Tag Archives: rugby

The Astros Sign Stealing Scandal and the Importance of Baseball to American Life


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Walt Whitman wrote:

I see great things in baseball. It’s our game — the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.

Baseball, can and should be that, but over the years as a culture and a country we have largely abandoned it in favor of more violent, and supposedly faster paced sports like football, which should be more honestly named slow paced, up-armored Rugby. True football is what we call soccer, a sport where every player, not just the kicker and punter can kick the ball, and where use of the hands to stop the ball by anyone except the goalkeeper is a penalty.

There is a lot going on in the world and in our country worth writing about today. I could write about the coming impeachment trials, the Democratic Party presidential race to the first primaries and caucuses, the crisis with Iran. They are all worthy of writing about. However, something troubles me more, because the issue goes to the heart of who we are as Americans, and what we have lost. That was revealed in the last few days when it was revealed that the Houston Astros and quite likely the Boston Red Sox have been implicated in a scandal that goes to the heart of the game, and to the heart of us as a people, and it is reflected in our culture, our politics, our religion, and the way we do life.

In the film Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones playing the character Terrance Mann, loosely based on the great author J. D. Salinger remarked:

The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.

But the latest scandal involving the upper management of the Astros and Red Sox has probably done more damage to the game than the 1918 Black Sox scandal, and the Steroid Era combined. This time upper management used technology to compromise themselves, their players, and the game itself. No member of the Astros and Red Sox World Series winning teams will escape question, including some of the best recent and young players to have played the game. The actions of A. J. Hinch, Alex Cora, Carlos Beltran and Jeff Luhnow, as well as others certainly to be implicated have harmed the game, and show the depravity of our win at all costs culture, embodied so well by President Donald Trump and our business elites. In sports this has best been seen in the NFL and both the NCAA Football and Basketball organizations, where it is all about winning, and money, with little regard for the players.

With the evidence released when the Mets parted ways with Carlos Beltran  after he was named in, but not suspended by MLB in their investigation of the Astros sign stealing scandal. At the time Beltran was a player, but video showed him along with other players watching the videos from the Center Field Camera as signals were being sent to batters. Another whistleblower revealed that at least some, if not all Astros batters had a buzzer embedded in their uniforms to alert them to the type of pitch coming.

I am sorry, call that whatever you wish cheating, and it is on a scale greater than the Black Sox Scandal of 1918 which resulted in the permanent suspension of eight players for life, including Shoeless Joe Jackson who played an amazing World Series but who was also illiterate, meaning that he probably did not understand the contract he signed to throw the Series. Likewise, the fact that the Pete Rose scandal, which involved his personal betting on games, did not significantly influence his teams record and got him banned from Baseball for life. Yes I will go even father, the PED/steroids scandal which ruined Hall of Fame careers for men who would have magpie it to the Hall of Fame with or without them pales in life significance to this scandal because all of the fact that it was so widespread in MLB. The reality is that all the great players stained with PEDs would have made the Hall of Fame without them, while hundred if not thousands of others, without their degree of talent never saw an increase in their performance tells me that talent, not drugs, was still key to the success of players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons. You don’t have to agree with me, but those are facts. In this case it was upper management, the team Manager, coaches, and b players working together to cheat.

As much as I dislike the Evil Dodgers and Yankees, they did not deserve to be cheated out of League or World Series championships by teams that cheated using technology to skirt the long-standing taboos of Baseball that stealing signs is illegal, immoral, and ignoble, especially when the entire management and many players are in on, is simply dishonorable.

My judgement, and yes I used the word “judgement” not feeling, is that the players who participated in this scheme, even those who turned a blind eye to it need suspensions and reprimands, and maybe bans from playing or participating in the Major Leagues, or any minor league teams associated with a major league franchise. If that applies to Shoeless Joe and the rest of the Eight Men Out, to Pete Rose, and the men who would based on their records be in the Hall of Fame even without their use of PEDs then these men, who did this in the playoffs and World Series, need to be punished even more severely. MLB and the teams concerned need to ban the participants in this cheating scheme from baseball. They need to do what  the NFL and NCAA by and large refuse to do.

Baseball is essentially a peaceful and pastoral game, that when onne understands it makes a part of your heart. It is timeless in a time in an age where time is the enemy to be defeated. It is relatively slow paced, like reading books and classic literature, listening to well reasoned speeches and debates like the Lincoln Douglas debates, debates of substance, not sound bites. It is the fact that most Americans regardless of their political or religious beliefs revel in memes and sound bites, violence and speed, rather than reason, reflection, and respect for our institutions, laws, and conventions which have led us to today.

