It’s been a while since baseball had storylines that kept the sport at the forefront of the sports media conversation prior to October.
But all of the recent talk of teams stealing signs and pitchers using illegal foreign substances has made the sport a trending topic amongst non-hardcore fans once again.
And it seems like all the cheating talk isn’t going away anytime soon, especially after this top MLB podcaster publicly exposed several big name teams and players by name for cheating.
Since November 2019, when the Houston Astros were exposed for having a massive sign stealing operation that coincided with their World Series win in 2017, the topic of cheating in baseball has been a major issue for the sport.
Slowly but surely, more and more accusations and suspicious activity have led the MLB to make cracking down on all the potential cheating a top priority.
That crackdown has now branched outside of sign stealing and made pitchers’ use of illegal foreign substances to get a better grip on the baseball and create a higher spin rate on the ball – thus increasing velocity and movement on breaking balls – the biggest story in the sport.
But the fact that the topic of cheating has literally been the sport’s primary topic of conversation for years now is apparently starting to weigh on baseball’s most hardcore supporters.
They obviously don’t want the sport to suffer any black eyes that can cause baseball to lose even more fans than they’ve already been losing over the past couple of decades, but they also want to move on from talking about cheating.
And that’s apparently why Ryan Spaeder, a top MLB podcaster, chose earlier this week to blow the lid off of all the cheating accusations by simply making every accusation he’s been told by multiple MLB players public.
Spaeder, who’s authored multiple books, contributed to outlets like NBC Sports and The Sporting News, and made appearances on the MLB Network, took to Twitter and accused teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Royals, Rockies, and Rangers as well as top players Adrian Beltran and Chase Utley of cheating.
“I’ve had enough, I think I am coming out with everything tomorrow . . . going to sleep on it,” Spaeder wrote on Twitter hours before he began dropping bombshell after bombshell on the sport.
Roughly 10 hours later, Spaeder began Tweeting again, prefacing his bombshells by writing, “Everything that I am about to say was verified by more than one player. I do not mean to burn anyone, and I love baseball . . . I’ve just had enough of this bullshit.”
He first took aim at the Royals and their 2015 World Series season, Tweeting, “The Royals were the first team with a full analytics and video department close by their dugout, doing so in 2015, their World Series Championship year. How they used it, I do not know.”
Next up were the Yankees, a team that has been linked to cheating by multiple media reports as well as fan YouTube videos showing possible clips that prove the team was cheating.
“The Yankees had cameras in left, center, and right, all pointing at the pitcher’s glove, rather than the catcher, to pick up his grip,” Spaeder wrote. “Aaron Judge 2017-18 home – .312/.440/.725, Aaron Judge 2017-18 road – .256/.404/.531.”
As for the Dodgers, Spaeder wrote, “The Dodgers had an employee who was caught setting up cameras at Minute Maid Park wearing an MLB Polo Shirt, when he should have been wearing a Dodgers Polo, during the 2017 World Series.”
Then Spaeder turned his attention to former Phillies great Chase Utley, writing, “This one hurts to say . . . my favorite player ever… ‘Chase Utley was the biggest cheater of all-time.’”
Spaeder also referenced future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltran, who has been a major part of the conversation surrounding the Astros’ sign stealing scandal.
“As insane as this sounds, I’ve heard this from multiple players, Adrian Beltre had a buddy with binoculars in dead center who would wave a beater (undershirt) if he was getting something off speed in 2017. Beltre 2017 home – .362/.440/.586. Beltre 2017 away – .271/.333/.489.”
Spaeder also backed up allegations against the Colorado Rockies made by longtime MLB catcher Erik Kratzie.
“Everything Kratzie already said about the Rockies . . .” Spaeder wrote indicating that the accusations made by Kratzie against the team were true.
And finally, Spaeder tweeted that the entire sign stealing operation that the Astros were busted for in 2019 was developed using the methods Beltran, the Yankees, and Rangers were all using.
“The Astros’ ‘sign stealing’ method all came from Beltran, New York, and Texas,” Spaeder wrote in his final tweet on the matter.
Obviously, those accusations caught a lot of attention, and many were upset with Spaeder for making them public, saying they were just “hearsay” even though he had multiple unnamed MLB players as sources for each.
Had a so-called “journalist” reported the exact same claims saying they had verified the accusations with multiple unnamed “MLB sources” – which is exactly what Spaeder did – the accusations would have been given all the credence in the world by the sports media.
They would have been looked at as facts because they came from a “journalist.”
But because they came from a “podcaster” who did the same thing “journalists” do everyday, many in the media dismissed the claims, and Spaeder was attacked for spreading “baseless” claims.
The pressure ultimately caused Spaeder to delete all of those Tweets, and issue an apology on Thursday afternoon, roughly 24 hours after making the accusations public.
I deeply regret everything that I said — it has turned my life upside down. It was a mistake, and I should not have reported on unfounded allegations. I sincerely apologize to all of those impacted — it should not have happened, and it will not happen again. Stick to stats.
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) June 17, 2021
While the pressure from supposedly “respected” members of the baseball media certainly played a role in Spaeder’s decision to retract his accusations, it’s hard to believe that’s the only pressure he received.
It’s more likely that the MLB, the teams he accused, and some players applied pressure by saying they would restrict his access to them if he didn’t take back what he tweeted.
The powers that be in baseball are obviously trying their hardest to crack down on cheating while attempting to avoid another major, international story like the Astros scandal.
But at the same time, Ryan Spaeder was probably right in his instinct to just blow the lid off everything, and get all the stories out there at once so that the sport can address it and move on.
That certainly seems to be a better approach than the MLB’s, which seems to only be making the topic of cheating more prevalent in the conversation surrounding the sport.
At the end of the day, what Spaeder tweeted was probably mostly accurate, at least more accurate than anyone inside the MLB wants to admit.
And baseball really just needs to rip the band-aid off already and not drag this on for years like they did the steroid era.
One would think they would have learned from that nightmare, but obviously that wasn’t the case.
Now, they’re just ensuring that cheating in baseball remains the only thing non-hardcore fans are talking about when they discuss the sport.
As always, the MLB is making the wrong decisions, and they’re simply going to continue making matters worse for themselves.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.