When something bizarre, scandalous, or just plain ridiculous happens in sports, my first thought is, “Can I re-create that in a video game?” And at the outset of this cheating scandal with baseball’s Houston Astros, which you may have heard about, the answer was no: You can’t literally steal the other team’s pitching signals in MLB The Show 19 so that you, as the batter, know what kind of pitch is coming next.
Then came “Buzzergate.”
To recap: This week, a Major League Baseball investigation found that the Astros — who won the World Series in 2017 — deployed an elaborate system of stealing opposing teams’ signs, in this case the hand signals the catcher gives to tell a pitcher what to throw next. Stealing signs on the field, when done by a baserunner watching the pitcher-catcher interaction, for instance, doesn’t break any rule. But what the Astros did sure does.
Their players would watch a video monitor, showing the pitcher from the center-field TV camera, and therefore the catcher’s signs. After decoding them, the Astros would alert their batter if a curveball was coming by whacking a 55-gallon garbage can in the dugout with a baseball bat. Like I said, bizarre, scandalous, and hilarious.
This scheme got Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow suspended for a year by the league, until the team’s owner went ahead and fired them outright. The Astros bench coach who engineered the scheme, Alex Cora, apparently took some of these methods with him to Boston when he managed the Red Sox to a title in 2018. He is now unemployed, and may never manage again. Carlos Beltran, who was a player on the Astros in 2017 and was to manage the New York Mets in the coming season, also lost his job for his role in the cheating.
No active player had been tied up in the cheating until one of those just-quite-believable Twitter conspiracy theories caught fire on Thursday. And that is the “Buzzergate” accusation that Astros players like Jose Altuve and Josh Reddick wore some kind of device underneath their uniform shirts, which someone in the dugout would allegedly activate to tell them what type of pitch was on the way next.
This is where it intersects with MLB The Show 19.
The Show has (and has had, for years) an option that can tip off to the player what pitch is on the way. It’s supposed to emulate the ability of a professional hitter to recognize and react to pitches in ways civilians can’t. The video game player still has to make a correct guess before the pitch, but the feature illustrates, to the layperson, just how devastating it is when a batter knows what’s coming.
A couple of at-bats with my minor leaguer last spring highlight these points. In the method I use — one of several available to a player — I can guess location, I can guess pitch, or I can guess location and pitch. Whatever I try, though, I have to get it exactly right. So if I guess, say, a fastball low and away, and the pitcher is giving me a fastball inside, I won’t get any tipoff.
If I’m guessing just location and get that right, the batting reticle locks to the region of the strike zone in which I guessed. If I guess just the pitch and am correct, the batting reticle expands slightly, giving me a better chance of making solid contact.
Even if I guess wrong, I can still use it to rule out certain things. Guessing outside and get that wrong? OK, don’t look outside. Guess a fastball and the reticle shrinks? Good chance it’s something off-speed, especially if a fastball is the opposing pitcher’s only hard pitch. If it shrinks a lot, it’s probably a big breaking ball.
You see it in the first home run of the video above (30 seconds in). I think I guessed fastball, and he gave me another off-speed pitch. It helped that the Indianapolis pitcher left it nice and fat in the zone, but because I ruled out the straight heat, I was able to wait just long enough to kill it.
This is kind of what the Astros were doing. After their code-talkers in the dugout saw the catcher put down the digits for a curveball, WHAM-WHAM went the trash can: off-speed pitch coming. No whamming, then it’s a fastball. It sounds silly, but it works.
Here’s where the buzzer comes in. In MLB The Show 19, if you guess both location and pitch correctly, an alert sounds and your controller vibrates. Assuming you don’t get too excited and swing early, your chance to hit the ball a long way goes way up. See the second home run of that video (timestamp 1:57):
The reticle locks to the low part of the zone, the bell goes off, and I park it on the lawn. Again, I hit another breaking ball/off-speed pitch, which usually give me fits in MLB The Show, where I tend to swing early at everything. But they give big league hitters fits in real life, too. As Hall-of-Fame pitcher Warren Spahn famously observed, “Hitting is timing. Pitching is destroying timing.” Well, this is what it looks like when you destroy the pitcher’s ability to destroy timing.
Thursday’s Twitter rumor (started by someone claiming to be Beltran’s niece, extra LOL) said some players wore buzzers that could give more sophisticated signals than just beating up a Rubbermaid. Though MLB investigators told the New York Post’s Joel Sherman that they ruled this out (and that they also looked into the 2019 season), it’s hard to make this delicious piece of skulduggery go away so easily.
Hitting a garbage can is silly and funny, but wearing a wire is right out of a movie, so, like many, I Want To Believe. And never forget that this is baseball, where cheating has always had an air of grade-school mischief, whether it’s Gaylord Perry with Crisco all over his uniform or Graig Nettles’ corked bat scattering rubber Super Balls all over the infield.
Players getting all but a text message alert that a curveball is coming, though? That’s still cheating. Except in MLB The Show 19.
Roster File is Polygon’s news and opinion column on the intersection of sports and video games.
