By AJ Stewart Contributing Writer
The Astros misfortune has dwelled into this year’s off-season. Just a few weeks after their disappointing game 7 loss to the Bryce Harper-less Washington Nationals an old friend decided to blow the whistle on their little procedures down south.
The Athletic had Mike Fiers the only named whistleblower of 4 former Astro’s employees quoted about the incident. Fiers said that the team had a camera in centerfield of Minute Maid Park monitoring the catcher’s signals, once they believed they figured out what the next pitch was the dugout did unique things to signal the batter.
For example, if it were a breaking ball or an off-speed pitch the Astros personnel would bang loudly on trash cans for the batter to prepare himself on the next pitch. Mike Fiers is the only named whistleblower as the three other names have not come to light just yet.
As serious as sign stealing is there is actually no mention of it in the rule book. It’s almost an unspoken rule that some take more seriously than others.
With that, said sign stealing is technically legal but very frowned upon and unsportsmanlike. Using electronic devices to steal signs is illegal in the rule book and the Red Sox fell victim to an investigation recently where they used an iWatch to relay signs and they got caught for it.
In my opinion I believe other major league clubs do the same thing, the Astros are just the one team that happened to hire non-loyal personnel.
The MLB has launched a full investigation into the accusations by Fiers and it is currently still being investigated with no new details emerging at this time. Just recently there is a clip from the 2017 World Series, in which the Astros won, that possibly shows the setup that Houston had just below the steps of the dugout where they would watch the catchers signals and relay to the personnel standing near the trash can signal to inform the hitter.
Ironically, last season the Cleveland Indians warned the Red Sox that security caught Astro employees photographing different things in the Indians dugout in an attempt to gain advantage over them.
Carlos Beltran a member of that 2017 championship club and the Mets new skipper admitted that they did steal signs but not by using a camera. They did it the old-fashioned way and studied their opponents on a daily basis.
Also, an Astros front-office executive reportedly sent an email to their scouts telling them to find the best ways to steal signs and to steal them when they can. There are numerous phone calls as well as messages in a group on their Slack channel where the discussion of sign stealing took place.
Rob Manfred said there is no timetable for the investigation, and he will be stern on whatever punishment may come from the outcome of the investigation. Some fans are calling for the Astros to be stripped of their championship, which is a little far-fetched.
I’m sure there will be a large fine similar to the two million-dollar fine the Cardinals received in their tampering case. The Astros will most likely lose a few draft picks as well if they are found guilty in the MLB investigation.
With baseball winter meetings approaching fast this will be one big hot topic that hopefully gets resolved before we get back to baseball in February.