- The 2017 Houston Astros’ sign-stealing operation was cheating.
- Lifetime bans need to be handed out to those that developed, ran, and authorized the high-tech sign-stealing operation.
- Those most deserving of lifetime bans are Alex Cora, Carlos Beltran, A.J. Hinch, and Jeff Luhnow
The Houston Astros are embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal, a controversy that is so outrageous that lifetime bans seem to be the only option. The 2017 World Championship team is undoubtedly implicated. The 2018 team as well as the 2019 team that just made it to the World Series are also under a high level of scrutiny.
AJ Hinch, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran deciding who they’re gonna blame for stealing signs pic.twitter.com/tn00TPkhWx
— Jake Montgomery (@JakeM0NTGOMERY) November 14, 2019
Sign-stealing wouldn’t usually call for lifetime bans, but in this case it is warranted because of the extensive use of technology. The 2017 World Champion Houston Astros, or Houston Asterisks as they are now commonly referred to on the internet, are accused of setting up long-range cameras in the outfield of their home ballpark. These cameras would relay a feed to a monitor. This monitor was then placed in the hallway between the dugout and the team clubhouse. Depending on the sign displayed by the opposing team’s catcher, a trash can lid was banged to alert the hitter at the plate which pitch was inbound. At this point, it seems the trash can lid was banged to indicate if the pitch in question was an offs-peed pitch.
The trash can banging was very suspicious, and evidence of it has been pointed out by many Twitter users.
Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/rncm6qzXxw
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 12, 2019
The Asterisks were then forced to come up with progressively sneakier methods. Reddit user u/meme-engineer, who somehow correctly predicted the sign-stealing scandal 21 days before the story broke on The Athletic, has even suggested that some players had a vibration device in their cleats, saying:
Then that person will relay a signal to a device that the batters wear in their cleats that vibrate in a pattern according to what pitch it is (example: vibrate once for fastball, twice for off-speed).
Culture of Sign-Stealing
This type of cheating in baseball cannot stand. Sure, sign stealing has always been part of baseball culture. However, in the past, it required a player to first get to second base and then use their own two eyes. This reliance on technology in regards to sign-stealing has totally introduced a whole new element. Teams are employing technology in an ever-increasing dubious manner to try to gain an edge over each other. Soon the sport of baseball itself could be tarnished in a race to the bottom.
MLB has already had two scandals related to technology. The Boston Red Sox got busted for using Apple Watches to steal signs in 2017. In 2016, members of the St. Louis Cardinals were caught hacking into, ironically, the Houston Astros’ player personnel database and email system.
The punishment, in this case, needs to be severe. Very severe. Severe punishment would serve a twofold purpose. First, it would actually provide a welcome sense of justice. Second, it would set the precedent that teams can’t use technology to cheat. The other incidents involving baseball, cheating, and technology have failed to impart this lesson.
AJ Hinch, Alex Cora & Carlos Beltran have emerged as central figures in Houston's sign-stealing scheme, according to reports. pic.twitter.com/5FnqZMUOjz
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 14, 2019
Lifetime bans need to be handed out. The two individuals most desiring of lifetime bans, funny enough, are no longer on the Houston Asterisks. Alex Cora is the current Boston Red Sox manager and was the 2017 Houston Asterisks’ bench coach. Carlos Beltran, a player on the 2017 Asterisks, has since retired and taken a job managing the New York Mets. Per Bleacher Report:
Sources said both Cora and Beltran played a key role in devising the sign-stealing system the team used that season.
As the head of this operation, they are the most deserving of lifetime bans. Lifetime bans also need to be handed out to A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow. It is impossible they were not aware of the sign-stealing operation. They knew of it and did nothing to stop it.
The scandal could even go up to President of Baseball Operations Reid Ryan and Owner and Chairman Jim Crane. If they knew of it and did nothing to stop it, they are also deserving of lifetime bans. Stars like Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve may also be worthy of lifetime bans if they are found to be two of the players with a vibration device in their cleats. As it stands now, the MLB needs to do a thorough and expedient investigation.