Sportsnet announces revised schedule for postponed NHL games – Sportsnet.ca
Sportsnet and the NHL have announced changes to the broadcast schedule for the 2021-22 NHL season. The changes account for a large number of games that were postponed in recent weeks due to a surge of COVID-19 cases across the league.
As a result, the following updates have been made to Sportsnet’s national and regional broadcast schedules. Please note that all times are Eastern.
For the most up-to-date broadcast schedule, please visit our TV Listings page.
For a complete list of every game rescheduled by the NHL on Wednesday, click here.
Monday, Jan. 31
New Jersey at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet
Monday, Feb. 7
Carolina at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet (Rogers Hometown Hockey)
New Jersey at Ottawa, 7 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Rogers Hometown Hockey)
Wednesday, Feb. 9
Chicago at Edmonton, 8 p.m., Sportsnet (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)
Vegas at Calgary, 9:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE
Saturday, Feb. 12
Columbus at Montreal, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Boston at Ottawa, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hometown Hockey)
Toronto at Vancouver, 7 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada and Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi)
Winnipeg at Nashville, 7 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
NY Islanders at Calgary, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
Sunday, Feb. 13
Buffalo at Montreal, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Ottawa at Washington, 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hometown Hockey)
Monday, Feb. 14
Toronto at Seattle, 9 p.m., Sportsnet
Chicago at Winnipeg, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West
Edmonton at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet ONE
Tuesday, Feb. 15
Edmonton at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 16
Minnesota at Winnipeg, 7 p.m., Sportsnet (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)
Anaheim at Calgary, 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 17
Anaheim at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 19
St. Louis at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet and CityTV (Hockey Night in Canada and Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi)
Boston at Ottawa, 7 p.m., Sportsnet ONE (Hockey Night in Canada)
Seattle at Calgary, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
Anaheim at Vancouver, 10 p.m. (Hockey Night in Canada)
Sunday, Feb. 20
Minnesota at Edmonton, 8 p.m., Sportsnet ONE
Monday, Feb. 21
Toronto at Montreal, 7 p.m., Sportsnet
Seattle at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet
Wednesday, Feb. 23
Buffalo at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Monday, March 7
Toronto at Columbus, 7 p.m., Sportsnet
Edmonton at Calgary, 9:30 p.m., Sportsnet
Monday, April 4
Toronto at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m., Sportsnet
Monday, April 18
Calgary at Chicago, 8 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Dallas at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet (Hometown Hockey)
Wednesday, April 27
Montreal at NY Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey)
Tuesday, Feb. 8
Vegas at Edmonton, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)
Arizona at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)
Wednesday, Feb. 9
NY Islanders at Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)
Thursday, Feb. 10
Toronto at Calgary, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Friday, Feb. 11
NY Islanders at Edmonton, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)
Tuesday, Feb. 15
Columbus at Calgary, 9 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Thursday, Feb. 17
Pittsburgh at Toronto, 7 p.m., Sportsnet Ontario (Maple Leafs region)
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)
Saturday, Feb. 19
Edmonton at Winnipeg, 4 p.m., Sportsnet West (Oilers region)
Monday, Feb. 21
Winnipeg at Calgary, 4 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Tuesday, Feb. 22
Toronto at Columbus, 7 p.m., Sportsnet Ontario (Maple Leafs region)
Tuesday, April 19
Calgary at Nashville, 8 p.m., Sportsnet West (Flames region)
Ottawa at Vancouver, 10 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific (Canucks region)
'Strongest team in all of snowboarding': Canadian squad named for Beijing Olympics – CBC Sports
Canadian snowboarders brought home four medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
The team looking to build on that number was announced by Canada Snowboard on Wednesday, including all four previous medallists — Sébastien Toutant (the lone gold medallist), Max Parrot, Mark McMorris and Laurie Blouin.
Joining them in slopestyle and big air are Darcy Sharpe, Brooke Voigt and Jasmine Baird. Meanwhile, the halfpipe team features Derek Livingston, Brooke D’Hondt and Elizabeth Hosking.
Missing from that list is Liam Brearley, the emerging 18-year-old who won a medal in all three disciplines at the 2020 Youth Olympics. Brearley, of Gravenhurst, Ont., was victim of a roster crunch, as Canada earned the maximum four quota spots in slopestyle and big air.
Megan Farrell and Arnaud Gaudet will compete in parallel giant slalom, while the snowboard cross squad includes Zoe Bergermann, Tess Critchlow, Meryeta O’Dine, Audrey McManiman, Eliot Grondin, Kevin Hill and Liam Moffatt.
CBC snowboard analyst Craig McMorris, the older brother of Mark McMorris, said the Canadians should be a force.
“I think it is the strongest team in all of snowboarding, especially in male slopestyle and big air with Max Parrot, Sebastien Toutant and Mark McMorris all returning for their third Games. The skill is there. And the veteran wisdom and experience is there as well,” he said.
The omission of Brearley reveals the overwhelming strength of the men’s slopestyle and big air squad. Toutant and McMorris both sit in the top five of World Snowboard’s slopestyle ranking, while Parrot is ranked first and McMorris fifth in big air.
