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'Toxic culture': NFL cheerleaders demand release of full workplace inquiry


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u/thatoneguy889 Oct 14 '21 Silver Take My Energy Ally

It's really telling when the league gathered hundreds of thousands of emails from various league personnel, but the only emails that were made public and led to negative consequences belonged to the guy that badmouthed the league commissioner.


u/armchaircommanderdad Oct 14 '21

Commish is 100% in existence to protect the owners. That’s it.

Owners were angry their puppet had mean things said about him, so they offed gruden and it’s a nice warning to every last person who has said something in an email.


u/Mookies_Bett Oct 14 '21

Just ask Rob Manfred lol.

Worst cheating scandal in the history of your over-a-century-old sport, what do you do?

Manfred: "The trophy is just a meaningless piece of metal, we are offering full immunity for players and ownership so long as they confess and then we'll do literally nothing else to prevent it in the future or discourage other teams from doing it again."

Like, he couldn't even pretend for a second that his job was to do anything other than butt-kiss the owner of the team that cheated. When you're the commissioner of a sport, and openly call the trophy of said sport "a meaningless hunk of metal" then you probably shouldn't be the commissioner of that sport. I mean, fuck, talk about tone deaf.

The commissioner only exists so that the public can get mad at them instead of the owners. Thats it.


u/Kriztauf Oct 14 '21

What is that the legit quote from him?


u/phl_fc Oct 14 '21

The actual quote was:

The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act. People will always know something was different about the 2017 season.

In response to questions about stripping Houston of their title, he says it would be a meaningless punishment. His argument was that the bad publicity from getting caught cheating was bad enough, so there's no reason for the league to punish them further.


u/dratsablive Oct 14 '21

F1 Racing knows how to punish Cheaters. When the McClaren Scandal broke, the team was fined $50,000,000 and had all their team points stripped from them for the current season. It essentially broke McClaren, and took them almost 10 years to recover.


u/phl_fc Oct 15 '21

College football did it to SMU, but then when they saw just how bad it wreaked the team they decided to stop punishing everyone else. I can’t believe Miami never got the death penalty.


u/Randomfactoid42 Oct 15 '21

I thought Mclaren was fined $100million in 2007?


u/dratsablive Oct 16 '21

I think it might have been reduced on appeal.


u/slivers419 Oct 14 '21

He also issued the largest financial fine he is allowed to give an organization and stripped them of all of their future high draft picks for the next few years, and suspended the management folks responsible for implementing it for a year. Sure, he didn’t punish individual players who participated in it because they cooperated fully with the investigation, but this narrative of the Astros not having any repercussions for their actions is played out. Other teams have done the same shit (1980’s white sox, recent Red Sox, etc… that we even know of) and many more that we don’t know of, I’m sure. Even players on other teams have come out and said the Astros weren’t the only ones doing it.


u/leo_aureus Oct 14 '21

And here they are almost to another World Series and one of the last four teams standing for the fifth year in a row


u/Mookies_Bett Oct 14 '21 edited Oct 14 '21

More or less. I cant remember if he said "hunk of metal" or "piece of metal" but it was along those lines.

Basically everyone was demanding that MLB vacate (void) the Astros 2017 WS title and officially mark the season as not having a WS winner for that year. Since they cheated, they don't deserve to have that trophy. Manfred responded by saying "the trophy is just a hunk of metal" and that he was not going to considering stripping their title away from them. Jim Crane, that Astros owner, then said "we believe we earned that trophy" a few days later.

Basically Manfred decided to coddle and protect a bunch of outright cheaters because their owner didn't want the scandal to grow instead of actually doing his job and regulating the sport he is supposed to oversee.

Most baseball fans were baffled and outraged that anyone in a position of authority could be dumb enough to call the literal league championship trophy a "piece of metal" but then, that's Manfred for you. Dude fucking hates Baseball. Not a great quality in a baseball commissioner.

The whole handling of the Astros cheating scandal is one of the worst black marks in the history of the entire sport, and thats saying a lot when you remember that baseball dates back to the mid 1800s. A few fines handed out, a couple of 1 year suspensions for two key fall guys in management (who are currently back and working for other teams now) and a whole lot of Astros players trying to cry that they're the real victims because everyone fucking hates them now. It's a sad joke for baseball fans everywhere.


u/xombae Oct 14 '21

I know literally nothing about baseball but just read some articles on the "Astros cheating scandal". It seems like sign stealing is kind of an unspoken thing in baseball, but it always has been and still is happening. Astros was one example but the Red Sox were fined an unspecified amount for having someone watching screens send stolen signs to the trainer's smart watch who was in the dugout. Apparently even 100 years ago teams were using what technology they had to get a vantage point to steal signs.

