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Volume 26 No. 206
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Latest Sign-Stealing Scandals Show Effect Of More Technology In MLB

Ongoing sign-stealing scandals have the potential to ruin an entire generation of baseball for fans
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Ongoing sign-stealing scandals have the potential to ruin an entire generation of baseball for fans
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Ongoing sign-stealing scandals have the potential to ruin an entire generation of baseball for fans
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

MLB's investigation into both the Astros and Red Sox for alleged illegal sign-stealing is the "reality of what effects technology will have on sports," according to Mike Oz of YAHOO SPORTS. Fans are "long past accepting this as gamesmanship and players at the highest level just being super competitive," and are now left to "wonder whether this is going to be another ugly asterisk" for MLB. These scandals have the potential to "ruin another generation of great baseball," and to "do what the PED era did." MLB "has to send a message that it cares about the integrity of the game, and make it clear to fans what is OK and what isn't." Oz: "It can't be like the PED era all over again" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/8). In Boston, Tom Keegan writes, "If MLB finds the charges against the Astros and Red Sox to be true and doesn't come down hard on both organizations, commensurate with the comparative severity of the offenses, then it will be sending a clear message: Cheat or be left behind. Go for it. Turn baseball into an electronic competition that will make replay rooms seem as technologically primitive as caves." Front offices already are "waging a mathematical war, seeing which analytics department can cobble together the best roster." Now, teams will "see who can recruit the best army of electrical engineers to devise the most sophisticated cheating system" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/9).

TOO MUCH TECH? SI.com's Emma Baccellieri wrote instant replay has "brought about a slew of side effects" that MLB "seemingly never saw coming," with varied effects for the league. The latest investigation is "bad for the Red Sox, of course," but it is "perhaps just as much so for MLB, in that it's now clear that it allowed an environment where this behavior could exist and took years to try and curb it." MLB has "spent the duration of its organized existence steering around tension between sign stealing (fine) and sign stealing with external equipment (not fine)." Teams finding the gray area "between ordinary gamesmanship and out-and-out cheating" is not necessarily "right, or fair, or ethical; it is most often none of these." But MLB's "failure to preemptively guard against replay-room sign stealing was generous at best and naive at worst" (SI.com, 1/8).