Signs: Astros and Poodles

It’s been over a week since Major League Baseball released its report on the Houston Astros cheating scandal. If you’ve not heard, the reigning American League Champions had technology positioned to steal signs for the benefit of their batters.

My heart breaks to see baseball going through yet another trying time which hacks away at the integrity of the game, the good men it employs, and the hope of fans. While I’d never venture to defend Houston’s audacious attacks to the credibility of competition, I do have to wonder, how did we get here? As a mother of two young boys, I have never taught them to do a false-start in a foot race or to skip a couple extra squares in a game of Candyland. But they do it. We all want to get ahead. We all want to gain ground in the game of life…at the least expense. 

I remember as a second-grader, many girls in my class were getting together for a slumber party. While I pictured Barbies, junk food, and giggles into the wee hours of the morning, my mom knew there was a slight chance I’d miss my own bed…but never want to say so. We made an Astro-worthy signal. My mom was going to call and check on me, and if I wanted to come home, I was to ask the cue question: “How is Winnie?” It was as easy and as obvious as banging on some trashcan lids in Houston, but totally overlooked by all.

Winnie was our beloved family dog. He was a curly silver poodle, lacking any teeth, and his energy level frequently made us question his cardiac health. Apparently, he was just fine. Winnie and the cue question remained as constants in my childhood through all of my school years. Even while I was in college, my sorority sisters started picking up on the cue as a joke. I remember being at a party, watching my dear friend get swept away to the dance floor and her smiling, twirling, and laughing, yet catching my eye. “Hey, Neena! How’s Winnie?” 

It was the cue. Easy, obvious, and totally overlooked. 

Time to go! We giggled as we got into my Volkswagen Beetle and headed to the Wafflehouse for some quality junk food. 

Sure, my sorority sister’s dance partner probably deserved an explanation for her disappearance. And I might wonder if my boys were normal if they didn’t try to cheat each other sometimes. But when it comes to the world of professional sports, it’s difficult to know where to draw the line if so many lines before it have been blurred. 

It’s a shame sports have been tarnished by the World Series of 1919, the steroid scandal, questionably inflated footballs, basketball point-shaving, and even Little League age fudging. The hard truth is we’ve all done something to get ahead, save face, or win.

If only offering grace were so easy, or if doing the right thing was more obvious, and the true talents and gifts of individuals not overlooked… This fan still hopes!

*Feature Photo by Taylor Rooney on Unsplash

Author: Neena

Neena is a Kentucky wife, mother, and beekeeper. Her first novel, THE BIRD AND THE BEES, is a Christian contemporary romance available now. Visit her at