Houston Astros’ cheatin’ ways

An investigation by the MLB concluded that the Houston Astros cheated by stealing signs during the 2017 season and playoffs, as well as part of the 2018 season.

Commissioner Rob Manfred came down hard on the team, handing out:

  • one-year suspensions for general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch
  • revoked first- and second-round draft picks from 2020 and 2021
  • a $5 million fine, which is the highest allowable by MLB rules

Then, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Luhnow and Hinch to give his team a “clean start.”

Additionally,  Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox and Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets lost management jobs.Both were members of the Astros at the time the sign stealing took place.

okay, what is sign stealing?

Sign stealing is decoding the hand signals that are sent to the pitcher to indicate the type of ball he should send.

why steal signs?

You’re at bat: if you know what’s getting pitched, you have a huge competitive advantage. Some pitches are so fast they require a swing that starts before the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand.

sign stealing is part of baseball

A runner on second base tries to figure out what the pitcher’s about to throw so he can then let his batter know what’s coming. A coach watches closely for signals that he can pass on to his batter. In wrestling, the coach sees a wrestler set up for a move, he’s going to shout it out it so his guy is ready to defend it. That’s looking for a competitive advantage.

Stealing signs has always been part of baseball and some of it’s okay: you can steal signs by watching with your own eyes. But, you can’t steal signs using technology. Geek out on a short explanation of the rules here.

then why did the Astros get in trouble

The Astros used the center field camera–in the park for replay purposes–to watch the pitcher’s signs. Camera images were transmitted to a monitor that was set up in a hallway by the dugout. The sign was interpreted–maybe a fast ball or a breaking pitch was coming–and the information was made available to the batter by a bang on a trash can.

what was at stake

The Astros won plenty of games during the regular season and playoffs, as well as the World Series.

Should the Astros have had their title stripped? Tim and Laura take sides on this one. Check out the debate here.

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