Parrot pre-qualified for the Olympic team before the season began in October, with the stipulation that he remain in the top-30 of rankings. He has since not competed in World Cup races, freezing his ranking in place.
The final decision may have come down to Sharpe vs. Brearley, with each similarly ranked in the two disciplines.
“[Sharpe] was out for a long time and his points freeze, then he comes back and his points unfreeze but then he gets COVID so he can’t compete, and that was crucial in deciding the team. So I feel like it was an extremely, extremely tough job,” McMorris said.
WATCH | Mark McMorris discusses difficulties of qualifying in pandemic:
Parrot, the Bromont, Que., native who won slopestyle silver in 2018, is a recent cancer survivor.
The 27-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma about 10 months after the Olympics but returned to competition less than a year later, winning X Games big air gold in the process.
Mark McMorris, the 28-year-old from Regina, enters his third Games looking to upgrade on the bronze he won each of the past two times — this time free of a near-fatal crash directly in his rearview mirror.
Toutant, 29, of L’Assomption, Que., experienced an eventful Pyeongchang Olympics as he recovered from a last-place finish in slopestyle to become the big air champion.
WATCH | CBC Sports’ Returning Champions series features Sébastien Toutant:
Blouin back for more
On the women’s side, Blouin, 25, overcame some adversity in Pyeongchang herself after a crash in training left her participation in the Games at all in question.
But the Quebec City native bounced back in a big way en route to earning slopestyle silver.
“I’m really happy, it seems like 2018 was yesterday and now it’s crazy that we’re already looking ahead to the next Olympics,” Blouin said.
Along with McMorris and Sharpe, Blouin is set to compete at the winter X Games beginning Friday in Aspen, Colo., as part of her Olympic tuneup.
WATCH | Blouin takes slopestyle bronze at Calgary World Cup:
D’Hondt, 16, is projected to be the youngest Canadian athlete in Beijing.
“It doesn’t feel real yet. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and couldn’t be more excited to represent my country in Beijing,” D’Hondt said.
Meanwhile, Craig McMorris suggested that Baird, the 22-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., could be an emerging star for Canada.
“I don’t think she has the tricks to be on the podium yet, but she’s still super young. So I think after these Games, if she still keeps going and training at the rate she is and learning, I think she’ll definitely be a threat in 2026,” he said.
- Brooke D’Hondt — Calgary (halfpipe)
- Elizabeth Hosking — Longueuil, Que. (halfpipe)
- Megan Farrell — Richmond Hill, Ont. (parallel giant slalom)
- Jasmine Baird — Georgetown, Ont. (slopestyle/big air)
- Laurie Blouin— Québec City (slopestyle/big air)
- Brooke Voigt — Fort McMurray, Alta. (slopestyle/big air)
- Zoe Bergermann — Erin, Ont. (snowboard cross)
- Tess Critchlow — Big White, B.C. (snowboard cross)
- Meryeta O’Dine — Prince George, B.C. (snowboard cross)
- Audrey McManiman — St-Ambroise-de-Kildare, Que. (snowboard cross)
- Derek Livingston — Aurora, Ont. (halfpipe)
- Arnaud Gaudet — Montcalm, Que. (parallel giant slalom)
- Mark McMorris — Regina (slopestyle/big air)
- Max Parrot — Bromont, Que. (slopestyle/big air)
- Darcy Sharpe — Comox, B.C. (slopestyle/big air)
- Sébastien Toutant — L’Assomption, Que. (slopestyle/big air)
- Eliot Grondin — Sainte-Marie, Que. (snowboard cross)
- Kevin Hill — Vernon, B.C. (snowboard cross)
- Liam Moffatt — Truro, N.S. (snowboard cross)
Shapovalov rallies to win second-round match at Australian Open – Sportsnet.ca
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov is heading to the third round of the Australian Open for the third time in the past four years after notching a come-from-behind victory on Wednesday.
Shapovalov survives in five
@denis_shapo prevails in an epic 7-6(6) 6-7(3) 6-7(6) 7-5 6-2 battle with Soonwoo Kwon after four hours and 25 minutes!#AusOpen #AO2022
: @wwos • @espn @eurosport @wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/OvOtSIOMdh
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 19, 2022
The No. 14 seed, from Richmond Hill, Ont., rallied for a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-2 win over world No. 54 Kwon Soon-woo of South Korea.
The match lasted four hours 25 minutes.
After failing to convert on two set points in the third set, Shapovalov broke his opponent in the final game of the fourth set and did so again to take a 2-0 lead in the decider.
“It was difficult getting over the second and third set because I had a lot of chances in both sets,” Shapovalov said. “Lot of opportunities that just weren’t going my way. But I did a good job of flipping the script, kept fighting and I was really happy to get away with it.”
Shapovalov had 29 aces, 26 more than Kwon. The Canadian had 81 winners, but also made 77 unforced errors.
Shapovalov will face No. 23 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States in the third round. Shapovalov never has advanced past the third round at the first Grand Slam of the season.
No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal plays his second-round match on Thursday against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.
No Canadian women are left in the singles draw after Leylah Fernandez and Rebecca Marino lost in the first round on Tuesday.
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