In every sport, players and coaches are willing to push the envelope in order to win. While it’s easy to focus on the NFL’s New England Patriots as the pinnacle of the dark arts, Major League Baseball is in the midst of its own sign-stealing scandal. Former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose, however, has an idea to fix that problem.
For all of Rose’s personal and professional issues, he still knows a great deal about the game of baseball. His proposal to stop sign-stealing, however, is a bit unconventional.
Major League Baseball’s current sign-stealing scandals
Stealing signs occupies somewhat of a moral gray area. While there’s nothing wrong with observing the other team and manually figuring out their signals, using technology to observe your opposition is generally frowned upon. The Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox both reportedly crossed that line.
According to The Athletic, the Astros used a camera placed in center field to observe the opposing catcher’s signals. That video feed ran into the team’s clubhouse tunnel, where a staffer was watching on a monitor; when a specific pitch was on the way, someone would bang on a trash can to alert the batter.
While the Red Sox used a slightly different technique, they also relied on video feeds to gain an advantage. The Athletic once again broke the story, reporting that the club used the replay room to decipher the catcher’s signals; information was passed from the replay room to the baserunners, who would then tell the batters what pitch was on the way.
How would Pete Rose stop sign-stealing?
Pete Rose may have gotten in trouble with Major League Baseball by betting on his own team, but there’s one line he insists that he never crossed: stealing signs.
Rose explained that he was afraid of receiving misinformation from his own teammates. “He might not have the signs, he might tell you wrong,” Rose told TMZ Sports. “Now, if you’re looking for a low-and-away breaking ball, and the guy throws an up-and-in fastball, you just got one off the kisser.”
While Charlie Hustle might not have used stolen signs and insists that current scandals are no big deal, he still has an idea for preventing cheating at home plate. The players, he insists, should take matters into their own hands.
“Just throw one right at his head, and he’ll get away from stealing signs,” Rose said. “You police your own area. Baseball players have knowledge on how to police the area when it needs to be policed.”
How can we prevent sign-stealing (without listening to Pete Rose)?
Obviously, Pete Rose’s proposal isn’t the answer. Throwing at someone’s head is incredibly dangerous, and, no matter how egregious you feel your opponent’s behavior is, hurting them isn’t acceptable.
According to Tom Verducci, the league is considering two options; thankfully, neither of them includes violence. One potential solution, which has previously been floated by Joe Girardi, would give pitchers and catchers headsets or earpieces, similar to NFL coaches and quarterbacks. If the two are communicating verbally, rather than with hand signals, the isn’t anything for the opposition to observe. Major League is also reportedly considering tightening the rules around video rooms and restricting their in-game feeds to replays. If nothing else, harshly penalizing sign-stealing should make other teams think twice.
No matter what happens, though, throwing at the batter’s head isn’t the answer, even if Pete Rose suggested it.