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Joe Mauer on cheating scandal in MLB: ‘I just think it’s flat-out wrong’

Two weeks ago, before the allegations surfaced publicly that certain players were not only stealing signs using cameras, but also relaying those signs to hitters using electronic signals or ‘buzzers’ on their body, Patrick Reusse offered his best idea to combat the alleged actions in baseball’s latest dramatic cheating scandal.

How about honesty?

It certainly seems that there’s a lot of toothpaste already out of this tube. So who knows at this point what’s true, how deep it runs, who was involved and, importantly, how baseball will act to try to combat it going forward. What we do know is that three prominent MLB managers are out of a job, two recent World Series winners face serious questions, and this whole ordeal figures to be messy for the league.

Recently retired Twins player Joe Mauer doesn’t like what he’s seeing, he said, and that was before the allegations of cheating reached the ‘buzzer-under-the-uniform’ level of sophistication. Mauer was asked about the unfolding drama Thursday morning, when the allegations were contained to trash-can banging and Apple watches in the dugout.

Where would he like to see a line drawn in this case?

“I think they just did it,” Mauer said, referring to season-long suspensions for former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. “To be honest, I haven’t read up on the investigation and things like that, but for the Commissioner to come out and suspend guys for a year, that tells you how serious it is and how wrong it is.”

“What they did, it’s cheating,” Mauer said on the SKOR North Twins Show. “To me, in my eyes, it’s [the same as] using steroids or cheating certain ways like that. So it’s really disappointing, and guys that are playing it the right way, you’re angry. It’s just not a good thing. but I’m glad that they’re coming out and punishing guys that are not doing it the right way.”

Caught up in the fallout of this story are now-ex-managers Alex Cora (Red Sox) and Carlos Beltran (Mets). And we don’t yet know if that’s where this ends. This conversation with Mauer took place before the allegations reached a fever pitch on social media Thursday afternoon, in one of the craziest days for baseball on Twitter since the platform began.

Many (if not all) MLB teams look at video before and after games to crack the code of signs and pitch sequences. But Mauer says that he’d prefer that baseball stick to the old-fashioned way. Get on second base and look in for tipped pitches or clues in the pitch sequence.

“As far as sign stealing goes, using technology or cameras to hone in on opposing players … to me, it just feels wrong. And that’s my opinion,” Mauer said. “If you’re on the field or in the box and you see a pitcher’s tipping his glove a certain way, to me that’s fair game. Or picking up sign sequences when you’re out on second base looking in, or seeing how a pitcher’s holding the baseball and relaying it to your guys – that to me is fair play. But when you start going in and using that type of technology, I just think it’s flat-out wrong.”

Mauer joined the show to promote a charity cause, raising money for Crescent Cove, children’s respite and hospice home in Brooklyn Center, which Mauer said is the third of its kind in the U.S. Their 8th annual Home Plate Gala is on Saturday, Jan. 25th, at the St. Paul Rivercentre, and tickets are on sale through midnight Saturday. Attendees include Mauer, Max Kepler, Randy Dobnak, and other Twins legends like Tony Oliva, Jack Morris and Paul Molitor.

Mauer also addressed the level of advantage, from the perspective of an elite hitter, when a batter knows what pitch is coming. “It’s a lot easier,” Mauer said. “If a guy’s throwing 104 miles an hour, it’s still challenging to hit, but when you’re looking for one pitch rather than 2 or 3 it’s a lot easier.

“It’ll always be a ‘what-if they weren’t doing that, would the result have been the same?’ Who knows. But I know that as a hitter, if I know what pitch is coming, it’s a huge advantage,” he said.


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