Dan Naulty talks about steroid use, sexual abuse, Yankee prayer meetings

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While I’d recommend skipping the intro, the body of Tom Verducci’s latest work for Sports Illustrated is an incredible tale, that of former Twins and Yankees pitcher Dan Naulty. Among the things Naulty discusses are how steroids took him from 180 pounds to 240 and added 10 mph to his fastball, how the sexual abuse of a male coach and a female teacher affected his development and how alcoholism nearly led to him committing suicide.

Less enthralling but more baseball-related, Naulty notes the prayer meetings members of the Yankees held during the 1998 championship season. From the article:

Naulty was assigned a locker between relievers Mariano Rivera and Jason Grimsley, two of many devout Christians on the team, a group that also included Andy Pettitte, Joe Girardi, Mike Stanton and Chad Curtis. They would invite Naulty to what they called “daily devotionals,” gatherings in a dingy storage room in the bowels of Yankee Stadium to read Scripture and pray together. After a month or so, Naulty decided to join in.

… Naulty was shocked at the participants in the Yankees’ daily devotionals: star players with huge contracts. “I was just floored that people who made that much money needed God,” he says. “Why on earth would I need God when I was with the Yankees and I’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars and I’ve got whatever I want?”

… Years later, Pettitte, Stanton and Grimsley, like Naulty, were named in the Mitchell Report. “Shocked,” Naulty says. “It would obviously contradict everything we believe as Christians. That was certainly shocking.”

Go and read the whole thing when you have 15-20 minutes. It’s well worth it.

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.