Every fan of baseball knows the story. After having been acquitted of taking bribes to throw the 1919 World Series involving the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds, a young baseball fan is reported to have said to Shoeless Joe Jackson “Say It Ain’t So, Joe.” Jackson’s response is said to have been “It’s so. It’s so.”
Today I am that kid. My hometown heroes, the Houston Astros, the team I have followed since their inception (and even before, when they were the Colt 45s) stand guilty of cheating in one of the biggest Major League Baseball scandals since 1919. For multiple seasons, the Astros employed an electronic system to steal catcher’s signs, transmit them to the Astros dugout where they were interpreted. This information was then communicated to Astros batters, in a decidedly old school manner of banging a baseball bat on a trashcan. Say It Ain’t So
But I am having a tough time sorting out how I feel. As the adult Compliance Evangelist, I know how I should feel. I should be disgusted, dismayed and repulsed as you have to wonder how much of the Astros magical ride to the 2017 World Series championship was predicated on this cheating. While a part of me can rationalize that the signal-stealing improved overall team batting average by a miniscule amount, that the Astros could not employ the communication of the signal portion of the cheating scheme during the World Series because MinuteMaid Park was rocking and rolling so loudly, or that the Astros won Game 7 against the LA Dodgers at the Dodger Stadium where they could not have used the entire sign-stealing system; the bottom line is that the Astros cheated and in cheating, as Jose Mourinho once said, they changed “the truth of the game.” But I am still that kid too. Say It Ain’t So
I could say the Astros paid one of the highest prices for cheating any pro sports team has ever paid; a $5 million fine, loss of first and second round draft picks, a suspended (and now fired) GM and Manager, so they have paid the price and that price is enough. But for all the joy I felt when the Astros won, I have a good friend who was feeling as downtrodden as I was elated, and that friend is Adam Turteltaub. Adam was at Game 7 and we were tweeting throughout the Game. As the Astros pulled ahead decisively, I could feel the pain in Adam’s tweet. Was the cheating scandal fair to him or to any other Dodger fan? Say It Ain’t So
It’s so. It’s so.