Pete Rose defends Astros despite not grasping basic mechanics of alleged sign-stealing

Jack BaerWriter

The alleged electronic sign-stealing of the Houston Astros is shaping up to be one of the biggest scandals in MLB history. There is credible reporting and overwhelming evidence that the team used a camera and trash can to steal signs in 2017, the year it won the World Series.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the person at the center of another of the sports’ great scandals has some thoughts on the matter. He just might need someone to explain it to him first.

Pete Rose: How does this work again?

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During an appearance on Houston’s ABC affiliate, Pete Rose, well known for his MLB lifetime ban for betting on games as a manager, was asked about the Astros’ alleged sign-stealing scheme.

His response was questioning how such a scheme is even possible.

This has, of course, been well-tread territory thanks to a certain portion of the internet. The initial report on the scheme from The Athletic laid it out pretty well:

The Astros’ set-up in 2017 was not overly complicated. A feed from a camera in center field, fixed on the opposing catcher’s signs, was hooked up to a television monitor that was placed on a wall steps from the team’s home dugout at Minute Maid Park, in the tunnel that runs between the dugout and the clubhouse. Team employees and players would watch the screen during the game and try to decode signs — sitting opposite the screen on massage tables in a wide hallway.

That’s simple enough. The theoretical time required to relay a sign from the catcher to the batter in that set-up would basically be the sum total of the video data traveling from camera to monitor (negligible), the employee recognizing the sign and banging the trash can (a couple seconds at most, if they know the signs) and the time it takes for the sound of the bangs to travel to the batter (also negligible).

What about the Astros’ alleged whistling?

Plenty of video and audio evidence is out there showing the whole thing in action. The bigger question is what the Astros could have done outside regular season home games in 2017, the only confirmed games to use the system. It seems highly unlikely the Astros would abandon such a strategy in the playoffs.

Rose actually mentions the alleged whistling the New York Yankees complained about in this year’s ALCS, evidence of which was reportedly found by MLB’s investigation. Rose theorizes such a method would be impractical because a “pretty girl” walking in would trigger whistles that could screw up the signal. Sure.

Crowd noise potentially drowning out the audio signals is a curiosity here, and one Astros source speculated to The Athletic that the noises of the World Series would have made the trash can system impractical.

Pete Rose isn't entirely sure how this whole Astros thing works. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Pete Rose isn't entirely sure how this whole Astros thing works. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Still, there are plenty ways the Astros could have gotten around that, and MLB seems intent on questioning players about every single one.

Rose struck a similar tone at a mall appearance the next day, again questioning the mechanics of a well-established story and claiming he would not have wanted such help as a player.

If Rose is telling the public he was above what you are accused of doing, you might be in a spot of trouble.

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