PORT ST. LUCIE — It turns out Doc Gooden has his own Astros sign-stealing story.
This was back in the early-1990s, and it was old-fashioned sign-stealing.
“It’s funny,’’ Gooden told The Post at Clover Park, where he is visiting the Mets. “I had a situation with Steve Finley. When he was hitting, [Craig] Biggio was on second base. Biggio was giving signs to Finley. So what you do is throw one up and in and then you turn around and look at the runner, you send a message. You also had situations where the third-base coach and first-base coach look in [to steal signs] so you knock the hitter down. They know then, [to] cut that out.
“Cheating has been going on forever, and with technology now, it’s just a different level.
“For me personally, I think right now everyone is making too much out of it. Say what you have to say, but let’s get back to playing this beautiful game. The price has been paid, let’s play the game. In a way baseball continues to hurt itself because the attention has been taken away from the game with all this now. Other sports are on the rise and baseball keeps creating their own problems and making them worse. I’m excited about the season starting. That’s the way it should be.’’
The way Gooden sees it, the players, especially the pitchers, have lost the ability to self-police the game, and that has hurt everyone. On-field justice has been lost.
“You used to be able to pitch inside and if you hit someone, in the back or the leg, the message was sent,’’ Gooden said. “That was just part of the game. In my era, the umpire knew what was going on and the runner would just go to first base, no big deal. Now if you throw inside, the umpire can toss you. I think they are giving those guys too much power now. It’s out of the players’ hands now. You can’t pitch inside now and that is unfair to pitchers. The hitters all have the big pads on now. It’s tough.’’
It’s even tougher when signs are stolen electronically.