MLB Week in Review (October 12-18)

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This week, a familiar refrain rang out from teams in the postseason and one team in particular.

That was the talk about teams trying to stretch the rules to suit them and get an edge in the most important games of the season.

The topic of cheating is a sensitive but common one in the MLB as there seems to be a constant mistrust in the air.

Baseball is a sport that can quite literally come down to a fraction of an inch or a fraction of a second.

It might not be the most physically demanding sport out there but it is one of the most precise and skilled.

To hit a baseball takes a lot of skill especially when that baseball is travelling close to 100 mph and you have a fraction of a second to figure out where to swing.

There are a lot of ways to do that as batters read reports on what pitchers like to throw in different situations or look at film to see if a pitcher has a particular tell when pitching.

Reaction time and scouting are essential to the game because swinging at the right time could make the difference between a home run and a strikeout.

With such a tight window for success, it is easy to see why there would be some suspicions that teams take liberties in trying to find a slight advantage.

Teams have been accused of just about everything in baseball and in some ways these things are accepted.

Sign-stealing has always been one of the biggest issues in the game and yet there is a widely held belief that everyone does it at some point.

Generally, there are different levels to the sign-stealing game as it is almost assumed that the lower level is done every game.

That would be a base runner, usually someone on second base, looking at signs from the catcher and relaying them to the batter.

The goal would be to give the batter an edge in knowing what pitch is coming allowing them to prepare and have a better idea of where the ball is going.

This type of sign-stealing seems to be no big deal until someone actually comes out and accuses another player.

Even then it tends to go away pretty quickly as catchers so often mix up the signs with someone on second that it is just a widely accepted truth of the game.

It tends to cross a line when it comes to things that are done outside of the field as plots have been thrown out multiple times as going too far.

There was a time when the Toronto Blue Jays were accused of placing a “Man in White” in the outfield to relay signs to the batter.

It was the reasoning behind the home runs that the Blue Jays were suddenly experiencing and many people took it seriously.baseball-sidebar

The reality was that someone accurately seeing signs from that far away and relaying them in time to a batter that far away never really made a lot of sense.

There have been similar accusations throughout the years as every team is paranoid about their opponents getting that upper hand.

That suspicion leaked into the postseason this year the Boston Red Sox accused the Houston Astros of going too far.

It came in Game 3 of the ALCS when an Astros staffer stood by the Boston dugout filming the dugout.

For the Red Sox, this was a clear sign that the Astros were filming the dugout to steal signs and figure out what the Red Sox were trying to do in the game.

The MLB looked into the matter and the Astros avoided any punishment after using the excuse that they were just making sure that Boston wasn’t trying to do anything illegal.

It seems like a pretty bad excuse as the Astros essentially said they were spying to make sure the Red Sox weren’t spying.

Still, the MLB bought the excuse and moved on but reports have surfaced that this isn’t the first time that the Astros have done this.

Teams had been warned before they played the Astros that there could be some shady stuff happening during the game.

Although the MLB has moved on there may be discipline later on in the offseason because the investigation was likely just to get back to baseball.

When baseball is finally over the Astros may face harsher punishment especially if other teams are just as upset as the Red Sox were.

For now, the MLB avoided any issues as the Red Sox beat the defending World Champions leaving this as a non-issue for the time being.

There will be more talk in the offseason as teams come forward to complain and call-out the Astros but for now the league looks to the World Series and tries to avoid any more controversy.

 

Extra Innings

HR Controversy

In two series that seem to be surrounded by controversy, the Houston Astros found their way into the fight. In Game 4 of the ALCS the Astros were accused of cheating but at the end of the game, it was Houston claiming that something fishy was going on. In the first inning, the Astros were down 2-0 when Jose Altuve hit a two-run HR to tie the game up and avoid getting down early. Then umpire Joe West ruled that the home run was no longer a home run because of fan interference. West ruled that a fan had reached over the fence and prevented Mookie Betts from making the catch. Instant replay upheld the call but for many that ball was over the fence but without a proper angle of the fence there was nothing to prove their claim.

Changes in Miami

The Derek Jeter led Marlins are making more changes although this time, less on the field than off of the field. The Marlins will reportedly launch a new logo before the end of the year getting rid of the colourful M logo they launched eight years ago. It won’t be the only change though as the ugliest home run feature in baseball will move from centre field to outside of the stadium. The Marlins got caught up in the need for a home run feature when building their new stadium and build a sculpture with just about everything to do with Miami in it to signal home runs. It as the same time ugly and a fan favourite for the fact that it is ugly but for the Marlins it is now a thing of the past, at least inside the stadium.

Machado Punished

Things can get chippy when the stakes get higher and in the postseason everything will be amplified. That is what has happened to Manny Machado as he caused the benches to clear in Game when he kicked Jesus Aguilar while running through first base. It was likely a response from the way Aguilar made sure Machado knew he was out by standing on the base longer than normal. The incident led to many pointing out that it was nothing new for Machado to do something a little dirty and that he could be the dirtiest player in baseball. Whether that is true or not the MLB was not about to take a big name out of the postseason and so they handed Machado and the Dodgers a fine and moved on to more baseball.

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