In November, the Athletics’ Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal published an article detailing how the Houston Astros electronically stole signs during their 2017 World Series championship season. Current Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers who spent parts of three seasons with the Astros, officially declared his former team had a technology-driven sign-stealing scheme in 2017.
Shortly after the article was published, mlb launched an investigation. Commissioner Rob Manfred published his findings on January 1. 13, and the league punished the Stars for electronically stealing signs during their World Series title run in 2017 and part of the 2018 season. Houston was fined $5 million and forfeited first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021. manager a.j. hinch and gm jeff luhnow received one-year suspensions from the league before they were both fired by the astros.
Here’s more to know about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and MLB’s sanctions against the team.
what did the stars do?
As noted in the introduction, the Astros used a camera located in center field to steal signs during games. team personnel watched the broadcast in a hallway between the clubhouse and the dugout, broadcasting what awaited the batter hitting a trash can. you can see for yourself right here.
MLB’s investigation revealed that the Astros initially developed a system using illegal electronics to decipher the signals so that a runner on second base could transmit the signal to the batter. Houston first attempted to whistle and clap to convey signals from the dugout before deciding to hit a trash can. mlb’s report says the stars stole signs during the 2017 regular season and postseason, and also in early 2018.
why was it so important?
because it’s against the rules, and not just in the “unwritten” sense, like old-school sign-stealing. baseball took explicit steps to ban this type of behavior heading into the 2019 season, limiting the amount of live streaming access available to teams and not allowing internal cameras between foul poles. mlb first warned teams against high-tech sign theft in September 2017 and issued several reminders in 2018 and 2019.
what were the houston sanctions?
there were five important penalties for the stars from manfred. here they are:
· manager a.j. hinch suspended for the 2020 season. hinch was then fired by the astros. gm jeff luhnow suspended for the 2020 season. luhnow was then fired by the astros. the former assistant general manager brandon taubman suspended one year.· astros lose their first and second round picks in the next two years.· astros fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under the mlb constitution.
mlb’s report says the stars can’t get around the draft pick penalty through free agent compensation or any other means. if they give up high picks to sign free agents, they will lose picks the following year. One way or another, the Stars will lose their next two first-round picks and their next two second-round picks.
what about the players involved?
mlb commissioner rob manfred decided that he would not impose any disciplinary action on players involved in the astros’ sign-stealing scheme. There are three reasons for this:
- mlb promised players immunity in exchange for their cooperation during the investigation.
- manfred released a memo in 2017 warning teams that the GM and manager would be held accountable for such allegations of sign-stealing.
- Manfred said disciplining players is “impractical” because it would be difficult to assign proper blame.
red sox manager alex cora, who was the only non-player mentioned by name in the summary report, is still awaiting his punishment from the league as boston is currently under investigation for a robbery plot. signals own championship 2018. season. A day after the firings of Luhnow and Hinch, the Red Sox announced that they were parting ways with Cora.
mets manager carlos beltrán was the only player from the 2017 astros mentioned in manfred’s report. he and the mets parted ways the day after the red sox moved hearts.
don’t other teams do this?
It is logical that all teams try to steal signs. that’s part of the game. the problem is how the signals are stolen, and that the stars took things too far in their search for an advantage. manfred’s report even said that the astro players knew what they were doing and went overboard.
Still, it should be noted that the Astros aren’t the only team to cross the line. The Red Sox have since been embroiled in a different sign-stealing scandal, this one involving the use of their replay review room during their 2018 World Series title campaign.
There have certainly been other instances over the years where teams have stolen signs using technology that went undetected and unreported. The Astros may be the last team eliminated, but they won’t be the last.