Open Letter to Baseball

Dear Baseball.

I used to like you . A lot. A long time fan of the game for my entire life. Sure, you haven’t been without drama, but man, you always know how to put on a statistical show. The game within the game. The beautiful sanctity of the pitcher / batter duel with a supporting cast.

Oh, and you are a shithead and ruined yourself, Baseball. Thanks to how you handled the latest scandal. And ignored the underlying problem.

This was cheating, pure and simple. And the worst kind. Cheating that rewarded the cheaters. With a championship, and not a single penalty for the players that cheated their way to millions of dollars and a World Series Championship.

Nice message. Hey, doesn’t matter how you cheat, because if you get caught, you will still be way ahead of the game. Not accounting for current and future contracts, the players split around 30 million for winning. All of them got to keep their bonus for cheating and winning. All of them.

The Astros have an annual operating revenue of 365 million. Their fine in all of this was 5 million dollars. Their owner has a net worth of 1.6 Billion. Let that sink in. Sure, there were fall guys, but they are all multi-millionaires already. None of them were the players that did the cheating. And the owner made a killing in profits by having a world series winner.

This is the current scandal, that the MLB commissioner is largely fine with (any publicity is good, right?) but this scandal isn’t the underlying problem.

It’s how they have always handled cheating. Let’s look at PEDs and Steroid use, which are illegal.

Their PED problem is a joke, and the fines are an even bigger joke. Braun, one of the best players in baseball, was suspended without pay for 65 games. At that time he was making 9 million per year. Losing 40% of 9 million sure does sound like it is painful! Except, on his return from suspension, he signed a 5 year, 105 Million dollar contract. After getting caught using steroids, and admitting it. He was rewarded as a super millionaire. I hated it then. I hate it now. Why would you NOT use steroids as a baseball player, when at the end, you are rewarded with a 100 million dollar contract anyway?

The Players Union is complicit in all of this. They should be rooting out their own cheaters, not protecting them.

I am done with baseball. I know, I am one person who goes to games, buys merchandise, watches baseball on TV, stream it on my phone, loves travelling to other ball parks for the experience. I am done. Until something is done about this, I am flat out done as a fan.

What would I do to fix the problem? It’s as simple as you want to make it, depending if you really want a clean sport or not.

Cheat with steroids? you are done as a baseball player. Let’s see how many take that chance now. Life will go on without the cheaters. They can get real jobs like the real people who spend $100+ for bleacher seats. Zero. Tolerance. Policy. Most of them already have millions in the bank anyway. I’d go after that too, since it was earned cheating. They should be liable. House, cars, investments. Losing a few cheaters is not going to hurt the league. Not one bit. Thousands play in the world and there are always new talent coming up.

Again, who will risk all of that? Not as many. Some will, but the first time a guy loses his fortune over it, instead of EARNING a fortune for it, is when you send a true message. That is how you stop the steroids problem. (Let’s not boo-hoo about false positives and what not, we are talking proof.)

As a secondary side point, if you still want the cheaters around at least make the financial hit meaningful. You can never make above minimum salary – ever again. (In baseball, that is still $555,000 a year or something like that, so don’t cry for them Argentina.)

Secondly, for the Astros.

World Series is Negated. No winner.

You can’t play in another playoff game for 5 years.

You don’t draft 1st or second round for 5 years. (First rounders only pan out as actual players 2/3 of the time, second rounders around 50% – so this isn’t even that big of a penalty)

Financial penalty of your player’s payroll, to charity. Donated by the players of the years they cheated. This can be taken from future earnings. Or donate all of your postseason ticket proceeds to charity.

Sound harsh? Yes. For 5 years. It has to be so harsh that teams realize its a bad idea to support cheating, and make it easier for your team and the players to do it. The pain has to be bad.

Because right now, you have 29 other MLB teams installing cameras because MLB is allowing the juice to be worth the squeeze. They are making cheating worth it.

MLB baseball has handed out a proper penalty once. Pete Rose. Banned for life for betting on a game when he wasn’t even a player (but a Manager). That is the kind of seriousness this cheating should be taken with. I offered financial penalties above with ideas, but let’s really send a message.

Think a team would do it again, after that?

(Commissioner should lose his job too.)

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oh, the cameras are already there. They have been for decades. The teams are all now just setting up the software and communications relays like the Astros did to put it all in motion. How do you punish the next team after you let the Astros slide?

    My thought, after all of that, was just to let them off the leash as far as electronic means go. Let both sides in a game mic up the whole team, encrypted comms, and whatever else they want to use to pass messages around. The tech is only going to get better and, at some point, it will pass the point of being easy to detect. Remove that camera from center field and at some point there will just be a guy sitting in the bleachers with special glasses that will catch the signals or something like that. Get ahead of it all now and forget the hallowed traditions of how things were done back in the day. Without sanctions, the genie is effectively out of the bottle anyway.

    But I am also a heretic at this point. I lost faith in the late 90s with the doping. To my mind the whole league needs a reset, a new era, now that the records are tainted by players who used PEDs. And to get a new era you have to make enough changes to make comparisons facile, so MLB should cut loose. DH is now standard. Half as many games in the season. Six inning games. Allow ties except in the playoffs or have a pitch-off/bat-off to avoid extra inning. Aluminum bats. Comms units on the players. Base sensors. Electronics on the ball and let a computer call balls and strikes. Go freaking nuts.

    It won’t happen. MLB is so hidebound that it would take a herculean effort to get them to re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. They’ll sit and argue about the traditional angle of the chair backs until the whole ship sinks.

  2. They have used ball/strikes technology in Japan that is over 97% accurate – which is far, far more accurate than human umpires. There is the odd obvious miss but that is also why you keep umps there (and to call tags, etc.). Agree with the electronification – if you don’t have to do signs because you have an earpiece in, and a statistician is pumping pitches and locations to the pitcher AND the catcher it might make for a more interesting game. A pitch timer – the next pitch has to be delivered in 10 seconds. And you only get three pickoff attempts per inning. Total. Stuff like that.

    Anyway, I wasn’t really mad about it all until I started hearing how mad the Astros players, owners and managers were – and the claims they made that it didnt affect the outcome. That was when I realized how messed up everything is.

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