President Trump and his authoritarian Presidency didn’t just appear out of thin air. Our culture, changed. We came to value short term profits, social Darwinism, and amoral violence conducted by men in uniforms, some military, some law enforcement, and some in sports. They vicariously live the violence that we worship as the cornerstone of power.

Bill Veeck, who was the owner of a rotten White Sox franchise for years said:

Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can’t get you off.

I hope that Major League Baseball makes a clean sweep. The National Football League hasn’t done it, but if baseball does it may again become America’s game, and it may bode well for our society as a whole, even more than religion or politics. I hate to say it, but I have to admit that I have come to like soccer as much or more than baseball. Yes, FIFA has its corruption, but it’s a game that is very hard to cheat at, regardless of the amount of technology available, and the desire to win.

By the way, in 2017 I wanted the Astros to win, without knowing the full story of how they got there.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

5 Comments

Filed under Baseball, ethics, faith, film

Super Bowl LII: A Championship Game for a Dying Sport

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Sunday was the Super Bowl which I watched with friends at Gordon Biersch. Truthfully watching football for me is more a reason to hang out with friends as the game of American Football lost its magic for me years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a well played, competitive, and exciting game; but truthfully I find most NFL games including many Super Bowls to be less than exciting. The hype about the games, the entertainment build up to them even in the regular season, the unending year road coverage and replays of games played the previous season, not to mention the faux patriotic military displays often paid for by our tax dollars make me tired. I agree with conservative columnist George Will, a Baseball man like me that “Football combines two of the worst things in American life. It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”

I have always been a Baseball fan. While American football is simply a game to me, Baseball is a religion.

For me NFL football, with the except of the glory years of the San Francisco 49ers with Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, and coach Bill Walsh is not that special. Tonight’s game was a great game in which the underdog led by an unheralded backup quarterback complete a Cinderella Story, but for the most part the magic is gone.

My lack of real interest in the NFL has nothing to do with the abilities of today’s players; they are outstanding and player for player probably superior to the men who played before them. Nor does my disinterest have anything to do with the kneeling controversy which who I support because ultimately it has to do with the First Amendment. I think that as long as players are forced to be in the field that if they take a knee to protest injustice rather than standing while being even more disrespectful by scratching their ass or balls while acting completely disinterested during the playing of the National Anthem. I find the latter much more disrespectful and offensive than players that take a knee to protest real injustice, but I digress, I chased a rabbit there.

For me the fact is that despite the speed and violence of individual plays the pace of game is incredibly slow and the officiating seems to get worse every year and this is compounded by rules, such as what constitutes a completed pass, that are so subjective as to be a joke. I could go into other criticism of the NFL, it’s culture of violence, and of profit over the welfare of its players; especially over how it has treated its veteran players and their medical issues, particularly CTE and other brain injuries which are cutting short the lives of so many players. While the President of the United States mocks rules designed to protect players, this does matter; this is a game for God’s sake people shouldn’t die or have their lives shortened because they played it and played it well.

When I look at football and its future I see a dying sport. It won’t die tomorrow or even in the next decade but the game itself has to change or die. Tonight’s one that took a player off the field was a concussion injury to New England receiver Brandin Cooks.

The Patriots were denied their 6th Super Bowl title when Tom Brady fumbled with just over two minutes left in the game. They lost to time against a very tough yet under appreciated Philadelphia Eagles team led Nick Foles, by a quarterback who had been written off by most football commentators. Foles not only had a great post season, but a very good Super Bowl, even catching a touchdown pass.

For a Super Bowl, so many of which are disappointing this was a very good one, the underdog won. Philadelphia finally got a Super Bowl title. Their offense pounded the Patriots and in the end their defense sealed the deal breaking up Tom Brady’s Hail Mary pass to Rob Gronkowski with not time left on the clock. While for me it will never have the magic of “The Drive” of the 49ers but it was a great game, especially because New England and the Belichick-Brady cult lost, not that there is anything wrong with that.

I watched it wearing my full Bayern Munchen kit, Thomas Mueller jersey, with matching sweats. Honestly I enjoy watching European, particularly German Bundesliga football to American football. Let’s face it, American football is much close to up-armored Rugby than it is real football because the only people allowed to use their feet on the ball are kickers, punters, and players acting as a kicker or punter; if a regular player kicks the ball during the game it can be a penalty. Really, if players can’t kick the ball how can it be football? That’s no criticism of the players or this Super Bowl, it’s just my opinion. Maybe for truth in advertising the NFL should call the game Gridiron Ball or Up-Armored Slow Paced Rugby. Admittedly that may not help ticket sales or even more television and advertising revenue but it would be more truthful, and who but the President doesn’t like the truth.

Congratulations to Nick Foles and the Eagles. They deserved this win.

Until tomorrow and reality,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under football, Loose thoughts and musings, sports and life