“Thou shalt not steal.” That’s pretty straightforward. No wiggle room there. The stone tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai had no asterisks and footnotes to clarify the Author’s intent.
But, then, there’s baseball. For some reason, baseball seems to be exempt from that particular commandment. Apparently, the prohibition against theft doesn’t apply to baseball. In baseball, stealing is encouraged, at least to some extent.
Stealing bases, for instance. How can that be justified? Surely, it’s immoral to take a base that doesn’t belong to you. Yet, base runners do it frequently, or try to, in every single game. Sure, they get thrown out on occasion and have to go back to the dugout, but the next guy who gets on base learns nothing from his teammate’s chastisement and tries to do the same thing – and the raucous fans in the stadium cheer him on!
Less than avid fans might argue that the price of tickets for a baseball game also represents robbery, even before scalpers get hold of them. And don’t get them started on the price of concessions and souvenirs.
Still, baseball’s not completely immoral. There is one kind of theft that’s prohibited in baseball: sign stealing.
As everyone knows, the Astros covertly surveilled the signs that other teams’ catchers would make to their pitchers and stealthily communicated that valuable info to Astro batters. Knowing what kind of pitch is coming in is a decided, if unfair, advantage.
The Astros got nailed for it, too. Managers were suspended (then fired), and the team was fined $5 million and forced to forfeit draft picks.
Their troubles may not be over, because they stole something else from fans willing to pay the high prices for attendance. One season ticket holder has filed suit against the Astros in Harris County District Court, alleging that the team “repeatedly defrauded fans” of opportunities to see honest games.
He’s got a point, but the team has already paid for its crime, and most of the fans just want a chance to enjoy another season.