By Chris Nation
In November of 2019 Mike Fiers revealed to The Athletic that the Houston Astros had been utilizing live video to steal signs and gain an advantage on opposing pitchers. He has faced some internal backlash for his decision, but was it warranted?
Mike Fiers didn’t really need justification to tell the truth. Collective motherly wisdom has always taught us that honesty is the best policy, and while tattletales are ruefully remembered, there should be little doubt that Fiers has done baseball an important service.
It took courage, likely fueled by exasperation, for Fiers to speak up. He located the casualties of the unfair fight in pitchers who would get rocked and promptly sent back down to the minor leagues. Tribal loyalties must be set aside when teams are playing with loaded dice. The cat and mouse game of stealing signs wasn’t anything new to Fiers or any pitcher, for that matter, but a coordinated system involving live feeds and the banging of trash cans? If I had a criticism of Fiers it would be that he didn’t speak up sooner.
Many have framed this story to be about the abuse of technology in baseball, and that is certainly fair, but its premise is best understood in the ethics of competition. And those ethics are compromised by groupthink and a bizarrely hallowed “loyalty” innate to most sports: this unspoken cheat code that everyone uses with varying degrees of success. Fiers shattered that faux-loyalty (I think it’s just cowardice), and in so doing very well may have shattered the video screens Hinch failed to finish off. I for one applaud him for throwing misplaced caution to the wind and letting fans reclaim a semblance of fairness in the game we love.