and other players who participated will not be punished. Boston, other than Cora, nothing. Crane's Asstros lose 4 draft picks and 5 mil. That's an easy incentive to cheat. This destroys the integrity of the game. Personally this could signal my walking away from this game.

 

We probably need to let the investigations play out further for the Red Sox.I agree with your allusion to the light punishment.If Morrison is correct that this has been going on since 2014, then Luhnow should be receiving more than one year.Looking at the staff, the only holdovers from 2014 to 2017 were Luhnow and then a couple of pitching coaches: Brent Strom and Craig Bjornson.

 

Maybe the league can get Bo Porter to shed a little light on this mess.He was kicked to the curb just before the org started towards winning. Maybe there's a little vendetta there.

 

Porter was fired on Monday, September 1, 2014.

 

(less to do with the team's 59-79 record than the need for "new direction" and a "united message throughout the entire organization.)

 

I'm injecting, but perhaps Porter wasn't a fan of the "message" and wasn't willing to comply.It seems Hinch wasn't a fan either, but he was willing to comply with the "united message".


#19 KidBro

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:28 AM

It seems the Twins set the all time MLB HR record el natural....... Give them a banner to hang, what an accomplishment..... for the hitters. 

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#20 MMMordabito

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 09:29 AM

BTW, love the photo, Nick.

 

Maybe those 2017 rings should be "taken back".

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