Boston Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez doesn’t agree with how Mike Fiers exposed the Houston Astros in the sign-stealing scandal.
There’s a fine line between doing the right thing and doing what’s right by your teammates. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez believes Mike Fiers crossed the line when he betrayed the Houston Astros by going on the record with The Athletic in the report that exposed their sign-stealing scheme.
The Hall of Fame pitcher joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Lou Merloni, and Mike Mutnansky at Red Sox Winter Weekend to discuss why he disagrees with how Fiers handled this situation.
"“If he was to do it when he was playing for the Houston Astros I would say Mike Fiers has guts. But to go and do it after you leave the Houston Astros because they don’t have you anymore, that doesn’t show me anything,” Martinez said. “You’re just a bad teammate.”"
Fiers kept quite about the Astros underhanded tactics during their World Series championship season in 2017 when he was a member of their pitching staff. He was willing to look the other way while benefiting from his team’s lineup gaining an edge from stealing signs. Now that he pitches for the Oakland A’s, Fiers dropped a bombshell that threatens to derail a division rival. The integrity of the game apparently only matters to Fiers when it benefits him.
Martinez is speaking out against Fiers for breaking the clubhouse code. The old saying of “what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse” is taken seriously by many players. If Fiers had a problem with what was going on during Houston’s 2017 season, he should have handled it internally rather than throwing his former teammates under the bus on his way out of town.
"“If you have integrity you find ways to tell everybody in the clubhouse, ‘Hey, we might get in trouble for this. I don’t want to be part of this.’ You call your GM. You tell him. Or you call anybody you can or MLB or someone and say, ‘I don’t want to be part of this.’ Or you tell the team, ‘Get me out of here, I don’t want to be part of this.’ Then you show me something,” said Martinez."
There are a few takeaways we can gather from Pedro’s harsh comments.
For starters, Martinez is in no way condoning what the Astros were caught doing. Their elaborate system extends well beyond the typical sign-stealing tactics that have been utilized for almost as long as baseball has existed. Martinez stated he wants MLB to clean up the game and he commended the commissioner for cracking down on Houston. He’s not upset that the Astros were caught cheating, he’s disappointed in how Fiers went about exposing them.
To play Devil’s Advocate with this take, how would the Astros have been caught if it weren’t for a player speaking out? MLB suspended manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow when their investigation concluded that they were complicit with this sign-stealing scheme. Alex Cora may have been the mastermind but the people he reported to did nothing to stop him.
Do we know for certain that Fiers didn’t plead with his teammates to knock it off? What if he brought the issue up to his manager or general manager only to have his concerns brushed aside? His former teammates in Houston might be angry with Fiers for being a snitch and perhaps he never gave them fair warning by trying to address the issue internally before going public. However, what evidence do we have that it would have made any difference if he tried voicing his concerns in the clubhouse instead of to the media?
If Fiers hadn’t said anything, perhaps the Astros would have continued cheating. Cora is long gone but the players could have carried on the system he orchestrated.
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It’s a bad look for Fiers to wait until he joined a division rival before blowing the whistle but he still took a significant risk by coming forward. As Pedro alluded to, everyone in the A’s clubhouse knows that he stabbed his former teammates in the back. That has to make them feel uneasy about trusting him. When Fiers hits free agency after this upcoming season, his market could be limited if teams are cautious about inviting a known whistle-blower into their organization.
Of course, teams have no reason to question if he’s trustworthy if they have nothing to hide. Martinez’ concerns regarding how Fiers will be viewed by his current teammates suggest that the Astros aren’t the only team stepping outside of the rules to gain an edge. Pedro played for a handful of different teams in his career so he’s had first-hand experience with how various organizations operate behind the scenes.
We also can’t ignore that one of the teams Pedro played for is currently being investigated for their own sign-stealing scandal. Martinez serves as a special assistant for the Red Sox so his connection to this franchise remains long after his playing days have ended. Just as Fiers blew the whistle on Houston, The Athletic had multiple sources from the 2018 Red Sox who exposed the process of using the replay room to decode signs. We don’t know which players ratted out Boston but we can suspect that they are no longer with the team. Was Pedro sending a message to those unnamed sources with his comments?
Baseball has long been a sport that follows unwritten rules that players police themselves. Fiers may have done the right thing by shining a light on Houston’s cheating habits but the way he went about it understandably rubs some players the wrong way. His former teammates in Houston certainly feel the sting of his betrayal and the comments from Martinez show that those watching from outside the organization frown on his actions.