You’re right: The Astros’ sign-stealing is against the rules, so I shouldn’t celebrate it

first_imgI need to clear something up: I don’t endorse cheating. But I understand why you think that I do. That’s because I wrote something silly that ended up hijacking a greater point that I was trying to make. In other words, I screwed up.During the ALCS, I wrote about the accusation that the Astros steal signs, and posited that sign-stealing is fine, even if a team uses technology to do it. In the column, I acknowledged that tech-assisted sign-stealing is against baseball’s rules, but argued that it shouldn’t be. I said the same in a tweet re-sharing the column Tuesday, after a report from The Athletic revealed compelling evidence that the Astros engaged in high-tech sign-stealing in their 2017 world championship season. And that’s when things went a little haywire at Twitter dot com. Most people who threw tweet bombs my way didn’t mind that I want the sign-stealing rules changed, which is the point I was trying to make. Judging by the engagement on Tuesday’s tweet, I’m not alone in the thought. There has to be room for spirited debate on something like this. We don’t all have to agree. But if I’m going to persuade you, if I want to be taken seriously, then I shouldn’t do anything to distract from my argument. Unfortunately, that’s what happened here. And you’re right: I needed to be better.Some might say I’m giving in to the Twitter trolls. Not really. I believe in righting mistakes, big or small. When I mess up, I try to own it. I’ll never apologize for an opinion, but if the presentation hurts the argument, regardless of whether it was unintentional, then I need to reassess. I always hope to be thoughtful when I offer a take on anything, especially on something that might be controversial. But, unfortunately, I don’t bat 1.000. I’ll be more discriminating in my language and my execution next time, and hopefully avoid another whiff. In the tweet, I said high-tech sign-stealing “shouldn’t be considered illegal or unethical.” That was riffing off a line from the original column, where I said that using technology to gain every advantage shouldn’t be considered dishonest or unethical, but smart and savvy. I praised the Astros for doing that, basically because I disagree with the rule against using technology to steal signs. But, obviously, it is illegal in baseball’s eyes and, therefore, unethical. I should’ve thought more carefully about my wording — in the column, yes, but especially in Tuesday’s tweet — as the takeaway for many was, essentially, “Breaking the rules is OK as long as you disagree with the rules.” FAGAN: Kudos to Mike Fiers for going on-record about Astros’ cheatingI admit that such a takeaway is accurate, but that was not my intent. Yes, as a professional writer, I should be able to get my point across clearly and without confusion. But in this case, I didn’t. I was a less-than-stellar communicator. Twitter seized on it and, as Twitter does, dragged me with all of the platform’s favorite insults.So here’s a brief clarification/mea culpa: I still think using technology to steal signs should be legal, with limits. My position remains that if the Astros or any other team is stealing your signs, then you need better signs. Technology use is only going to increase across baseball — it already has, with the use of iPads in the dugout as one example — and technology should be used to gain every edge possible. That includes using it to steal signs, and using it to prevent your signs from being stolen. The concept itself doesn’t strike me as morally wrong, especially in the context of an increasingly tech-driven world.However, as long as tech-driven sign-stealing is against the rules in all forms, I won’t encourage it or celebrate it. I don’t celebrate when people blatantly break rules in other parts of life, so I won’t do it here either. I’m guilty of hypocrisy, and even though sports are entertainment and not ultimately all that important, consistency is important. I’m sorry for being inconsistent. last_img

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