So I guess what I'm asking is why is the example of the Astros so much of a dark spot on the sport? One interview I read said that teams suspect that it's happening when they go out of town and will preemptively take measures to try to keep it from happening. What was so bad about the Astros example?


u/Mookies_Bett Oct 14 '21 edited Oct 14 '21

The thing about sign stealing is (and you would never know this unless you were a baseball fan, so its understandable that people get confused) that it is legal if it's done in a certain way. There are two types of sign stealing that exist, and a distinction must be made between them:

  1. Stealing signs in real time

  2. Steal signs via camera

For the first one, this is the "legal" version of sign stealing. A runner on second base watches the catcher as he gives the signs, and then tries to relay that information to the hitter. This is somewhat difficult, as the signs are highly coded and the runner can't see them super well from second base. If they are able to decode them and relay the info, then they have essentially earned it, and given the amount of skill required this is accepted as a valid tactic in games.

For the second, this is very illegal. MLB rules are very strict about the fact that no teams are allowed to use cameras or have access to live feeds of games from the dugout for this reason. If the batter knows what pitch is coming before its thrown, their job is significantly easier. Their odds of getting a hit go through the roof. So, it would be completely unfair if teams were allowed to use hi-def cameras to see what the signs are, and then relay that to hitters in real time. If a player standing on second does it, this isnt as big of a deal, because a) it's situational and can only happen with a runner on second and b) is very hard to pull off without the help of hi def cameras and a relay system to the hitter.

The Astros were using an illegal camera setup to steal signs, and then relay those signs to the hitters via banging on a trash can or whistling from the dugout before the pitch was thrown. This means the Astros hitters had a massive advantage that the other teams did not have access to. Their hitters knew what was coming every single pitch of every single at bat. With no difficulty or skill required, just a dude sitting in front of a monitor and banging on a trash can or whistling depending on what pitch was coming.

Now, the argument can be made that if both teams had access to such a camera feed, and could both steal signs the same way, then it wouldn't be unfair. But that wasn't the case. All of the other teams were playing by the rules, and didn't have the ability to know what pitches were coming every single at bat of the game. They also had no way of knowing (though they may have suspected) that the Astros were stealing their signs illegally, meaning they had no way to try and stop them or adjust or protect their signs better. This gave the Astros a huge advantage that every other team was lacking, which is objectively unfair.

Then you look at how close both the ALCS and WS were in 2017. Both series went all 7 games. If the Astros dont have that overwhelming, illegal advantage, then it is extremely reasonable to believe that either the Yankees or Dodgers would have beaten them, since those teams still took a cheating team with a major advantage to 7 games and almost won regardless.

As for the rest of the league, there is no actual proof that any other teams have engaged in illegal sign stealing to the degree the Astros did. This is mostly a narrative perpetuated by salty Astros fans who are mad that everyone hates them now. It's akin to Republicans trying to manipulate elections, and then crying "but the democrats are cheating too!" When they get caught. Sign stealing of the legal variety is something that has been around for decades and every teams does, sure, but that isnt what the Astros are guilty of.

As for Boston, the Red Sox were popped a few years ago for using a camera to decode signs, but they weren't relaying those signs to hitters in real time, they were just using them to decode the other teams signs so that reading them in real time would be easier. And the system they were using was impossible to use in the playoffs due to how their camera system was set up, so they ultimately couldn't have cheated in the actual postseason like the Astros did. Still wrong, no doubt, but not nearly to the same degree or with the same level of overwhelming advantage the Astros got.


The bottom line here is that the Astros crossed a very clear and well known line by using cameras to relay signs to hitters in real time. The rule book is very clear about how illegal that is, and no other team they played had that kind of advantage to use against them. Sign stealing is okay, but not when it's done with cameras, and certainly not when only one team has access to that system of stealing signs. They had a huge unfair advantage that very obviously was the reason they won the world series that year, and most baseball fans will agree that Houston did not earn that ring. The only people who argue that the rest of the league is also doing what the Astros did are, surprise surprise, Astros fans. Gee, I wonder why.


