Mike Fiers is the one who blew the whistle on the Astros stealing signs last November. Last week Ken Giles offered to return his World Series ring, citing regret over it all and his failure to speak out about it. Today, former Astro and new Boston Red Sox pitcher Collin McHugh said this about it:
You’ve got to be willing to stick up for what you believe in and what you believe is right and what you believe is wrong. And I think a lot of the guys on that team, including myself, are looking back now and wishing we had been as brave in the moment as we thought we were beforehand . . .
. . . To put myself in the shoes of the guys who pitched against us in 2017 and to know that our hitters made that job that much harder that year — it’s hard to swallow. And I feel for them and I understand the anger and I understand when people are mad and pissed off. I get it. I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to be out there and feel like a team has your signs. It’s a lonely place.”
McHugh also spoke to a talking point I’ve heard from a lot of people who have sought to diminish the Astros’ culpability in all of this. The “everyone else is doing it” defense:
“And we truly believed — or we were made to believe — that it was happening to us, too. And we don’t know if that was true or not, but that’s not justification for doing anything. Just because you think they’re doing it is not justification for doing something you know is not right.”
As McHugh noted in his comments, it wouldn’t have been easy for him or the other pitchers to speak up about it. It was something that was implemented for the benefit of the team’s hitters, so speaking up might’ve been seen as being out of line or something. Heck, even if a hitter wanted to speak out about it it might’ve been hard, at least if the hitter did not have the standing of players who had no qualms about it.
That kind of group dynamic and the stigma that exists in baseball against being seen as a boat-rocker no doubt pushed hard against being proactive about it at the time. It was up to a team leader to do something about it and all of the team leaders, it seems, lacked the desire or the courage to do so. Mostly because they were benefitting from the cheating.
Now, after the fact, it seems that only former Astros have that desire and courage.