A Rundown of the Astros Sign-Stealing Scandal

Two years ago, the Houston Astros won the World Series after a great season. The team was full of budding young stars, and it was clear that this group would be a mainstay in the World Series race for years to come. However, the 2017 World Series now has a big asterisk attached to it in the eyes of baseball fans. 

In November of this year, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the MLB had found evidence of electronic sign-stealing dating back to2017. This is a tremendous development, and as more information comes out, the bleaker things look for Houston.

Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers first hinted towards the sign-stealing mechanism while talking to Rosenthal, and The Athletic gathered information to determine the exact setup the Astros used to steal their opponents’ signs. The team set up a camera in center field of their home stadium, Minute Maid Park. This camera recorded a live feed of the game, zoomed onto the opposing catcher’s fingers as he relayed the signs. The camera’s feed would then be shown on a monitor in a room hidden behind Houston’s dugout, with Astros personnel watching to decipher these signs. Once the signals were determined, they would loudly bang a garbage can to let the Houston hitters know what pitch was coming. For example, no bangs would mean a fastball, and any banging would signal an offspeed pitch, with the number of bangs sometimes meaning different offspeed pitches (two bangs for curveball, three for slider, one for changeup, etc.). 

Jomboy, a popular Twitter user who breaks down and analyzes baseball games, was able to find clear video proof of the mechanism at work. In the videos he posted, the banging could clearly be heard, and it is obvious as to what the Astros were doing; There’s no way around it. There was even a picture of the setup that surfaced, exactly how The Athletic described it.

Anyone involved in professional baseball will tell you that sign-stealing is part of the game. However, this type of sign-stealing is different. This was not your typical “just-look-at-the-signs-and-figure-out-what-they-mean” thievery. This was an elaborate plan with an intricate setup involving cameras and other electronics. None of that is “part of the game,” and many MLB players agree. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge reacted to the news by tweeting, “Wait… what?…” Free agent pitcher Kevin Gausman also chimed in with a tweet that read, “This Astros thing is bad!!! Guys lost jobs, got sent down, missed service time bc of how they were hit in HOU. Does anyone really think they only did this in 17? #getreal.”

As more and more information comes out about the issue, the worse it looks for the Astros. Some fans even want their 2017 title taken away, but that may be too extreme. However, the Astros will be punished. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has hinted towards something heavy, but the decision still awaits.