Do you have Sign-Stealing Tired Head? TOO BAD. It's going to dominate the early part of the offseason. We got a brief respite when the A&M guy tried to kill the Okie State guy but baseball has nothing on which to focus other than a rotating set of headlines like "Should The Astros Get It," "How Are The Astros Going To Get It," "Why The Astros Should Get It," "Why The Astros Didn't Get It Enough," and "Let's Make The Astros Get It More."
*Baseball Prospectus' Rob Arthur checked the audio data for trash can banging. MLB is moving quickly in its investigation into the Astros "culture," and they are now interviewing players.
You have to understand that the Astros are now an opportunity for MLB. Are the Astros guilty of stealing signs? I believe so. Are they the only ones doing it? I don't think so.
But, thanks to "tanking," thanks to Brady Aiken/Jacob Nix, thanks to defensive shifting, thanks to firing scouts, thanks to Astroball, thanks to Yuli's gesture at Yu Darvish, thanks to trading for Osuna, thanks to Verlander being an ass to the Detroit Writer Guy (with the Astros' media relations staff's blessing), thanks to Taubman, thanks to whatever injustice every other team feels when it comes to Jeff Luhnow and the Astros, it is a subtle opportunity for MLB to provide an outlet for all of the Baseball Community's frustration and Make An Example. Even if you don't think any of the above is worthy of getting all riled up about, other fan bases do and that's what's driving this whole thing. For an organization that tries as hard as possible to control their narrative (there are three points of contact with the media: Hinch, Luhnow, and Crane. Have you noticed that almost nobody else says anything?), this narrative is now outside of their control.
Never mind that Josh Hader (racist tweets as a young fella) and Aroldis Chapman (suspended for domestic violence) were honored as the relievers of the year in the Year of Our Lord 2019. Never mind that MLB has no idea what the actual physical baseball will do what at any given point. Never mind that the umpiring in the World Series was a disaster (I will go to my grave believing that Juan Soto should have struck out and Greinke would have kept pitching in Game 7). Before the 2019 postseason even started Bleacher Report's Scott Miller singled out Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and Arizona as being "especially adept" at stealing signs. Despite me literally just now doing what I'm about to tell you not to do, yelling "other teams did it too!" isn't going to move the needle.
This is where we are. Every time the Cardinals did basically anything and we all laughed about changing our passwords? That's about to get returned ten-fold. Forever. The day where Yankees fans sit back and have a reflective moment and think, "You know, we did this, too..." is not coming. It's how it is now. The narrative was already that the Astros spit in the face of baseball and all of her hallowed tradition. It's set now.
The Astros are going to get popped here. Probably loss of draft picks and a fine that won't do much in the way of denting Jim Crane's bottom line. Maybe international spending money, as well. But MLB has an opportunity to flex its muscle, punish the Astros for the "culture" that created Taubman, and also to let the Astros serve as a warning to the rest of the league.
Beyond the Box Score: Legally, why the sign-stealing matters. Click the link for what the Astros and Martha Stewart just might have in common.
*Jake Kaplan takes a look at the state of Astros catchers in 2020.
Team leader in Games Caught, Astros:
2019: Robinson Chirinos (112)
2018: Max Stassi (83)
2017: Brian McCann (95)
2016: Jason Castro (111)
*The Athletic's Chad Jennings worked through his thought process in how he ended up with Trout as MVP, and Bregman as runner-up.
*Thoughts & prayers to Alex Bregman, who has lost two grandparents in the last month.
*There's a new proposed rule that would eliminate the 10-Day IL for pitchers, returning it to 15 days (again, just for pitchers). And let's recap the new rules that will go into effect in 2020:
-Active roster of 26, not 25.
-September roster expansion to 28, not 40.
-Barring injury or the end of an inning, pitchers are required to throw to three batters. Yahoo's Tim Brown: This rule is stupid. I agree.
-Position players can only pitch in extra innings or when a team leads/trails by at least seven runs.
*Growing Up in Levittown: How a quintessential Long Island suburb was built on rules that still shape it today.
*Three Indiana judges were suspended after drinking, trying to go to a strip club at 3am, and ended up in a shooting in a White Castle parking lot. White Castle sounds pretty good right now, not gonna lie.
*The crazy story of how Mary Steenburgen woke up after minor arm surgery and wrote one of the best original songs for a movie.
*The secret life of the audiobook star.
*A Musical Selection: