Astros Cheating Scandal


Courtesy of Newsweek

Aliyah Hernandez, Staff Writer

Three months ago, former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers accused the Astros of cheating during the 2017 World Series. Since then, other teams such as the Boston Red Sox have been accused of illegally using electronic devices to decode catcher’s signs during the 2018 World Series championship.

You may be wondering, what’s the big deal with teams using technology to steal signs? In baseball, signs are usually hand signals given by the opposing pitcher and catcher to secretly communicate which ball the pitcher will throw. These signs are usually simple things such as pointing or moving your hand around while the batter gets ready to bat. By stealing signs, the opposing team is trying to decode the signals in order to get an advantage to successfully hit the ball the pitcher is planning to throw.

What’s the big deal?

Throughout baseball history, players have been stealing signs in order to get ahead of the game. In 1897, Philadelphia Phillies manager George Stallings had backup catcher Morgan Murphy hide in a clubhouse beyond centerfield and use a pair of binoculars and telegrams to alert Stallings of the signs the opposing catcher was doing. In 1990, Phillies manager Pearce Chiles was caught with a box of electric wires that relayed messages to him, alerting him of the signs for the oncoming pitch. In 2001, New York Giants players from the 1951 team admitted to stealing signs from the Brooklyn Dodgers by using a telescope. Even in 2017, the Boston Red Sox were caught stealing sign against the New York Yankees by using an Apple Watch.

How the Astros cheated:

According to Mike Fiers, who is now hated by many Astros fans, the Astros used a camera positioned at center field at Minute Maid Park. The camera was then used in a replay room where the camera operators would inform former manager AJ Hinch whether to challenge an umpire’s call. Former Astros bench coach (and now former manager of the Boston Red Sox) Alex Cora would then inform one player of the decoded sign, which would be presented to the other players.

Players would also bang trashcans together to alert their batter of the oncoming pitch. One or two bangs usually meant that there was an off speed ball while no bangs meant there was a fastball.

What comes next?

After months of investigation, the MLB has decided the Astro’s punishment, which is now the harshest punishment given to a team in MLB history. The Astros had to fire their manager and general manager, pay a fine of five million dollars, and forfeit their 2020 and 2021 first and second round draft picks.

Though stealing signs normalized in baseball, the MLB has warned the teams about sign stealing in 2017. With the Astros cheating, the teams are not only tainting their reputation but also their creditability as World Series Champions.