Is Cheating Worth the Risk?
What an interesting day we had on our hands with MLB handing down sentencing for the Astros organization cheating scandal…
BREAKING: Per sources, MLB’s penalties for #Astros include:
*One-year suspensions for GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch.
*Losses of 1st and 2nd round draft picks in both 2020 and ‘21.
*A fine of $5M.
Full story and more context with @EvanDrellich: https://t.co/djvKEYFiC7
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2020
An unprecedented decree for this specific violation, but I can’t help agreeing with my guy WhiteSoxDave on this comparison…
I still think this is REALLY light compared to what Capolella and the Braves got for manipulating bonuses a few years back, Lunhow should be thanking all that is holy he didn't get the lifetime boot
— wsd (@barstoolWSD) January 13, 2020
Anywho, that’s not why you left-clicked into this virtual tab to read my partially joined sentences. You are here to read about Cheating Risk. First this, so we can set the tone for this quick blogaments.
Trust me, we’ll come back to this at the end, but it’s important to not only measure the “tangible” or what you would consider “really happened” with the abstract, what you would consider “didn’t happen, or happened, but you can’t prove it”.
If you want to scare teams away from this level of cheating, I think it's fair. https://t.co/o7WysyYAXe
— Josh Nelson (@soxmachine_josh) January 13, 2020
Josh is my guy, one of my favorite people amongst all the WhiteSox bloggers and podcaster circle, but I totally do NOT agree with this thought. The teams aren’t scared of doing shit. Let’s see what they (Ownership) got penalized in $$$. $5M fine, then the right to NOT PAY GM & Manager, let’s assume that is a wash, so we are back to zero. Then the team also got the right to not pay some top draft picks in some upcoming drafts, let’s put that number at ~$10M. So a savings a $10M, on top of any extra income they earned that was helped by the cheating (I would assume, although not completely safely that their 2017 run through the playoffs to a World Series victory is at least partially fueled by edges gained in this capacity, not to mention other capacities not prosecuted). I’d say the team is plenty happy with the results, although not as happy with being vilified in public. Now, losing future draft capital sucks balls, but they’ll be ready to go into their next rebuild by then, so they’ll probably thrive from this episode.
Jobs in baseball are precious. These penalties, combined with the firing, are harsh enough to persuade other GMs to avoid this for themselves, imo.
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) January 13, 2020
I love Eno’s work. The Rates & Barrels podcast on the Athletic might be my favorite podcast on that app, he’s also a beer guy, which fits right in with the #108ing lifestyle and while he has access to probably tons of GM’s and I have access to none, I have to vehemently disagree with this sentiment. Those jobs are extremely competitive jobs and the more likely reason to get ousted from one is non-performance, so I seriously doubt the penalties today are going to change anything. Just revisit WhiteSoxDave’s tweet above, that situation isn’t very far in our rear view mirror.
NOT TO MENTION….we don’t even know how many teams / GM’s / Managers / Players are currently cheating in similar (and more importantly) non-similar ways to gain an edge that aren’t being detected. THE ABSTRACT. Do you really believe ONLY the Astros and Red Sox have cheated / are cheating. That would constitute ~6-7% of the league is cheating?? As if. Oh shit, I forgot lots of you are college football fans and can only see the others cheating, but not your team. My apologies. Let’s see what Trevor Bauer has to say.
My statements on the whole spin rate thing. Read this https://t.co/BdCmh2qw6q
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) May 2, 2018
Seems like CHEATING. But again, since nobody is being caught and we humans can’t envision the other ways teams might be cheating, we don’t care. It’s in the ABSTRACT. Teams couldn’t possibly be doing that, until they are. Cheating is ALWAYS going to be a risk reward proposition. Certain industries, let’s say Banking and Finance have less penalties when they go awry and let’s say tank an entire economy, where as the Crack Cocaine industry of the 1990’s faced more draconian penalties, but both still operated regardless.
I’ll end with a personal story, again, for you the ABSTRACT, for me, the TANGIBLE. I went to a WELL KNOWN Chicago High School. I was in what we might call the “Honors” classes at said high school (I’m not naming it here, as I’d like to avoid incriminating people for ~25 year old crimes), but I was well at the bottom of that group. However, some of the folks towards the top of that group were involved in an organized and dedicated cheating ring. That’s right. The top students in my class, at least half of that group where cheating, regularly, with purpose. It’s not that they weren’t smart enough to get these grades, but with all of the other extra-curricular activities required to land in a good college, well, they took liberties. I can’t really remember anyone being caught, maybe a slap on the wrist here or there. These students knew there were consequences to being caught and still did it. They were smart kids that were going to get into a good college regardless. The risk reward lined up nicely for them, because the difference between going to U Chicago or some medium level college, were massive.
Is Cheating Worth the Risk? YES, SOMETIMES and cheating will continue regardless of the consequences.