It was painful to read. The reports on the apology fest of the Astros leave you with one thought, “C’mon guys!”The report of the Commissioner, which you can find here (https://img.mlbstatic.com/mlb-images/image/upload/mlb/cglrhmlrwwbkacty27l7.pdf.) reads a tad differently. The union got the players immunity for their roles, and it showed.
The Astros had developed a system for decoding their opposing teams’ sign sequences using live game feed. Over time, they then evolved their means for getting that information to the dugout. They went from runners being sent to the dugout, to text messages from the review room to a smart watch or cell phone in the dugout, to phone calls to the review room from the dugout. Then there was the hurdle of getting the info to the batters. They went from clapping, whistling, yelling, and eventually to banging on the garbage can with a bat, which proved to be the perfect low-tech finish to high-tech espionage.
The report concludes that most of the players received signals from the banging and added:
“Several players told my investigators that there was a sense of “panic” in the Astros’ dugout after White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar appeared to notice the trash can bangs. Before the game ended, a group of Astros players removed the monitor from the wall in the tunnel and hid it in an office. For the Postseason, a portable monitor was set up on a table to replace the monitor that had been affixed to the wall near the dugout.”
The report does not offer conclusions on whether the decoding and banging helped the Astros. However, here is some insight from the Barometer — ignorant in all matters related to sports — in post-season play, the Astros were 2-6 in their road games and 8-1 at home. Ah, the power of those Home-town cheers.
The stark reality of the report does not match the apologies, coupled with a large dose of, “Who knew?” and “It didn’t make a difference.” Okay, on that last one, with one question, “Then why did you do it?”
There was a lot of hedging, hemming, hawing, hesitation, and hubris in the apology campfire meeting. What was missing was full admission and sincere regret. Worse, the folks who worked in the video room are still there — that’s not immunity, that’s organizational culture. The overall message was not what the Commish hoped for in requiring the apologies. Here’s the meeting in a nutshell. “It was bad. We are done with this. We still won.”