Both foreshadowed on this very site in the past month, the Houston Astros and Golden State Warriors are both former champions of their realms that are now being disgraced in current times.
During the Astros-Yankees ALCS this year I wrote about the rumors surrounding the Astros illegal sign-stealing. Well, just in this past week The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal broke an official story that the Astros’ antics aren’t just a rumor. The article is behind a paywall, but includes corroboration by former Astros (and current Athletics) pitcher Mike Fiers. Allegedly, the Astros were using at least one camera in center field to relay what pitch was coming to their batter through a series of sounds, often including banging on a dugout trash can.
In recent days, former pitcher Danny Farquhar also spoke about his experience facing the Astros. A breakdown video of Farquhar’s appearance on September 21st, 2017 as a member of the White Sox highlights evidence of the tactics that the Astros used. The video is shown below. Viewer discretion is advised, the gentleman who put up the video does use foul language.
I also wrote about how while its was pretty apparent that the Astros were doing this, it wasn’t very helpful to them in their endeavors to win baseball games. Minute Maid Park may have more spy cameras than a Mission Impossible film, but the Astros have been just as good of a hitting team on the road during their 3 year run of dominance as they have been when their abilities have been… technologically enhanced… at home.
Meanwhile, other teams are livid. They want to drag the Astros through the mud for this. Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow was met very coldly this past week at the annual off-season GM meetings. Players have gone on to mocking the Astros on social media and the like, including Cleveland’s own Mike Clevinger (also notice that the first 4 replies to the tweet belong to Logan Allen, Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Marcus Stroman).
My concern though is that Rosenthal alluded that the Astros weren’t the only team using illegal means to steal signs. Everyone is ignoring the “Part of a Much Broader Issue” portion of the headline. The Boston Red Sox have already been punished in 2017 for illegally using Apple Watches. There are now rumors about other teams as well. What are the chances that some of these players and executives will be eating crow when their own organizations get popped for doing similarly? Major League Baseball is investigating the entire situation, including interviews with Houston staff, Red Sox manager Alex Cora and former Astro and newly-named Mets manager Carlos Beltran.
Punishments are coming. We just don’t know how severe they will be yet or who will face them. I would not be surprised to see the Astros face a hefty fine, as well as a loss draft picks and international free agent pool money. However, will Luhnow face suspension? What about manager AJ Hinch? Both have been presiding over this farce. It is yet to be seen if player participants will be punished as well. The Astros could be absolutely decimated by this act that really didn’t statistically seem to help them. Sometimes winning at all costs really can be to your detriment.