The Houston Astros reportedly cheated and stole signs the entire season of 2017 – the year they won their one and only World Series championship. Is that true? According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, it sure looks that way.
Allegedly, the Astros stole signs during home games at Minute Maid Park in 2017 with an elaborate scheme involving a camera in center field focused on the catcher’s signals.
Former players come forward
Is it really a big deal to steal signs in baseball? You better believe it is! When a professional hitter knows what the pitcher is going to throw in advance of the pitch, most hitters are going to tear the cover off the ball.
Now, four former players who were with the Astros in 2017, including pitcher Mike Fiers, have told The Athletic that Houston was stealing signs in real-time with the help of a camera in the outfield.
The league is now expected to interview current and former Astros players and employees, according to this shocking revelation.
The Astros; response to this allegation is interesting. They didn’t deny anything. But, of course, they didn’t admit to stealing signs either.
“Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball,” the Astros said, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. “It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time.”
How did this all work?
The sign-stealing setup reportedly involved a camera that was solely focused on the opposing catcher. It was set up in a way where the camera was precisely focused on the signs the catcher was putting down.
That camera’s live feed was reportedly played on a television monitor in the Astros’ dugout. From there, the players would try to figure out the catcher’s signs, – which isn’t hard to do when you are playing every day – thus knowing what the pitcher would throw before he ever released the pitch.
Now, you may ask how would the player batting for Houston know what the pitcher was throwing so quickly?
If the players believed they had figured out the signs they would tell the batter in advance and have a code – such as a loud noise or banging, according to the Athletics’ sources.
Mike Fiers doesn’t care that he played on the 2017 Astros squad. He just wants the truth to be revealed.
“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 explained. “Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It’s (B.S.) on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys.”
Several opponents complained during the 2017 season that when they played at Minute Maid Park, they had a sense something fishy was going on, but it fell on deaf ears.
Former White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar was one of them. Farquhar said multiple times that he heard loud banging during two relief appearances at Minute Maid Park and he knew why.
“There was a banging from the dugout, almost like a bat hitting the bat rack every time a changeup signal got put down,” Farquhar said. “After the third one, I stepped off. I was throwing some really good changeups and they were getting fouled off. After the third bang, I stepped off.”
This video below shows a great example of what the Astros are accused of doing. Warning: it does have a few curse words so if you are at work or around the kids, you may want to put on a headset or turn the volume down.
Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/rncm6qzXxw
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 12, 2019
To add fuel to the fire, the New York Yankees accused the Astros of using whistling to steal signs during the 2019 ALCS. Nothing came out of it except Astros manager AJ Hinch mocking the Yankees.
This evidence, along with the former Astros players coming forward is too big to ignore. It will be interesting to see what the MLB commissioner rules on the matter.