Amidst all of the controversy surrounding the sign-stealing scandal that has sent ripples throughout the league, there have been a number of unintended consequences. For one, the issue with baseball being incredibly cagey about the whole affair means that the internet is the one and only source for any clues into the scandal, including videos breaking down in-game minutia, looking for the possibility of evidence.
That can be good, in a way. It was Rob Arthur at Baseball Prospectus who somewhat conclusively proved the trash-banging via audio clips, and the story officially broke when Mike Fiers spilled the beans to The Athletic.
The difference of course is that those people actually are journalists, and I can’t say with a straight face that I am one myself. That’s why you couldn’t help feeling sucked into the minute-by-minute breakdown on Thursday, which gave us whiplash to find out that not only that Carlos Beltrán’s niece wasn’t actually his niece, but that we later discovered that this was a fake account for none other than Incarcerated Bob, a known entity on the sports online ecosystem, mostly for being half-right on rumors of this nature. Hell, go back to a Colts forum back in 2012 and he’s described as “Seem[ing] to be right about the same amount of times as the weather man.”
While Major League Baseball claims that the Astros did not wear electronic devices based on their investigation, it’s hard to be sure of the truth. Internal investigations prior to this year were not capable of abating the culture of cheating, so like all scandals, it’s a matter of just wondering who knew what, when they knew it, and why they didn’t act upon it.
The collapse of our institutions in real-time—economic, political, and social—breeds this kind of conspiracy-making, whether it’s examining shirt creases for devices or examining Comet Ping Pong for signs of the occult, though in a totally different order of magnitude.
The problem, though, is that there is no shared truth, again because the top-down influence of our institutions is in neon lights saying Y O U C A N N O T T R U S T U S, not the least helped by the fact that the playoffs literally saw a different kind of baseball every day. The end result is that every Twitter identity is a detective, and anything they say is evidence. Now, on to the cautious tale.
On that same, hectic Thursday, another figure came forward, David Brosius, son of former Yankees third baseman Scott Brosius. Brosius heard some rumors himself from his father, and plainly stated the following: “If you want to read something better, Mike Trout takes HGH for a ‘thyroid’ condition. It’s a loophole he found and the MLB doesn’t make it public because they don’t want fans knowing their best player is on HGH.” He eventually walked back the accusation, saying that “The example I used of Mike Trout does not stem from information from my Dad or sources within MLB and has no evidence behind it. I had no intention of this becoming an accusation against Mike Trout or causing the uproar it did.”
This even warranted a response from both the league and the Player’s Association, saying in a joint statement that “no major league or minor league player has ever received a therapeutic use exemption for, or otherwise received permission to use, Human Growth Hormone (HGH).”
My mind is kind of boggled that they even needed to respond. Brosius is an authority of some sort in that he’s the relative of a coach and former player, but he isn’t a league mouthpiece, nor does he actually have evidence to warrant that kind of authority.
Which just speaks to the level of authority the league actually has on the truth. If people genuinely had trust in the league to administer the game properly, people wouldn’t be investigating the seam of the ball for issues and gasping at every fly ball, or looking at every player’s clothes and actions for clues of cheating. The end result is basically believing anything: if the league is comprised, then it’s not a stretch to say its best player can’t be stained.
That’s true in an abstract sense; I don’t actually believe this, but you can’t say that any one player is immune to making bad decisions. But what I can say is that it isn’t a good sign—in fact, it’s a total crisis—when the difference between truth and reality are blurred, and you somehow have to sit down and watch a baseball game in April and just hope the audience all sees the same thing.