We all know MLB teams cheat. It’s not really news at this point. The fact that the Astros stole signs using a camera live-feed throughout their winning 2017 season barely came as a surprise to most fans of the game. In truth, cheating has been going on since the MLB first began. While players probably aren’t using PEDs to the extent they were in the 80s, and match-fixing (probably) isn’t as common as it was during the Babe Ruth era, it’s clear that teams are still blatantly cheating in the MLB.
The question is: why? Or more importantly – why hasn’t it been stopped?
Let’s take the recent electronic sign stealing as an example, because it’s in the news at the moment. In 2017, the Red Sox were caught doing a similar sort of thing to what the Astros did – stealing signs and relaying this information back to the dugout with an Apple Watch.
After the Astros were found out, the MLB stated that it received a number of complaints about teams using technology to steal signs during the 2017 season. If this was the case, why did it take an ex-Astros pitcher to come out and snitch on them for the team to be held accountable? Why wasn’t this investigated properly after the complaints were initially made?
Only now, once the media got hold of the story, does the MLB investigate the Astros’ behavior during the 2017 season. This is despite how obvious the banging noise before change-ups is to anyone watching Astros home game replays from two years ago.
And do you know what the best part is?
It’s very unlikely that the Astros will face any significant punishment.
For the same crime, the Red Sox were issued a small fine – no points deductions, no draft picks given up – no nothing. We can say with almost 100% certainty that the Astros will get to keep their dirty World Series title.
So why has the MLB turned a blind eye to cheating?
The MLB wants teams to cheat
We’re not saying that the MLB is telling teams to cheat. But they’re not doing much to stop it.
There’s good reason for this.
It’s in their best interests for there to be cheating in the Major League. At the moment, the MLB needs to do whatever’s necessary to keep the masses watching baseball. And what better way to keep the sport in the media than a good old fashioned cheating scandal?
Whether you believe in the juiced ball theory or not, it’s clear that the MLB is panicking about declining viewership. The 2019 World Series was the third least-viewed edition of all time – only 2008 and 2012 were lower.
More media coverage means more free press for baseball. And that’s just what the game needs right now. The problem with this strategy is it’s incredibly risky. If fans lose faith that teams play fair, viewership will decline further still. And obviously, it’s not fair to lifelong fans, nor players. Teams that cheat have a clear advantage. It’s not an even playing field, because not every team is cheating.
This is why Mike Fiers decided to speak out against the Astros. After he left Houston for the Tigers, he found that most youth pitchers at his new team weren’t aware that sign stealing was so common.
“We had a lot of young guys with Detroit trying to make a name and establish themselves. I wanted to help them out and say, ‘Hey, this stuff really does go on. Just be prepared.'”
How can we fix this?
The MLB has had cheaters for as long as baseball has been played in the USA. But viewership hasn’t always been so low. Therefore, this isn’t the whole story. To eliminate cheating in the MLB, we need to take a good look at the people that run the league and how the Major League operates.
Clearly, there aren’t yet the appropriate processes in place to ensure that the game is played fairly. Ideally, it would be great to see a dedicated cheating watchdog set up – one with real power to take proactive measures against teams that break the rules. However, it’s pretty unlikely that anything like this is going to happen any time soon.
What we can do as MLB fans is keep an eye out for obvious cheating. Only when fans, coaches, or players bring cheating to light is the MLB forced to step in. For now though, all we do is wait and hope that the Dodgers play on a level playing field. Whether it be by cheating themselves, or because other teams do the honorable thing, and play baseball as it’s supposed to be played.
With thanks to https://liftyourgame.net/