Monday, July 13, 2015

4 comments Bill Plaschke Asks Fair Questions That I Find to Be Ethically Questionable

Bill Plaschke is a non-sensical ESPN talking head. He does "Around the Horn" and writes occasional scathing, idiotic columns as any columnist even tangentially related to ESPN is want to do. Plaschke writes mostly drivel that is reactionary and follows whatever tangent he feels like following on that day. Every once in a while he goes off the rails and does something like accuse an MLB player of using steroids or freaks out when a Dodgers player gets traded. Now Plaschke has taken it to a whole new level (if you ask me). He thinks because individuals in the Cardinals' front office were accused of hacking the Astros computer system then this must mean the Cardinals players are cheaters and this is the only way to explain how they beat the Dodgers in the postseason in each of the last two years. This is an unfair accusation and a column that lacks integrity. The Cardinals players are not the same thing as the Cardinals front office. They are two separate entities and to accuse the Cardinals of cheating on the field (even though Clayton Kershaw rightly points out some of what the Cardinals are being accused of doing by Plaschke isn't cheating) crosses some journalism ethical line. There is no evidence that the Cardinals cheated on the field or did anything improper. Yet, because the front office of the Cardinals is accused of hacking the Astros, that's where Bill Plaschke chooses to take the discussion. I'm embarrassed for him that he isn't more embarrassed for himself.

And yes, I do enjoy the jokes about "The Cardinal Way" in regard to how members of the organization are accused of spying on the Astros. It's all fun because it serves as a dichotomy from how the Cardinals are portrayed in October of every year as "playing the game the right way." They are jokes and they are fun. I don't believe any reasonable person could decide that because members of the Cardinals organization hacked a computer this means cheating is prevalent throughout the organization. Well, except for Bill Plaschke. This is the conclusion he reaches.

After watching the planet's best pitcher endure two unimaginable meltdowns in the same situation to the same team in consecutive Octobers, some Dodgers fans began to wonder.

Will we ever beat the Cardinals in the postseason? Why can't Clayton Kershaw pitch better in big games? What does Bill Plaschke have derogatory to say about Yasiel Puig when blaming the loss on him? 

Were the St. Louis Cardinals cheating?

At the time, I really, really doubt the Dodgers players were wondering if the Cardinals players were cheating. Even now, I don't think they are asking that. I think the Dodgers players are mostly asking, "Why does Bill Plaschke still write about us? Isn't there somewhere else he can go or another team he can cover?" 

Maybe not, but now federal authorities think they may be cheaters.

Nope. They don't think the Cardinals players are cheaters, they think people in the Cardinals organization are cheaters. There is a crucial difference in the Cardinals organization and the Cardinals players cheating, mainly that there is no evidence of cheating on the field as Bill Plaschke will now accuse the Cardinals of doing.

Just call them the New England Cardinals … or maybe the St. Louis Patriots …

I can't figure out why ESPN chooses to bring certain talking heads on to shows like "Around the Horn." They aren't funny, they aren't creative. It's like many of the writers the network chooses to embrace are just the loudest and say the dumbest shit (hey, I've figured them out!). This joke from Plaschke isn't funny. It's lazy. It's especially lazy in a column where Bill Plaschke unethically accuses the Cardinals players of cheating when there is zero evidence this is true. 

or maybe just call them phonies in the wake of a New York Times report that they are being investigated by the FBI for hacking computer networks and stealing information about the Houston Astros.

Why would the Cardinals players be phonies? In everything that the FBI discovered, where is the mention of any Cardinals player as being a part of the hack or part of stealing the information? I'm sure Bill Plaschke would take offense to someone suggesting that because one "LA Times" writer was caught plagiarizing articles then that means Plaschke and others were plagiarizing as well. Of course, Plaschke isn't paid to be self-aware. He's paid to write stupid shit. So...job well done. He's managed to accuse the Cardinals players of cheating when there is zero evidence this is true. 