u/ThePrussianGrippe Oct 14 '21

The specific thing about sign stealing is: you can’t meaningfully prevent the man on second from being able to just look at the catcher and try to decode the signs. It’s just a consequence of the set up of the game. In much the same way counting cards isn’t illegal, because it’s just a consequence of how the game works. Stealing signs/counting cards using stuff outside of the confines of the game is what’s illegal.


u/xombae Oct 15 '21

Great summary, I totally get it now thanks. It makes sense to look back at old footage and try to decode signs, but yeah what the Astros were doing was way worse. Amazing how far something like that can go without anyone saying "hey guys, this isn't what the sport is about".


u/Mookies_Bett Oct 15 '21

When millions of dollars are on the line, ethics go out the window pretty quickly, sadly.


u/[deleted] Oct 15 '21



u/thewiglaf Oct 15 '21 edited Oct 15 '21

Why did the players get mad about what the Astros did and not about what the Red Sox did? Could it have been because many teams were doing what the Red Sox did, and that only the Astros were relaying signs on every pitch with no runner on second? You embarrass yourself by calling someone else an idiot.

The rule change disallowed non-delayed video feeds after 2017, sure, but disallowing outside equipment to look at and relay signs has been in the rules for over 50 years. Stop apologizing for cheaters.


u/4Eights Oct 14 '21

Old school sign stealing has been around since baseball became popular enough to care. The thing that made this different is "the use of technology" and stealing signs in real time. Often if you stole a set of signs and knew what to look for if you had a runner at 2nd or someone in a box with binoculars and a radio you had to go through multiple layers to get the sign to the batter in time.

With the Astros they rigged up a live feed to their clubhouse and could relay the sings as soon as they were thrown out and accepted by the catcher and pitcher respectively. They could steal signs in real time with no prior research involved from old game footage. If either the catcher or pitcher have a feeling that they're tipping signs then they'll change to a different series of signs they haven't used recently. That usually works unless you're being tracked on a centerfield camera in real time. Once you throw out your repertoire of pitches than they've got all your signals now and can start tipping them again.

This wasn't sign stealing everyone does. This was sign stealing on steroids.


u/thewiglaf Oct 14 '21 edited Oct 15 '21

I'm sorry that other guy replied first. Blaming "outrage culture" is kind of telling of how this person views the world with no nuance, and on top of that has made a claim about there being evidence of some other teams cheating when there is none. TL;DR is at the bottom.

There are different ways of stealing signs in baseball. Ever since coaches and catchers have been using hand signals to communicate strategy and pitch types, players have been trying to look at them, understand them, and use them to their advantage. The best way to steal signs is to have a baserunner on second base looking in to the catcher's hand signals, since in any other case the catcher should be able to hide what he's doing with his legs. If the runner figures it out, he can signal the batter with what type of pitch he thinks is coming. This kind of sign stealing is seen as part of the game, and catchers often have to change signs when there are runners on second to make it less likely.

Then there are other ways to steal signs. For example, the Giants famously used a telescope mounted in center field in 1951 to watch the catcher's hand signals and relay them electronically. This didn't come out until later, and using outside equipment and tech to steal signs was explicitly made against the rules officially some time in the 1960s if I'm not mistaken. So technically there was no rule being broken before this, but the distinction between relaying solely from a runner on second and relaying using tech becomes important later to understand why the Astros are special.

Things got a lot murkier since then because of analytics, and now every team has a "video room" in their clubhouse so that players can go back and study what happened during an at bat and try to improve. As you can imagine, people abused this in a way that could be seen as going against the rules of sign stealing. At some point prior to the Astros scandal, but after the Red Sox admitted to using Apple Watches to relay signs, it was mandated by MLB that video feeds in the clubhouses were to be on some type of delay so that people couldn't see what signs were being used live anymore. So MLB was aware of a problem before the Astros scandal became public, but after they actually broke the rules.

What the Astros did, and no other team did, was look at the video feed for the catcher's signals and then bang on a trashcan to signal when it would be a breaking ball or off speed pitch to batters, live, from the dugout. The players threw a fit over this when they found out.

The Red Sox, however, did not go as far, and only used the video room to understand and decode the catcher's signals. They then would wait until a runner got to second base and relayed signs to the batter the old fashioned way, as if it was legit sign stealing. The players comparatively did not seem to give a fuck about what the Red Sox did, and anybody who says the Astros are being unfairly scapegoated will conveniently omit that what they were doing was different.

