Getty Images

Pirates Broadcaster: Derek Dietrich’s dead grandfather would be ashamed of him

60 Comments

Reds outfielder Derek Dietrich has absolutely crushed the Pirates this year, hitting seven home runs in nine games against them. Some of them have been absolute moon shoots and Dietrich has admired a few of them, flipped his bat and that sort of thing. One of those stand-and-stare jobs provoked a benches-clearing brawl earlier this season.

As I mentioned in the recaps the other day, the Pirates broadcast booth has been salty as all get-out about Dietrich, openly whining about him on the air. You see that from time to time. Buccos broadcaster John Wehner, however, is so disgusted with Dietrich that he’s, in my view anyway, crossed a major line in his criticism.

As Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, Wehner was on Pittsburgh radio the other morning and ripped Dietrich. See if you can spot the part that I think crossed the line:

“I can’t stand him . . . I just don’t see why – I don’t understand why you have to do that. It’s different if you’re a Hall of Fame player, you’re a 60-homer guy, you’re an established guy. Nobody ever heard of him before this year . . . I heard of him because of his grandfather (Steve Demeter) who used to be a minor league coach for the Pirates. He was the nicest, sweetest guy in the world. He’s rolling in his grave every time this guy hits a home run. He’s embarrassed of his grandson.”

I guess he could’ve done worse and said a bunch of stuff about Dietrich’s mom, but I feel like projecting your own crappy attitude on to a guy’s dead grandfather is sufficiently bad to be considered out of bounds.

But yeah, Wehner sounds lovely.

An Astros executive asked scouts to use cameras, binoculars to steal signs in 2017

Getty Images
14 Comments

The Athletic reports that an Astros executive asked scouts to spy on opponents’ dugouts in August of 2017, suggesting in an email that they use cameras or binoculars to do so.

The email, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, came from Kevin Goldstein, who is currently a special assistant for player personnel but who at the time was the director of pro scouting. In it he wrote:

“One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can’t) do and report back your findings.”

The email came during the same month that the Red Sox were found to have illegally used an Apple Watch to steal signs from the Yankees. The Red Sox were fined as a result, and it led to a clarification from Major League Baseball that sign stealing via electronic or technological means was prohibited. Early in 2019 Major League Baseball further emphasized this rule and stated that teams would receive heavy penalties, including loss of draft picks and/or bonus pool money if they were found to be in violation.

It’s an interesting question whether Goldstein’s request to scouts would fall under the same category as the Apple Watch stuff or other technology-based sign-stealing schemes. On the one hand, the email certainly asked scouts to use cameras and binoculars to get a look at opposing signs. On the other hand, it does not appear that it was part of a sign-relaying scheme or that it was to be used in real time. Rather, it seems aimed at information gathering for later use. The Athletic suggests that using eyes or binoculars would be considered acceptable in 2017 but that cameras would not be. The Athletic spoke to scouts and other front office people who all think that asking scouts to use a camera would “be over the line” or would constitute “cheating.”

Of course, given how vague, until very recently Major League Baseball’s rules have been about this — it’s long been governed by the so-called “unwritten rules” and convention, only recently becoming a matter of official sanction — it’s not at all clear how the league might consider it. It’s certainly part and parcel of an overarching sign-stealing culture in baseball which we are learning has moved far, far past players simply looking on from second base to try to steal signs, which has always been considered a simple matter of gamesmanship. Now, it appears, it is organizationally-driven, with baseball operations, scouting and audio-visual people being involved. The view on all of this has changed given how sophisticated and wide-ranging an operation modern sign-stealing appears to be. Major League Baseball was particularly concerned, at the time the Red Sox were punished for the Apple Watch stuff, that it involved management and front office personnel.

Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein’s email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout’s Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts. Some voiced concern to management. Today that email has new life, emerging as it does in the wake of last week’s revelations about the Astros’ sign-stealing schemes.

This is quickly becoming the biggest story of the offseason.