Snitches Get Stitches: The Consequences of Telling the Truth

The initial fallout and punishment of the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal last year has since been dwarfed by the seismic aftermath that has followed since the report was officially released to the public. The systematic cheating that the Astros utilized revolved around the use of technology to extract upcoming pitch information. This technique presented their batter’s with advanced information about the upcoming pitch, allowing them to make a decision before the ball even left the pitcher’s hand. The Astros World Series title in 2017 has since been tainted as they were found to have used this tactic during their run. This information has irritated sports lovers world-wide, leading many to vote that they should have to give up their championship over the scandal.

Even Lebron James of the NBA took to Twitter to voice his opinion on the matter over his All-Star break. With his tweets aligning with the general consensus, an interesting counter argument arouse from a former MLB All-star this past month. David Ortiz, who played 20 seasons in the MLB and massed an astonishing amount of awards was quoted saying that the Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers (who was the ‘whistle-blower’ for the case) was a indeed a ‘snitch‘. Ortiz stated that Friers should have said something back in 2017 when he was still on the championship team, instead of waiting till after he was traded.

Lebron James’ opinion on the Astros cheating incident via Twitter

This issue brings to light the discrepancies between what we value in everyday society versus what we value in sport. During a meeting that took place on October 22nd, 2019 between a group of umpires, MLB officials and the managers and general managers of the Astros and Nationals an odd comment was dropped. During this meeting, Joe Torre, who serves as MLB’s chief baseball officer, dropped a “no-shenanigans” warning. This statement proves that the Astros’ reputation for being rampant cheaters had so preceded them that the Nationals, umpires, and officials, had arrived prepared.

As social beings, we pursue cohesion and I believe this is how the Houston Astros were able to systematically cheat for over two seasons. Even with other teams having suspicions, it was not until an internal source came forward that the MLB would start their investigation. As hyper-masculinity is a dominant theme in the MLB, snitching is frowned upon as it is a violation of sport ethic norms. Telling the truth is praised in everyday society, but according to 20 season veteran Ortiz, it is “snitching”. In-group bias is held to a high standard in a collectivity of people as it is relied upon to reinforce the reproduction of attractive beliefs and behaviours that are held by the group. Violation of group norms can be seen as an act against said group and this phenomenon has been studied previously by sociologist in regard to convict codes, therefore, do athletes and criminals share the same morals? As snitching is looked down upon in both groups, where is the ethical line to be drawn between sport and conviction?


Featured Image: Ortiz’s opinion on Whistle-blower in the Astros cheating scandal (Source: SportsCenter Twitter)

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