Unless you have been living under a rock since mid-November, you have heard about the 2017 Houston Astros using technology to steal signs to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents.
When former Astro and current Oakland A’s staring pitcher Mike Fiers went on record with The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal, speaking out on how his former team stole catchers’s signs, it turned the baseball world on it’s ear (the Drellich/Rosenthal piece can be read here).
Needless to say, Fiers’s former teammates are upset that he broke an unwritten code of clubhouse culture. Major league clubhouses are sacred. What goes on in a clubhouse is supposed to stay in a clubhouse. Fiers may never be fully trusted again by some current and future teammates because he went against the grain, letting team doings become public.
On social media, the reaction has been mixed. Many folks are calling Fiers a hero (including this writer), and many are destroying him, calling him a rat, a bad teammate and many words unsuitable to repeat here. Reactions from many ex-players, including Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez had this to say:
Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez doesn’t support Astros whistleblower Mike Fiers; ‘You’re just a bad teammate’ https://t.co/cAxGWsbPBg
— Christopher Smith (@SmittyOnMLB) January 21, 2020
Mike Fiers was the first former Astros player to speak out, but I don’t think he will be the last. Players are human beings, and many human beings have consciences. Fiers proved he has one by going public. But he can’t be the only one who feels the same way about his team’s cheating. Immediately after Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, former Astro Gerrit Cole distanced himself from the team.
Gerrit Cole, an impending free agent, was resistant to talk after Game 7.
“I’m not an employee of the team,” he said to an Astros spokesperson. “I guess as a representative of myself…” Then he spoke.
— Hunter Atkins (@HunterAtkins35) October 31, 2019
This is certainly not to say Cole will say anything at all regarding the Astros’s indiscretions, but it makes me question whether he agreed with what his former teammates were doing.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the current Houston squad was cleared of any wrongdoing, but let’s remember how Jose Altuve jumped all over a slider thrown by New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman to end the ALCS, and had a look of terror on his face as he told his team not to rip off his jersey. He did that for a reason.
It makes a lot more sense why Jose Altuve didn’t want his teammates to rip his jersey off after he hit walk-off HR to win the pennant 🧐🧐🧐 pic.twitter.com/VTW3WbmNQ2
— Kent (@RealKentMurphy) January 16, 2020
Two days ago, Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, a member of the Astros from 2012-18, gave something of an apology, saying he is “sorry for the situation”, but also pointed out they didn’t cheat every game.
Keuchel apologizes for Astros sign-stealing scandal. Said it was “not like every game we had it going on.” pic.twitter.com/oAS4DewLk5
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) January 24, 2020
But make no mistake, Keuchel wasn’t happy the aforementioned “clubhouse code of silence” was broken.
Asked what he thought of Mike Fiers going on the record about the Astros using technology to steal signs, Dallas Keuchel said it's a "tough subject."
"It sucks to the extent of that the clubhouse rule was broken," he said.
— Madeline Kenney (@madkenney) January 24, 2020
This isn’t over by any stretch, and I think as time goes by, more people will shed light on what really happened. It’s just a matter of how long and how many people have a conscious. Stay tuned.