Astros, Baseball, Houston discussed on The GM Shuffle
Tv ratings of Zero Point Zero in Houston that Nielsen couldn't verify that one huge donation had watched their games. So I kinda wanted to go down there to figure out what was going on. You know what was the plan? Was there any plan whatsoever? I went down with really just an open mind. I came away thinking that there was a plan. It was one that I'd never seen before or heard of before the way. They were committed to process the way they were committed to leveraging analytics in a very disciplined way combining their analytics with human observations. Get the best out of both man and machine. It really seems as if they're in the nascent stages of building something new and something special which is what led to that cover prediction And what led to my coverage of them over the next four to five years during which time it kind of improbably worked out now. I think that two things can be true. I think that this can still be a very innovative organization. That invented that were pioneers of that was on the vanguard of so many things that have not proliferated across baseball and across sports. You know in many ways so many positive things helping guys figured out how to get the most out of their skills about properly identifying and evaluating talent you know about committing to a process over have hoping for an outcome. I think those things are all good. I think that there was clearly this darker side to the operation. And I'm going to try to figure out my podcast exactly how this thing happened. You know how this emerged as part of the operation but there's a darker side of the operation since that perhaps and. I'm speculating a bit here. That this age he can culture a culture committed to finding an edge in everything above costs could have led them to the embracing of an edge. That was not as positive to put it mildly. That's where I wanted to kind of go like. How did this start like? Where did the genesis of this? This intern who invented dark arts. Is he the guy that said? Hey if you know if we you know almost like Gilligan's island they got this Structure Code Morris Code you know it's like did he come up with the plan and then he put it the. Ludd now and hench and say okay. Here's what I think we can do for the hitters and then I mean to convince baseball players that they're going to buy in or any pro athlete that you're gonNA be able to deliver on the good. You promise them there's got to be a little bit of a you know. A trust factor. Like it's gotTa be proven like if I went into a scouting room and I told the defensive lineman anytime. The centres left hand is on his hip. It's definitely going to be a pass when it's dangling in between his legs it's run. They're going to challenge me on that right. They're not taking it for gold. Like how did this become gold? Well that's certainly what I'm going to investigate In the next several months putting together this podcast the origins of how this happened are I'm sure multifactorial and there's still a bit muddy Mike. Look the Astros. Were very good at figuring out kind of underlying truth right and how the game works. I think it's not that hard to envision over time a slippery slope in which yeah maybe. The Front Office gave the players resources how to do this. A lot of this was certainly player directed as I said like the very concept of stealing signs was not something that was outlawed in baseball right. This is something that's been going on for hundreds of years. So maybe over time if your players or even the front office it's hard to kind of differentiate the new way in which you're doing it from the way it's always been done plus it was such a clear advantage right and how it was helping everybody. I think there was probably a sense in the clubhouse as I said that everybody in the League was gonna be doing this in some way just because it was so obvious. I'm sure they had some proof. That other teams were doing it. Do I think it's possible that the Astros were better at it? Because they were so savvy or came up with a more complicated system. Yeah that's certainly possible. Maybe they were the best of it but certainly can imagine a general sense in the clubhouse that hey this is what's happening base right now. Everybody's doing it to us. We're going to beat them at this game it's gamesmanship it's part of the game Clearly they knew to hide it but you know stealing signs and never been out in the open. Distant kind of a somewhat passably accepted practice. And I think it's the sort of thing that's snowballed from there into. What now is and seems like that. They cancelled baseball and decades. It's really remarkable that it's taken over. I mean the steroid. Thank to me was so obvious. And it did impact the game like it did in football the seventies. Because you know we saw a lot of players. He the but they didn't really understand what steroids was about in the seventies. I mean it was just it was supposed to be. I know when I first got started in Scouting. Steroids was looked at as. You're trying to help yourself. It wasn't going to hurt your body. Then we found out through medicine that became just dramatically Devastating to what you were trying to do to your body but the Starwood to me is is bigger but I. I have a sense that this we were just on the cusp of this Ben. I think this is going to be bigger. And I and I think if I were the commissioner you know I would be a little bit like Logan Roy and try to contain this. Because I think this is because there's no fricken way that some player left a Houston and went to some other team and didn't say hey man we should do this right like it's gotta be elsewhere right if you remember Mike. The initial athletic story that started to blows open the second part of the headline was part of an epidemic in Major League baseball right suggesting that yes the Astros. Maybe we're the worst. Violators at least the first violators