Houston Astros superstar Jose Altuve has a tattoo on his collarbone. It's a simple tattoo, script bearing the name of his three-year-old daughter Melanie. This alone would not be a story, yet thanks to the never-ending sign-stealing scandal the Astros are embroiled in, this tattoo has become an important piece of evidence.
To catch you up to speed, the Astros were using video cameras to spy on catcher's signs for a couple of years and they have been disciplined by Major League Baseball for doing so. This includes the 2017 season, a year that ended with the Astros winning the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The L.A. city council even went as far as to ask MLB to name the Dodgers the real winners of the 2017 World Series.
in 2019, the Astros defeated the New York Yankees in the ALCS. once the cheating scandal came to light, players and fans have been adamant that they were robbed from an eventual title. The piece of evidence that they are using to show that the Astros were still cheating is Altuve's bomb that ended the series and the strange way that the second basemen celebrated.
Altuve very clearly did not want his teammates to rip off his shirt when he reached the dogpile at home plate. Some people are suggesting that this is because he was hiding an electronic buzzer under his jersey, a buzzer that allowed him to know what pitch was coming.
Which brings us all back to the tattoo. Altuve's teammate Carlos Correa had an explanation as to why Altuve didn't want to have his jersey ripped off—he had a bad tattoo that he didn't want people to see. Internet sleuths searched everywhere they could search to try and find shirtless photos of Altuve, they wanted to prove the tattoo didn't exist.
This led to Altuve very demonstrably taking his shirt off in front of all of the press on the first day of Spring Training, showing everybody the tattoo.
Ladies and gentlemen, buckle up. This whole ordeal has become the stupidest thing on Earth. Obviously, stealing signs is a form of cheating and we should not encourage players to cheat. Cheating is bad. But... this has become so idiotic. The method the Astros were using to relay signs previously was hitting a trash can with a bat. To think that they made the leap to a high-tech buzzer barely concealed under a jersey takes an enormous leap of faith.
Firstly, it takes a ton of effort to coordinate such a system, both in means of the technology (if the signal isn't there within seconds of learning the sign, the batter won't be able to adjust) and in the effort required to conceal such a system. You'd need a bunch of people working on it while concealing that there is any cheating going on. In other words, this would take a hell of a lot more than a dude watching a video hitting a garbage can with a bat.
Secondly, hiding the buzzer under the jersey would be silly. Jerseys come off. They get ripped open by teammates in celebrations, they get stretched out when diving for a ball and they get disheveled while sliding into a base. If you're going to go as far as devising an electronic cheating system, you're going to be damn sure that it doesn't come to light. Thus, you're putting that buzzer on the thigh or somewhere else under the pants.
Lastly, there are plenty of reasons Altuve might not have wanted to have his shirt ripped off by his teammates. Maybe he was shy. Maybe he didn't feel like being manhandled. Maybe he just wanted to mess around with his teammates. Maybe he really did want to conceal the tattoo for one reason or another. Who knows the actual reason, but to assume that the only reason he didn't want to be disrobed was that he was hiding an electronic buzzer is a gigantic leap.
I understand that fans are irritated by the whole scandal, I am as well. But at this point the whole discussion has crossed over into the absurd. In regards to the Altuve homer that ended the Yankees' season, maybe, just maybe, Aroldis Chapman shouldn't have hung a curveball right in Altuve's wheelhouse. A professional hitter doesn't need to know what pitch is coming to crush a meatball like that.