The Cardinals have long promoted themselves as keepers of baseball's old-fashioned flame, the curators of smart and selfless play, the architects of what they proudly call, "The Cardinal Way."

Which, by the way, is mostly bullshit. I think most non-sportswriters understand "The Cardinal Way" isn't quite the biblical text that baseball writers like to present it as every October. 

Yet the FBI believes that "way" detoured into a dark place in which employees gained access to the Astros' database with passwords Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow used when he worked for the Cardinals.

There is no evidence the Cardinals' alleged spying involved any team other than the Astros. 

But, there is evidence that Bill Plaschke wants there to be evidence the Cardinals were cheating in the playoffs against the Dodgers. The evidence that Plaschke wants to exist is irrefutable. It is mostly irrefutable because it doesn't exist and it's very hard to disprove a negative. 

When asked Tuesday, the Dodgers publicly dismissed speculation their postseason losses involved any sort of digital espionage.

The Dodgers organization says Plaschke is barking up the wrong tree by suggesting the Cardinals are cheating and Clayton Kershaw will say Plaschke isn't correct in wondering if the Cardinals cheated. Obviously, this means Plaschke needs to just accuse the Cardinals of cheating a little bit more to better get his point across. 

If the Cardinals would sneak into an opponent's computer, which is a federal crime and far worse than deflating a few footballs, what else would they do to gain an edge?

I don't know. You would have to ask the people who hacked the Astros computer, which was not the Cardinals players, to see what else they would do to gain an edge. Though Plaschke may be on to something...

Did the Cardinals organization, led by Yadier Molina, murder Oscar Tavares because he knew too much and was going to speak publicly? If the Cardinals committed murder like this, what else would they do to protect their secrets? Darryl Kile died of a "heart attack" but how can this be trusted without an independent investigator, chosen by Bill Plaschke of course, confirming this as true? Josh Hancock died in a "car accident," but is that what it was? Was Hancock just another innocent person looking to blow the whistle on the Cardinals organization's decades of cheating? If the Cardinals would become an organization of serial killers, what else would they do to protect their secrets? Simply cheating to beat the Dodgers would be no big deal.

If they would cheat against a long-struggling team such as the Astros, why wouldn't they cheat to beat the richest team in baseball and their Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw?

Because they were able to beat him without cheating. Because the Cardinals had access to hack a division rival's computer and didn't have access to the Dodgers' computer systems. Because it wasn't the players who cheated, it was members of the Cardinals organization that don't play professional baseball who cheated. 

But so much of the Cardinals success was so eerie, Dodgers fans wondered whether this so-called model franchise was actually a model of deceit.

I don't remember reading a single article after the Dodgers' last two postseason losses to the Cardinals where a member of the Dodgers team, organization or even a Dodgers beat writer suggested the Cardinals were cheating. This is all written by Plaschke in hindsight with no regard for the accuracy of his statements. Shameful. 

Start with the fourth pitch to the third batter of their first game in the 2013 NLCS. Joe Kelly sent a fastball into Hanley Ramirez's side, fracturing one of his ribs and dramatically changing the series almost before it started.

Did Joe Kelly have a bug in the Dodgers' locker room to learn that Hanley Ramirez's ribs could be broken by a baseball hitting them at speeds of 90 mph? Where else could Kelly have gotten this information from? How else would Kelly have known Ramirez's ribs could break if struck with a baseball at a high speed? Is it a coincidence the Red Sox traded for Joe Kelly and then signed Hanley Ramirez? Was this a move just to keep Ramirez quiet by placating him with a big, new contract or was something else afoot? Were the Red Sox in on the Cardinals' string of serial murders and cheating to beat the Dodgers? After all, the Red Sox do play in the same area as known cheaters like the New England Patriots.

At the time, Ramirez was the Dodgers' hottest playoff hitter, batting .500 in the first round of the division series against the Atlanta Braves with four doubles, a triple, a homer and six RBIs in just four games. After the plunking, Ramirez could never fully swing again, batting .133 in the series with one RBI and no extra-base hits.

