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Triple Play: How The MLB Might Tweak Its Playoff Format, Plus New Report Explores Astros Sign-Stealing Tool “Codebreaker”

Mike Bolsinger, then of the Los Angeles Dodgers, at Dodger Stadium May 24, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.
Mike Bolsinger, then of the Los Angeles Dodgers, at Dodger Stadium May 24, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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It’s been a busy week for baseball and its fans following the blockbuster trade last week that sent Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

First, the Wall Street Journal published an in-depth piece by baseball writer Jared Diamond looking at the tool that the Houston Astros front office used to steal signs from opposing catchers. The Excel application dubbed “Codebreaker” is detailed in a letter that The Wall Street Journal reviewed which was sent from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to the Astros then-general manager Jeff Luhnow. MLB suspended Luhnow and Astros manager A.J. Hinch a little more than a week after the letter was sent, and the Astros summarily dismissed both men from their positions with the organization. “Codebreaker’s” concept was pretty simple -- someone would input data on the signs a catcher was giving and which pitch actually ended up being thrown and the algorithm would spit out information that explained how signs and pitches corresponded with one another. From there, that info could be relayed to the dugout, then to a runner on base and ultimately to the batter at the plate.

Then, on Monday, a new wrinkle appeared in the scandal when former MLB pitcher Mike Bolsinger, who spent some time with the Dodgers, filed suit against the Astros in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that he was the victim of sign-stealing during a pitching performance in August of 2017 during which he was shelled so badly he lost his MLB job and hasn’t been able to get any offers since. On a completely different subject, Major League Baseball also raised a few eyebrows on Monday when reports surfaced that it was considering changes to its current playoff format that would include expanding the number of teams that qualify from 10 to 14 and even allowing certain teams to choose their first round opponent. The current collective bargaining agreement between the league and players expires in 2021 and any sweeping changes to the playoff format would need to be negotiated, but the proposal drew a mixed bag of reactions from across the league, including from one MLB pitcher who called Commissioner Manfred a “joke” in a tweet.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll convene the “Triple Play” to take a look at the new reporting on the Astros scandal and get reaction on the proposed changes to the playoff format.


A Martinez, host of KPCC’s “Take Two”; he tweets @amartinezLA

Nick Roman, host of KPCC’s “All Things Considered”; he tweets @RomanOnTheRadio