Four firings, trash cans, and accusations: How sign stealing took over the baseball world

William Toner, Staff Writer

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By William Toner

Ask any professional baseball player and he will tell you if a pitcher and catcher are sloppy with their signs, it’s okay to relay them to teammates. Now take that and add a camera in center field, an employee in the dugout, a monitor, and a trash can, and you now have the 2017 Astros who went on to win the World Series that year.

Involved in all of this bunkum was Astros manager AJ Hinch, bench coach Alex Cora, and then-player Carlos Beltran. These allegations began in November when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, now with the Athletics, went public with accusations that the Astros had a camera in center field which would relay to a monitor in the dugout where an employee would loudly bang on a trash can a certain number of times based on the pitch that was being thrown.

As karma would have it, MLB conducted a two-month investigation and what they found shocked and befuddled those surrounding the game of baseball.

MLB found that the Astros did this for the entirety of the 2017 season and well into 2018. As a result, MLB suspended Astros manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow from baseball for one year. Later that day it was reported that the Astros had decided to part ways with both of them. Major League Baseball also fined the organization a record $5 million dollars and took away their first and second round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.

The next day it was revealed that the Red Sox may have replicated these allegations in 2018, the year they won the World Series under Alex Cora, the 2017 Astros bench coach, as manager. No suspension or fine had been handed down to Cora when the Red Sox relieved their manager of his duties.

It was later conspired by a large majority around the game of baseball, due to visual evidence, that Astros infielder Jose Altuve may have had a buzzer beneath his jersey, a device which would tell him what pitch was coming based on the number of buzzes.

Recently, the Astros announced that during media days at Spring Training, the players who participated in the original scandal will be apologizing for their role in the controversy.

Now if MLB wanted to lay down the law on the Astros, they ought to at least put an asterisk by the 2017 Astros World Series title. The current punishment isn’t enough.