Add Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martínez to the list of people criticizing former Astro Mike Fiers, who told The Athletic last year about the Astros’ sign-stealing and relay scheme that helped them win the 2017 World Series.
Per WEEI, Martínez said of Fiers, “If he was to do it when he was playing for the Houston Astros I would say Mike Fiers has guts. But to go and do it after you leave the Houston Astros because they don’t have you anymore, that doesn’t show me anything. You’re just a bad teammate.”
Martínez continued, “If you tell me that Mike Fiers is coming to my team and you already threw your team under the bus, the team that you used to play for … Now everybody knows you are going to have a whistle-blower in any other situation too. Whatever happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse and Fiers broke the rules. I agree with cleaning up the game. I agree that the fact that the Commissioner is taking a hard hand on this, but at the same time players should not be the one dropping the whistle-blower.”
Finally, Martínez said, “If you have integrity you find ways to tell everybody in the clubhouse, ‘Hey, we might get in trouble for this. I don’t want to be part of this.’ You call your GM. You tell him. Or you call anybody you can or MLB or someone and say, ‘I don’t want to be part of this.’ Or you tell the team, ‘Get me out of here, I don’t want to be part of this.’ Then you show me something. But if you leave Houston and most likely you didn’t agree with Houston when you left and then you go and drop the entire team under the bus I don’t trust you. I won’t trust you because did have that rule.”
As mentioned when ESPN-commentator-slash-Mets-advisor Jessica Mendoza similarly criticized Fiers, his spilling of the beans to The Athletic wasn’t the first the league had heard of the Astros’ cheating ways. It was only when Fiers lent his name to vouch for The Athletic’s report that the league was forced to act. There was and still is no system by which a player or group of players can handle a situation of this magnitude quietly in-house. The scheme was described in the report as “player-driven,” but the coaching staff tacitly endorsed the cheating by doing nothing of consequence to stop the players. Fiers was dwarfed both in number and in rank. Let’s not forget that then-GM Jeff Luhnow had brought aboard consultants from McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm with questionable ethical judgment and a quick trigger finger on firing employees. Fiers was also the odd man out ideologically.
The Astros were rotten from the bottom to the top. As noble and idyllic as it sounds, one person is rarely able to effect change against corruption of that magnitude. The Astros’ priority would have been to control the message to avoid negative P.R. That would have also been the league’s priority. Either party would have advised or forced Fiers to remain quiet. And if word got out that Fiers had gone to the Astros’ brass or the league about the cheating scheme? He would have been branded with the same “traitor” label he’s receiving now. On one hand, Fiers could have affected zero change and still been considered a bad teammate. On the other hand, Fiers forces the Astros and the league to act by going public, and still gets labeled by some as a traitor. Ultimately, Fiers made the right call by getting word out to a third party where the message couldn’t be controlled and squelched by an interested party.
Martínez is one of the all-time greats when it comes to pitching. There are few people we should want to listen talk about pitching than Pedro. But when it comes to situations like this, he is damaging the sport more than he is helping it. For a $10 billion dollar industry becoming increasingly embedded with gambling, it should strive for honesty and transparency above all else. If it is more concerned with eschewing whistleblowers than with achieving fairness, then its priorities are not in order. Fiers is the good guy in all of this, not the bad guy.