And there is NO WAY Kelly would have known about Ramirez's ribs being susceptible to being broken by a baseball unless there was a listening device in the Dodgers' locker room where Ramirez detailed how his bones are all unbreakable, except for his ribs, which unlike most other human beings, will shatter when impacted by a ball thrown at a high speed.

That benefit is now gone. Does anybody not believe that hit was intentional? Because it occurred in the first half inning of the series, would it be so surprising if it was organizationally planned and ordered?

JUST LIKE the Cardinals organization ordered the deaths of Tavares, Kile, and Hancock. I thought the mafia was located in Kansas City, not St. Louis? It sounds like the Cardinals are from St. Louis but are no saints. In fact, the Cardinals have "St." in front of their city name and the New Orleans Saints put a bounty on opposing players a few years ago. So if the Cardinals are saints like the New Orleans Saints were, what would stop them from intentionally injuring a player like Hanley Ramirez? HOW MUCH WAS THE BOUNTY ON RAMIREZ'S HEAD? WHERE IS MIKE MATHENY TO REFUTE THESE FACTS?

Then there was the curious case of Kershaw, who was mostly untouchable during Cy Young Award-winning seasons in 2013 and 2014, but completely fell apart when facing the Cardinals under pressure each of those years. Same hitters, same situations, same results, consecutive postseason collapses by baseball's best pitcher under very unusual circumstances with absolutely no warning signs.

So the same hitters hit the same pitcher well in two different series, and Bill's takeaway is that the Cardinals were cheating, not that the Cardinals just hit Kershaw well?

In Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cardinals he was just as powerful, allowing no earned runs and two hits in six innings. Nothing indicated what would happen next, when, in Game 6, he allowed seven runs in four innings in a 9-0, series-ending loss. He was so bad, throwing a career-high 48 pitches in the third inning, that it looked as if the Cardinals hitters knew exactly what was coming.

Or it could just be the Cardinals are good hitters who happened to get a lot of hits off Kershaw when he was struggling to get outs. 

Turns out, maybe they did. Three of the Cardinals' four run-scoring hits occurred with a Cardinal standing on second base peering into catcher A.J. Ellis' glove.

Stealing signs is not really cheating. It's part of the game. Clayton Kershaw will say this exact thing in a second. So the type of cheating Bill Plaschke is choosing to accuse the Cardinals of isn't even really cheating. 

Stealing signs by simply looking at the catcher is part of the game — if you don't like it, change your signs — but who knows if that's all the Cardinals were doing?

Well apparently you know because you are writing an entire column around the premise that because the Cardinals cheated by hacking into the Astros' computer then the Cardinals players were obviously cheating on the field as well. The entire basis of this column is that Plaschke knows the Cardinals were cheating against the Dodgers. He's accusing them of this in this column. 

Kershaw was asked Tuesday whether he thought the Cardinals could have used anything against him.

"No," he said,

Then, mostly assuming Kershaw is a part of the conspiracy as well, Plaschke furthers on completely ignoring Kershaw's answer. After all, Kershaw grew up in Texas with Matthew Stafford who plays for the Detroit Lions, which means maybe by saying "no" Kershaw was trying to give the hint to Plaschke that he knew more and was "lyin'" when he claimed the Cardinals weren't cheating? Was this answer of "No" a crime for help from Kershaw? Is Clayton Kershaw next on the hit list for the Cardinals organization? When will his eventual murder take place?

Plus, Kershaw is from Dallas, Texas and the Astros are located in Texas as well. It's entirely possible that Kershaw is a mole for the Cardinals organization.

"I don't know anything but if the FBI's involved, it's a criminal act," he said of the Cardinals. "Stealing pitches isn't a criminal act, it's part of the game."

Of course Clayton Kershaw poo-pooing the idea the Cardinals were cheating won't stop Plaschke from continuing down this road. He already had 250 words written. There's no time to change column topics now. 

