Mike Fiers deserves no praise for revealing the Astros sign stealing scheme.
For the first time since going on the record with The Athletic, former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers was going to address the media on Friday afternoon. All indications were he was going to talk about the sign stealing scandal and answer questions from reporters about it. And then he didn’t.
Now why would Fiers get in front of the media to talk about the scandal and then not talk about it? Perhaps MLB doesn’t want him to, but if that’s the case, he shouldn’t have said he was going to talk about it. In reality, the guy just wanted an audience.
He didn’t have anything substantive to say, of course, but that’s not much of a surprise. He’s been portrayed as a principled hero for revealing the Astros’ nefarious sign stealing scheme, but his motivations in doing so are far from pure.
Why might Fiers be upset with the Astros? I mean, he threw a no-hitter in a Houston uniform and got a World Series ring. But he was also left off the postseason rosters in 2017 after working to a 5.22 ERA in the regular season. He was then non-tendered following the season.
Any reasonable player would know that’s just business. It’s how the game works. But Fiers had even more reason to be sore, and I think this is really the main reason he threw the club under the bus. He made five starts against the Astros in 2019 and was simply awful.
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In 23 innings, Fiers was shelled for 24 earned runs on 32 hits and 12 homers. Those are by far the most he gave up against any team last year. If he’d pitched well against the Astros, I rather doubt he would have gone on the record to reveal their sign stealing scheme. He couldn’t quiet their bats on the field so he publicly accused them of cheating.
Why else would he have waited until after the 2019 season to say something? If he had such a moral issue with the sign stealing, why didn’t he say anything back in 2017 when it was going on? He wanted that ring, of course. Then the Astros cut him and subsequently torched him on the field, so he got his revenge.
The interesting part of that is MLB’s investigation cleared the team of any wrongdoing in 2019, much to Fiers’ disappointment I’m sure. Turns out the team just has his number.
Far From the Only Ones
Now to be fair, I’m not condoning the Astros sign stealing scheme. It was wrong for them use cameras to steal signs, just as it’s wrong for any team to do so. But the people acting like the scheme was the epitome of evil are blinded by their enjoyment of the Astros being branded as cheaters.
The Astros are not the first to use technology to steal signs, and many people would be surprised just how pervasive the practice has been across the game. I guarantee if the lid were blown off the entire thing, most teams will be found to have done it in some form or fashion. The league has just essentially looked the other way, much like it did during the steroid era.
We’re already hearing of other instances, and I’m not just talking about the Red Sox under Alex Cora. Tony LaRussa has been accused of doing it in the 1980s with the White Sox, and an unnamed successful National League team apparently did it in 2010.
The idea to use cameras to steal signs didn’t originate with the Astros in 2017, and anyone who thinks it did is only kidding themselves. It’s been going on longer than anyone wants to admit. It just happened that the Astros were the club to be outed for it publicly, and all because of one disgruntled former player.
Fiers’ teammates in Oakland may have his back, mainly because his revelation supposedly harmed their division rival. If it gives the A’s a better chance of winning the division or making the playoffs, they’re probably okay with it. But Fiers’ former teammates and others around the game definitely don’t feel the same.
Dallas Keuchel has already voiced his opinion on it, and Carlos Correa alluded to a similar feeling. What goes on in the locker room is supposed to stay private among the team, and one person broadcasting things like this is not going to go over well with the rest of the guys. Even non-Astros like Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez think Fiers is a snitch.
Because of him, four people lost their jobs and the current Astros hitters have been branded with scarlet letters. Other baseball fans, many of whose teams are just as guilty, see the Astros as a dirty organization that should be stripped of its 2017 championship.
In reality, they’re no worse than any other club. The only difference is they employed a rat, and after they got rid of him, they gave him a reason to want to take them down.