- A new report by The Athletic details an elaborate sign-stealing scheme the Houston Astros allegedly used during the 2017 season.
- According to the report, the Astros used an outfield camera to relay catcher signs to a TV near the dugout. Players and coaches would then reportedly bang on a trash can to tip off batters to upcoming pitches.
- Videos of specific instances in which Houston evidently stole signs have subsequently popped up across the internet, and baseball writer Jimmy O’Brien has broken down some of the clips.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The Houston Astros have been accused of executing an elaborate sign-stealing scheme to gain an unfair – and illegal – competitive advantage during the 2017 season, which ultimately ended in the franchise’s first World Series championship.
According to reporting by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, the Astros used an outfield camera and TV in the locker room tunnel to read opposing teams’ signs. Then, an Astros coach or player would hit a garbage can with a bat to signify when the player at the plate should expect an off-speed pitch.
Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers acknowledged the existence of the scheme to The Athletic.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar told The Athletic that he encountered what he believed to be the system in action in 2017.
“There was a banging from the dugout, almost like a bat hitting the bat rack every time a change-up signal got put down,” Farquhar said. “After the third one, I stepped off. I was throwing some really good changeups and they were getting fouled off.”
Farquhar told The Athletic that he and his catcher changed their signals and the banging stopped.
Baseball writer Jimmy O’Brien identified that very instance.
Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/rncm6qzXxw
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 12, 2019
According to The Athletic, the Astros dugout would be looking for the catcher’s signals. Once they identified the signal, they would bang on the garbage can to tip off the batter.
- via MLB
O’Brien also found more instances that appear to show the Astros executing the scheme. In another example, a bang-bang can be heard in the distance right before the second pitch (about 12 seconds into the video).
Another game vs the WS.
1st pitch fastball: no bang
2nd pitch off speed: bang bang
3rd pitch fastball: no bang pic.twitter.com/NB1CWRh0l9
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 13, 2019
O’Brien found multiple clips that show Astros batters homering after a banging noise signaled an off-speed pitch to swing at.
Bregman down 0-2. gets two offspeed pitches that come with the bang. spits on the first. homers on the second. pic.twitter.com/pM6i0UKgGH
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 13, 2019
MLB is currently investigating the allegations against Houston. According to a follow-up report from Rosenthal and Drellich, the league is likely to interview Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and new New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, both of whom were with the Astros during the 2017 season. According to The Athletic, “sources said both Cora and Beltrán played a key role in devising the sign-stealing system the team used that season.”
The Astros issued a statement on Tuesday in response to The Athletic’s report, saying they are complying with MLB’s investigation.
The Boston Red Sox were fined an undisclosed amount by MLB in 2017 for using an Apple Watch to steal signs. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the time that technology has made it increasingly hard to crack down on such activities. The league said teams found to be in violation of the rules would face steeper consequences than the Red Sox.
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