No one with a modicum of intellgence ever suggested the 2017-18 Astros were baseball’s only high-tech off-field-based sign-stealing cheaters. They were just the most sophisticated, top-down, and apologetically unapologetic of the known lot. Not to mention that they either altered a real-time-delay center field camera or installed a second non-delayed one to make their Astro Intelligence Agency work.
Now, former Brewers reserve catcher Eric Kratz has pointed a flying fickle finger of fate at the Rockies. The Rockies, who’ve seen enough of their best players leave for greener pastures administered by less brain-damaged administrations. The Rockies, now accused of being some of baseball’s more inept cheaters.
A couple of days ago, Kratz told the YES Network’s Curtain Call podcast (Kratz also did time with the Yankees, who own the YES Network) the Brewers caught the Rockies banging to relay signs stolen “from a television” in 2018. What were the Rockies banging? Kratz said it was—wait for it—a massage therapy gun.
“I can tell you that a team that has been to the World Series, often, recently, we caught them doing something almost similar,” said Kratz to Curtain Call hosts John J. Filipelli and Kevin Sullivan. Kratz didn’t specify that team, but then he dropped the quarters on the Rockies.
And I can also tell you, because I don’t really care, I don’t know anybody over there, the Colorado Rockies were doing the exact same thing in 2018, and we caught them, and we played them in the playoffs. You know how many runs they scored in a three-game playoff series in 2018? Not many people watched the NLDS. They scored two runs in the ninth inning of Game 2. They used to take a Theragun and bang it on their metal bench. And they were doing the exact same thing, from the TV.
So, there you go. If you think no one else was doing it, you are wrong. The difference is, the Astros may have taken it a little too far. Maybe a little bit too far. Maybe continued to do it. Or maybe it’s just the fact that they won the World Series and everybody’s pissed about that.
Take careful note of all Kratz’s phrasings. “From the TV” can mean the Brewers caught onto the Rockies likely trying to steal signs the same way the Red Sox were caught doing the same year: deciphering signs from the video replay rooms provided to home and road teams in all major league ballparks, then relaying them forward.
The 2018 Rogue Sox relayed them by hand signs to baserunners to send to the batters. It was a slightly more sophisticated version of the kind of gamesmanship played on the basepaths for over a century. Unlike the Astros, they didn’t install a new camera somewhere in Fenway Park to set up a new underground television network.
Nobody’s yet accused the Rockies of fostering the kind of win-at-all-costs culture that came top down from the former Jeff Luhnow administration in Houston. There, what began as a conscious front-office effort to apply elaborate algorithims on behalf of sign-stealing continued with the development of the AIA Network, the altered/installed camera to the clubhouse monitors to the trash can bangs sending the stolen signs forward.
If you think that inspired rounds and rounds of can gags and signs since, what would the Rockies’ Theragun ineptitude inspire? “If Theraguns are Outlawed, Will Only Outlaws Have Theraguns?”
Kratz has a further point. If the 2018 Rockies really were using that massage gun for such a sign-stealing variant, it didn’t bring them a happy ending. They finished tied with the Dodgers for the National League West but lost a single-game playoff for the title, and the Brewers rousted the Rockies out three straight in the division series to follow.
Kratz mis-remembered the Rockies scoring in the set, though: they scored two in the Game One ninth (on an RBI single and a sacrifice fly) to tie the game at two, before the Brewers won in the tenth inning. Then the Brewers shut them out despite allowing them ten hits over Games Two and Three; the Rockies went 4-for-19 with men in scoring position without a single cash-in in those games.
If the Brewers caught the Rockies stealing signs in that division series, they’d caught one of the most inept bands of bandits since the wiseguys Jimmy Breslin satirised in The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. It’s almost not even worth calling the Rockies to account.
Break into a bank with larceny on your mind, come away with nothing because you and/or your confederates didn’t have a clue about how to dismantle the alarms and decipher the vault’s combinations.You’re still going to face federal charges when you get caught red-handed and flat-footed. Even if you have la policia laughing their fool heads off because they’d just busted Our Gang, not the James Gang.
Just because the Rockies got slapped out of the 2018 postseason fast enough to equal a blink, just because they were the apparent Maxwell Smarts of sign-stealing, it doesn’t make them any less guilty if Kratz is right. The Rockies being petty criminals doesn’t acquit or mitigate the Astros’ grand theft felonies, either. Neither did the 2018 Rogue Sox.
You might not have been the only high-tech cheaters on the block, but you’re not off the hook just because they weren’t as sophisticated or successful as you. Especially when your gang might yet have won a World Series because of it.