Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has dual arts degrees from Ohio State University.

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In light of what came down Monday about the Houston Astros cheating to steal signs, are your eyes opened now as to the rest of the world of professional sports, technology, analytics…and integrity?

Somehow, when the word came down on Monday…I felt vindicated.

For all the times that I’ve written about my lack of priority concerning the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball…and to all the comments from those who write to tell me, “You’re just a hater.  You’re old fashioned.  You won’t even buy a smart phone (I still have a flip)”…to all of that today I feel more strongly than ever that the old ways are somehow still the best ways.

Greg Hoard calls it:  “You need to lose the ‘get off my grass’ attitude.”

When Major League Baseball suspended Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch yesterday,  for a year…only to have Astros owner Jim Crane then fire them, unceremoniously…somehow it came as an affirmation to me.  It told me that maybe I’ve been right in believing that major league sports is too big, too arrogant, too expensive, lacking in ethics…and concern for a sense of relationship with the common fan.  We’re just better than you, the product screams tacitly, while fleecing the proletariat for $12 beers and $8 hot dogs.  And if you want to see us play the Yankees it’ll cost you 50% more.

Well Monday, we got not just a sense of everything I’ve ever questioned, we saw justice done.  And let’s face it…there’s been a modicum of cheating in sports forever.  Stealing signs is nothing new, and an art form to coaches who used to stand in the dugout and decipher when the other team was giving the hit and run.  There was a certain innocence to all that.  It was ‘gamesmanship’.

But now we know just how far people will go to cheat – much more than spitting on the ball.  And once you cross the line of analytics and technology, there becomes a blend that apparently gets easier to cross with each passing day.  Technology, in the wrong hands and for the wrong purpose, has made fools of us all.  Suddenly, a flip phone doesn’t seem so bad.

And answer me this?  If I’m writing to you…are you so naive to believe that if the Houston Astros were doing it, that others aren’t doing it, too?  Or at the least, they’re not far behind?

If the New England Patriots are doing it…what other teams would not be finding another, better way of doing what they can to gain advantage through technology?  Are you naive to believe…that it’s one and done?

This is far from the end of it.  The Boston Red Sox and their manager Alex Cora are facing their own punishment for Cora’s part in the Houston mess.  Cora was a bench coach for the Astros in 2017, and is involved in another, separate, video scandal.  And again I ask…if one or two teams were doing it, why would the others not follow?

Houston owner Jim Crane fired his general manager and manager while claiming that he had no idea of what was going on.

And across baseball others are claiming innocence, while increasing their staffs with those knowledgeable in how to use technology to its ultimate advantage.  Can you say…tempting fate?

Baseball, itself, wants to pursue technology to the point of replacing umpires with robotic accuracy – for the sake of making the game more fair, and to eliminate any future questions over human error and ethics.

Nothing like Monday’s punishments has come down on baseball since 1919, when the Chicago White Sox were caught throwing the World Series to the Reds.  Even Pete Rose betting on baseball seems benign, in comparison.

And while I believe that there were others besides Rose – and that Cooperstown is not squeaky clean – I believe, too, that there are more Houston Astros.

And I don’t believe Jim Crane.

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