HOUSTON ASTROS’ SIGN-STEALING IS BASEBALL’S NEWEST SCANDAL
In a sport that has been historically plagued by cheating, the Houston Astros are in the middle of another scandal. This scandal accuses the Astros for using cameras to steal opposing team’s pitching signs during the 2017 season. The Astros ended up winning the World Series in 2017 and were the runners-up in the 2019 World Series.
In an article written by The Athletic in November 2019, former Astros pitchers Mike Fiers said that Astros hitters stole signs with the help of a camera placed in the outfield. This article sparked an investigation by the Astros and the MLB.
On January 13th, the MLB gave a 1-year suspension to Astros Manager A.J Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow. They also fined the Astros $5 million and suspended their first and second round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. After the suspension came out, the Astros owner fired Hinch and Luhnow.
The investigation also led to firings in two other major league clubs. Current Boston Red Sox manager and former Astros bench coach Alex Cora was involved in the decoding of signs, which led to him and the Red Sox to part ways. Former Astros player Carlos Beltran, who was hired to be the next manager of the New York Mets, was fired after he was the first player to be called out by name in the investigation.
According to an article by The Wall Street Journal, the sign-stealing operation, known as “Codebreaker” started as early as the 2016 season. The operation resulted from a feed from the camera that was placed in center field. The feed was placed on a monitor near the dugout.
From there, an Astros employee would signal to the batter what type of pitch was coming. During the regular season, a trash can bang was heard on television broadcasts when off speed pitches were coming. There is speculation that other signals may be used, such as buzzers placed on bandages under their jersey or on the end of their bat.
Many players are upset that no current Astros players who benefitted from the sign-stealing faced any penalty. Stars from baseball and other sports weighed in on what the Astros were doing.
Lebron James said in a tweet, “Listen I know I don’t play baseball, but I am in Sports and I know if someone cheated me out of winning the title and I found out about it I would be [expletive] irate!”
“You cheated and you didn’t earn it,” New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said. “That’s how I feel. It wasn’t earned. It wasn’t earned the way of playing the game right and fighting to the end and knowing that we’re competing, we’re competitors.”
The Yankees lost to the Astros in the 2017 and 2019 American League Championship series. Judge also finished second to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve in the 2017 AL MVP voting. Altuve has received no punishment from his involvement.
Some Astros players believe that the sign-stealing did not violate the integrity of the game. Astros all-star shortstop Carlos Correa said, “When you analyze the games, we won fair and square. We earned that championship.”
In the end, this will follow the Astros. In their first spring training game on Saturday, the crowd heavily booed the Astros. It seems as if nobody in baseball likes this organization and you will hear it wherever they travel to this year. All eyes will be on them this year as their 2020 season begins soon.