to be revealed. But this is something that was going on across Major League Baseball. That's how the story came from the beginning. That's been lost a little bit. And yes. The Red Sox were waiting for their punishments. Come down I don't expect it to be as severe although it'll probably be pretty severe. I think the Commissioner's Office. And the owners of the club are very incentivized to limit the damage to where it stands right I think I agree with you that it's hard to believe that this thing doesn't spread now. Is it just a matter of degrees? Oh well the Astros are the worst that everyone else is doing a little bit. Maybe that'll help but like to me. I'm not sure I'm not sure how to draw the line between what is outrageous behavior that deserves a beating and which is kind of more in line with a slightly more modern version of something. That's always happened in the game. Don't know I mean one thing is for certain is that this story is not ending when the red sox penalties are announced. Right which we're expecting next week. Ben So that you're right. I could have more repercussions if all of a sudden they were guilty of similar fractures. Okay who's next team etc or is that it does. The Commissioner's office okay. We got teams. Don't want this distraction the season ultimately. We all know this. You always eat a great villain. Every story the ashes are now that Villainy Major League Baseball. What I think is fascinating. Let's guys can we for the season to start anyways but now got every Houston? Astros game is going to be disseminated like the Zapruder film if they get off to a great start. Bet It's amazing because then they're going to get emboldens. Screw you guys yeah fi? We cheated but you know we did win. Road Games okay. The method wasn't one hundred percent foolproof. We're still great players. Were proving it to you now so you can stick it but of course even more fascinating is a great team like that if they could opt to a bad start if I'll to a one for twenty five slide and he's not taking his jersey. Then you'll really get these catcalls. I think I just can't wait for the season to begin. Obviously with your podcast coming out this summer. There's no shortage of material with which people are going to be watching these Astros Games. You're right actually. Even thought too much about you know if these guys get off to an absolutely terrible start how that might snowball publicly. I frankly think the bigger obstacle to their success this year then presumably not benefiting from any signs stealing slash any hangover or continuance of this Backlash or the Yankees and the dodgers. Right like it's the first season in several years which I when. I'm looking at the League as an analyst. I'm not thinking the Astros are the favorite again There at least two other seemingly more talented superpowers out there. Well certainly going to be an amazing story. Last one four four. Let you go ben and again. We appreciate the time. I know how busy are right now. Jayson stark our friend was saying this is the biggest scandal in one hundred years as black sox scandal can you? I'm sure you'll do this in the podcasters as well. And obviously in your stories sl but what parallels would you draw for like a fifteen year old baseball fan listening to this podcast right now? Who is intimately familiar with Eddie? See Cotton Charles Comiskey and shoeless Joe Jackson. What perilous would you draw between what happened with the black socks and what happened with this? Astros team. I certainly think the black sox scandal was worth you know as far as intentionally losing a world series for Gambler. That's not exactly what they did here. But this is certainly one of those scandals that comes along every couple of decades that will shape the sport. I mean you know you can go back to the steroid era as probably the most recent one that is kind of comparable. I guess again. The difference is just the anger in the rest of the League. Right like I was thinking about this. We were talking about it a little bit at the MLB network. Yesterday wife players weren't attacking other guys during the steroids era in a similar way especially because those guys were doing something that's obviously much more dangerous Much in some ways a bigger competitive advantage. I think it's because look if you're going after steroid users you can convince yourself that you're actually also going going after the guy standing next to you in the clubhouse right. This thing was kind of insinuated throughout the sport whereas here. There's a very clear target. There's a very clear other you can attack and it's astros right. I mean I think that that kind of allows players to be like forget what we might have been doing in our clubhouse as far as dealing signs that was kind of a normal operation but these guys did is worse they are now the clearly defined villain so they're going to set up an interesting dynamic immediately and for a long time to come and how about the Washington nationals world series champions and no one's checking out with Mike Rizzo that great quote of the day. We're only the world series champions with three media guys here and forty-seven or talking to the Astros. That's just the way that life goes right down bed rider. Great writer first and foremost readers work in. Sports illustrated his book Astro Ball. The new way to win it all was a couple years ago. He's now going to podcast series coming at Summer Twenty Twenty series in conjunction as well canes thirteen of part of it Ben. Thanks so much of the time man. This was really illuminating. Really enjoyed it. Thanks guys thank you Ben. All right great stuff there from Ben Writer. A Week. Come back from the show. Mike and I will talk further about this ashes situation. Plenty more to unpack certainly plus. What happened the Cleveland? Cavaliers parting ways with John. Beland and what? We can learn from that situation throughout professional sports. That's next.