Then there was Game 4, a 3-2 loss in which Kershaw allowed all three runs in the seventh inning on arguably the most unusual home run of the season. Matt Adams went deep on a Kershaw curveball for the first homer by a left-handed hitter against the pitcher all season.

Didn't Ozzie Smith one time hit a rare home run (rare for him, that is) in the playoffs in a key situation? What are the odds a light-hitting shortstop hits a home run in the playoffs in a key situation without cheating being involved? This brings David Eckstein into question as well. What information did Eckstein have which helped him hit the cover off the ball in the 2006 World Series? Was Eckstein blackballed from MLB by the Cardinals because he knew too much and they didn't have the heart to kill such a scrappy little overachiever?

It was also the first home run by a left-handed hitter on a curveball in Kershaw's seven-year career. And, what a surprise, there was a Cardinal on second base.

I'm pretty sure Clayton Kershawk just clarified that stealing pitches is part of the game, if this even happened. Plaschke is not only making up shit the Cardinals have done in an effort to call them cheaters, but he's also managing to accuse the Cardinals of cheating in situations where some MLB players don't even consider it cheating.

Ellis said Tuesday the team's pitching plan was not kept digitally and would be impossible to steal. He said there was nothing that would make him worry about the Cardinals in the future.

Is this the same A.J. Ellis that is from Missouri? St. Louis is in Missouri! My God, where does this conspiracy end? Kershaw AND Ellis were in on the conspiracy to be moles within the Dodgers organization for the Cardinals? The question has to remain: How many people has A.J. Ellis killed in order to protect his secrets?

But still … were the Dodgers beaten by the Cardinal Way, or the Cardinal Con?

Go away. Please. Do it for the kids. 

It might be unfair to reach that conclusion, but it is now fair to ask that question.

No, it is not fair to ask this question now. Members of the Cardinals organization are accused of hacking the Astros' computer system. This doesn't mean the Cardinals players were involved with any type of cheating. As I said earlier, this is like saying because one "LA Times" writer was accused of plagiarism, that every writer at the newspaper was also plagiarizing articles when there is no evidence to support this.

Bill Plaschke has crossed the line from a dopey useless sportswriter who yells things in order to gain attention into a dopey useless sportswriter who unethically accuses a professional organization of cheating when there is no proof this is true.  


Chris said...

I will admit I have no idea what kind of front office environment Lunhow worked under in St. Louis but would it really be standard for these employees that are under suspicion to know his password? It would seem to defeat the basic purpose of a password if other people knew what it was.

Speaking of passwords why on earth would Jeff Lunhow be dumb enough to use the same passwords with the Astros that he did with the Cardinals. By no means am I saying he was asking for someone to hack him but wouldn't you at least consider changing the password at least once? He's been Astros GM for 4 years and he's never changed his password? Maybe I'm just paranoid but with the way hackers can get people's personal information with realtive ease these days as the recent OPM government hack fiasco showed, I would think that would make someone be a little more vigilant on the security measures they use to protect their info, be it personal or in this case team business.

Also I know these are serious allegations against the Cards but I wouldn't necessarily agree with Plaschke that we are in some kind of "dark place". This isn't the Bourne Identity or James Bond. The Cardinals weren't hacking nuclear missle launch codes. Let's ease up on the hyperbole

Slag-King said...

King Roland: 1-2-3-4-5. (The password for opening the planetary shield.)

Dark Helmet: That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kinda thing an idiot would have on his luggage.

President Skroob: That's amazing. I've got the same combination on my luggage.

This is for you, Chris!

Chris said...

Right after I wrote all of that Slag I immediatly thought of that scene from Spaceballs

Bengoodfella said...

I remember seeing Spaceballs when I was younger and I don't think I got all the jokes. That one, I did get. I love that movie.

And yes, I have no idea why he wouldn't change the password from his time with the Cardinals. Maybe he knew they would hack him and get caught, so he was setting them up in order to tear them down?