So which cap does Dawson wear on his plaque?

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Dawson Red Sox.jpgUPDATE:  Still read the discussion below because it applies to other players too, but for the record, a few minutes ago MLB.com’s Hal Bodley walked into the Waldorf Astoria ballroom where they’ll have Andre Dawson’s press conference later today and noticed that they have a big portrait of him in an Expos uniform set up.  I’m guessing that’s the Hall’s way of saying what cap he’s gonna have on the plaque.

I ask because MLB.com has a story asking it.  To be honest, though, it seems pretty obvious.

Dawson played 1443 games in Montreal, 867 in Chicago, 121 in Florida and 196 in Boston.  I think we can eliminate Boston and Florida from the conversation, right?  That leaves the Expos and Cubs.

While his OPS and other rate stats are a hair higher in Chicago, he was a gold glove centerfielder for the Expos and a rightfielder for the Cubs (yes, he won two gold gloves for the Cubs too, but how much of that was inertia?).  His MVP came for the Cubs, but he had much, much more aggregate value in an Expos uniform.

Dawson, of course, left Montreal on fairly acrimonious terms, and is on record as saying that he would prefer a Cubs or even a Marlins cap who gave him a chance to play a bit longer, to adorn his plaque. That’s not his choice to make, however.  The players had the choice of what cap they’d wear until 2001.  At that point the Hall made the wise decision to take that choice away from them.  I say wise, because ultimately the Hall of Fame is a museum, and it’s a museum’s job to reflect history, not honor the personal preferences of the honoree.

Which doesn’t mean that more games or more aggregate value always trumps. Reggie Jackson was a better player for a greater number of years with the Athletics than the Yankees, yet he wears a Yankees cap on his plaque. I have no problem with this because, really, when his tale is being told, his exploits with the Yankees are the center of the story. Nolan Ryan has a Rangers cap. Sure, it’s subjective, but it just feels right, doesn’t it? And feel matters. How whack does the pic to the right of this post look? Do we really want history looking like that?

By the same token, Andre Dawson feels like an Expo and, in my mind at least, his plaque has to have an Expos cap.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.