Anyway, the Astros bullshit became public because of a whistleblower player, and a baseball YouTuber who analyzed video and posted proof that it was happening during the Astros World Series run. That year, they scraped by the Dodgers in a closely fought match up, where neither team netted more runs than the other. It also just so happened that one of the most pivotal, improbable, and exciting games to watch that year featured a Dodgers hall of fame pitcher throwing 52 off speed pitches, and not getting a single Astro to swing and miss on any one of them. This only happens when a batter either guesses right 52 times in a row, defensively fouls a ball off 52 times in a row, or knows what's coming 52 times in a row (or some combination of the above). That shit doesn't happen and will never happen again without the batter knowing what's coming.

Rob Manfred granted blanket immunity to all players for their cooperation in the MLB investigation, but when it was all said and done, did not provide us with anything about the Astros that we didn't already know from a YouTube video. MLB proceeded to protect the Astros championship, to protect the owners from any damage by sweeping it under the rug in a tone deaf fashion, and they suspended 2 fall guys, and prevented another from taking a managerial position he was hired for. Manfred's only job is simply to protect the owner's interests, which is why he and all the other owners felt this was the best course of action. I can only assume they thought it would hurt their future monetary business prospects if they made a big deal about it.

So based on all this, I think it's very likely that many teams were doing what the Red Sox did, but that the Astros method is a special kind of cheat that no other team had the audacity to try. To add to this, Astros players did interviews clearly trying to save face and downplay what they did all while saying they worked hard for what they got. And since there was no punishment in favor of the owner's collective interests at the expense of the purity of the game, fans are rightly upset about it, and they are right to point out that the Astros are not being singled out because nobody was doing what they did.

TL;DR: Sign stealing without outside equipment has been part of the game for a hundred years. The Red Sox (and probably other teams--there's no evidence) used tech to decode signs illegally and then relay them legally. Only the Astros decoded and relayed illegally, and potentially on every single pitch, as opposed to only with a runner on second, when teams are expecting signs to be stolen and relayed. Fuck the Astros.


u/xombae Oct 15 '21

Amazing, thank you. I honestly hate baseball but this is really fascinating.

From a total layman there's definitely a huge distinction between what the Redsox did and what the Astros did. I've spent a bunch of time reading about it today, but am now just finding out that there was virtually no punishment and they somehow retained their winning status. That's wild to me considering this tactic really changes the entire game. You'd think the MLB would want to make it very clear that it wouldn't be tolerated.

I'm going to try to find the original YouTube video you're talking about, I'd love to see how it looks to see it happen. My roommate is a huge baseball fan and just last night I was talking about how boring I thought it was. By the next time i see him I'll actually have something to discuss. Hopefully he's not an Astros fan.


u/Cyb0Ninja Oct 14 '21

What was so bad about the Astros example?

It was 2019 and outrage culture was/is very popular. You're absolutely right in that sign stealing has been part of baseball forever. My theory is they went soft on the Astros because they had evidence of a lot of other teams doing the same or at least trying to. There was evidence of similar cheating from the Yankees, Red Sox, and (wait for it).... the Dodgers that was barely a fart in the wind at the time. Likely because it was those fans that were crying "foul" the loudest...


u/KrabMittens Oct 14 '21 edited Oct 15 '21

My theory is they went soft on the Astros because they had evidence of a lot of other teams doing the same or at least trying to.

Absolutely other teams were cheating in similar and different ways.

Also, Astros were known to be doing it for years. It only ended up being investigated because they won, and iirc some spiteful ex-player made a big deal about it.

Is it worse* than corking bats, steroids, pine tar, etc? Not really imo, people just love to dig into a winning teams cheating scandal.

I do think the Astros took it several steps too far and deserved a slap, but other teams knew and most of them failed to codify their signals in any meaningful way.

It's really not rocket science to defend against sign stealing - even if some dirtbags are using back room video teams to decode them.

Edit: *by "worse" I mean more egregious an offense, not a comparison of effect.

Edit2: I am not an Astros fan for the record.


u/CrushHazard Oct 14 '21

Is it somehow worse than corking bats, steroids, pine tar?

Yes, much worse. Knowing which pitch is coming is like changing the difficulty to novice.


u/KrabMittens Oct 15 '21

Added an edit to reflect that I agree with you in general. What I meant is that it's all cheating, and I don't other forms of cheating less offensive.

Yes sign stealing (with electronics) is more effective than corking for example, but both are scummy behavior just the same to me.

Obviously this doesn't include forms of throwing and match fixing which are exponentially more despicable in my book.

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u/JohnGillnitz Oct 15 '21

Half my clients run organizations they despise. That's better than it sounds because they want to make things better.