Tuesday, September 19, 2017

When Stealing Is Not Okay in Professional Baseball

Using an Apple watch to relay them to their team, the Red Sox stole signs from the New York Yankees and had to pay the price levied by the Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred ("MLB Punishes Red Sox with Only a Fine for Apple Watch Scandal," Boston Herald, September 15, 2017). Actually, the Yankees had a fine imposed on them, too, and all MLB teams were put on notice that use of technology to steal signs may prompt more substantive penalties in the future. Interestingly, the fines will be going to Florida's hurricane recovery fund, since the two teams play spring training games in the state. League rules prohibit "hand-held devices" during a game and employing technology to take signs, although stealing signs unaided by communication equipment is allowed. Since the investigation found that the Yankees employed a dugout phone "illegally in a 'prior championship season,'" they were assessed a smaller fine.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Professional sports teams obviously have some rules that they need to follow for fair play, but since this penalty seems mild, are they likely to try some similar tactic to steal signs in the future, even with the threat of more severe punishment for new infractions? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think players and coaches that were involved in these illegal actions feel better about not playing by the rules since the fine money is going to a good cause, namely hurricane relief? Why or why not?
  3. Do these actions by both teams hurt the team or players reputations? Or are sports teams expected to do anything to win, even if it means going against the rules? Do their fans care that they acted illegally? Why or why not?

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