As time goes on, more facts come to light about the Houston Astros and their alleged advanced sign-stealing in the 2017 regular season, postseason, and beyond—something many fans of the Dodgers have been keeping a close eye on.
When the news first broke, it was vague how the Astros accomplished this feat. Many teams had accused them of sign stealing, but were quite sure how it was being done. Some players complained of whistles, or banging sounds during the Astros’ at bats.
Now, there has been some evidence come to light, or at the very least, strong assumptions made as to how Houston achieved this. Some say the Astros had a live-feed of the game, zoomed in on the catcher’s fingers flashing signs, and then relayed that to the batter by either a bullpen catcher making signals in the outfield bullpen; some had that same scenario but with the sign being flashed to someone in the dugout, who would then make a sound like banging or whistling to signal what the pitch was going to be.
Some video watching has also lead some to believe that there was a person inside the dugout watching the live feed, and then passing those signals on, again by banging on something like a trash can.
In the last two days, there has even been some speculation as to whether there was ear pieces and buzzers on players’ batting gloves in use for this scheme. This seems like it would be something that would be too blatant and easier for MLB to catch, but I suppose nothing is beyond the realm of possibility at this point.
Again, take this for what you will. This is a Yankees fan that has an understandable grievance with the Astros. Houston beat the Yankees in seven games in the 2017 ALCS before going on to beat the Dodgers in seven in the World Series.
But this twitter account has done a lot of homework, even going back and watching Houston’s own 2017 World Series DVD and found the evidence in the linked tweet above.
Astros fans dismiss all of these allegations as false, accuse the players who first reported them as just disgruntled ex-players, and wield the common “everyone does it” trope.
It may be true that all MLB teams try to gain an edge by the traditional form of sign stealing, like a runner on second tipping pitches. That is just gamesmanship. These allegations, if true, go above and beyond what true gamesmanship should include.
Not too many Major League players have spoken out about this, besides the players that originally brought these issues to light.
“Teams try everything. I said it a long time ago: it’s time for Major League Baseball to control that part and put a blurry sign where fans are not going to see (catcher’s fingers). If you find out that some teams cheated, they have to pay a big fine or someone is going to be banned forever or they lose their job and can’t be in this game.”
“If anybody is going to watch the game on TV, no fan is going to worry about what sign is being put down. Blur that, nobody is going to see it and we’re not talking about this anymore.”
Kenley, like Clayton Kershaw, has reason to complain that his legacy is forever altered because of this. In four appearances in Los Angeles during the World Series, Jansen threw six innings, allowing one earned run, three hits, and one walk while striking out six. In two appearances in Houston, he pitched two innings, allowed two earned runs including a home run and a walk-off single. While Kenley has not always been perfect, the what-if will always linger.
A week ago I was dubious that any real retribution would be levied against the Astros. But MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had some thoughts on that front. While at the Winter Meetings, Manfred said that he didn’t think that the investigation would extend beyond the Astros to other teams, and that action taken would be some of the toughest seen.
Today, in his closing remarks to the owners, Manfred said “Our clubs, all 30 of them, recognize that the integrity of the competition on the field is crucial to what we do every day. And I think that there’s wide support across the industry for the idea that when we have a problem in this area, there should be firm, serious disciplinary action that discourages people from engaging in this type of behavior.”
He went on to expand his thoughts saying that they would be not only investigating the 2017 season, but the last two seasons as well.
“All I can tell you about that is we are going to investigate the Astros situation as thoroughly as humanly possible,” Manfred said.
“That investigation is going to encompass not only what we know about ’17, but also ’18 and ’19. We are talking to people all over the industry: Employees, competitors. To the extent that we find other leads, we’ll follow these leads.”
It will be quite interesting to watch, and to see how far reaching the punishments go, as Carlos Beltran and Alex Cora, thought to be the masterminds behind the whole scheme, are currently both managers of other Major League teams.
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, it won’t ever be enough for Dodger fans. It won’t give Andre Ethier a ring, it won’t help in boosting Kershaw’s postseason numbers and legacy. It won’t help Yankee fans who thought they also had a great crack at the World Series in 2017, or any number of games in between. And that “what if” is even worse than the normal what might have been, and is probably the greatest travesty of it all. It’s one thing to lose. It’s a whole other thing to know that you might not have had to.