Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros have been dragged into a cheating scandal after a bombshell report accused the team of stealing signs during their 2017 World Series-winning campaign.
The Athletic ’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported the stunning claims with former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers one of the four players who accused the team of illegally stealing signs.
Sign stealing has been an issue throughout the history of the MLB and occurs when a team decodes and relays the catcher’s signal to the batter.
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While usually done by a player on second base, the Astros have been accused of using a camera in the outfield trained on the catcher. The act is generally frowned upon and doing so with the help of electronic equipment makes it an illegal act in the league.
The Athletic has reported allegations of the Astros sign stealing in 2017 — the same season the Astros won the World Series — while other publications believe it is still ongoing.
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and new New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran are also alleged to have played a role in establishing the program when they worked with Astros manager AJ Hinch’s team.
Cora was the bench coach in 2017 and Beltran was a player.
The practice was said to go into the 2017 playoffs, helping the team in home games.
George Springer hit a two-run home run during game seven of the 2017 World Series.Source:AFP
The Astros declined to comment before the story was published but soon issued a statement that read: “Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organisation has begun an investigation in co-operation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time.”
The Astros reportedly had a camera in centre field, fixed on the opposing catcher’s signs which was connected to a TV monitor in the home dugout before sharing the information by banging on a garbage can.
Jomboy Media’s Jimmy O’Brien even seemed to have found an example of sign stealing in action.
Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/rncm6qzXxw
Fiers also said he passed the information of what the Astros were doing to the teams he went to after Houston — the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s.
“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said.
“Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It’s bulls*** on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys.
“The guys who know are more prepared. But most people don’t. That’s why I told my team. We had a lot of young guys with Detroit (in 2018) trying to make a name and establish themselves. I wanted to help them out and say, ‘Hey, this stuff really does go on. Just be prepared’.”
Justin Verlander was questioned by AP but kept quiet.Source:AFP
One major league manager said: “It’s an issue that permeates through the whole league. The league has done a very poor job of policing or discouraging it.”
The last time a sign stealing scandal was punished was in 2017 when the Red Sox were fined an undisclosed amount for using Apple Watches to swipe signals from the New York Yankees, while the Yankees paid a smaller, undisclosed amount for improper usage of a dugout phone.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement at the time that “future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks”.
While it is unlikely the Astros will be forced to give up their World Series win, with the penalty likely to be a fine or the loss of draft picks, the issue has infuriated the league and damaged the team’s reputation, according to several reports.
Yankees boss Brian Cashman, speaking to reporters at the general managers’ meetings in Arizona during the week, declined to comment directly on the allegations.
However, Cashman said teams who cheat should face “consequences”.
“You decide to play by the rules, or you don’t,” Cashman said. “And if you don’t, there’s consequences. You’re putting yourself at risk whether it’s future employment, current employment, or sanctions or what have you.
“It’s not a technology question as much as how you want to operate.”
The scandal has sent shockwaves across the league with Yankee star Aaron Judge issuing a stunned response.
Wait… what….? https://t.co/z4i9MHTAVr
The team the Astros defeated in the 2017 World Series, the LA Dodgers, refused to weigh in on the story.
The Dodgers lost the World Series in Game 7 at their home ground.
“It’s speculation for me at this point,’’ Dodgers president Andrew Friedman said. “There was scuttlebutt about it being beyond just the things at home. I don’t know the answer. This is more for Major League Baseball than it is for me.
“From our standpoint, being one of the teams involved, it sounds like sour grapes for us to comment too much on this.
“I’m a person who looks forward way more than I look back, so it’s not something that has been front of mind for me. It’s not productive.’’
The Astros dugout was a bit quieter in 2019.Source:AFP
While it was not known whether the Astros were still sign stealing in 2019, the Washington Nationals had plans to overcome any sign steaming that may have happened.
Speaking to The Washington Post, the Nationals revealed they had multiple signals with each pitcher having their own set of signs with the catchers needing to be familiar with each players’ sets of signals.
It was far from the only reactions as the news rocked and baffled fans.
You can think the Astros are deplorable for cheating the way they did.
You can think Fiers acted like a bum for collecting a ring, money and waiting for 2 years to talk.
It can be both. It is for me. https://t.co/hxaLiIcKuP
One question the Astros cheating scandal … that “banging” is so damn noticeable that doing it for 9 consecutive innings game after game … how could no one else have heard it? Especially the umpire or the catcher? It would have drove me nuts.
The weirdest part about this Astros' cheating thing: Imagine having that much talent on your roster and thinking you need another advantage?
Yes @MLB must find some answers concerning the allegations that the @astros were cheating . If proven trie they must punish severely . The Integrity of the game is being questioned .Not healthy for the game . https://t.co/xuIvBIRDY5
Love to wake up and see Astros fans claiming there's no rule against stealing signs with a camera and/or claiming that they couldn't POSSIBLY be cheating because if they were, they would never have lost.
Fandom, man. Not even once.
The murmurs of the Houston Astros stealing signs has been around for awhile, but the video evidence by @Jomboy_ just flat out pisses me off
Remember in ‘Casino’ when the guys got caught cheating? ???
Take care of this, @MLB pic.twitter.com/u2ytXwDawQ
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