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Astros Cheating Scandal Explained: What Happened During the 2017 Season?

Astros Cheating Scandal Explained

Astros Cheating Scandal Explained

On November 1, 2017 the Houston Astros got their first world championship as they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in 7 games to triumph in the World Series.

After two years, an investigation was published by the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, portraying the cameras used by the Houston Astros during the 2017 season to get signs from opponents unlawfully.

Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner suspended Jeff Luhnow, Astros general manager along with manager A.J. Hinch in January 2020 for a year as a result of their contributions in the sign-stealing scandal. The very same day also saw both of them being dismissed by the Astros.

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“Winning Fixes Everything: How Baseball’s Brightest Minds Created Sports’ Biggest Mess,” a book by Drellich will be launched on February 14, 2023. The book has covered the Astros’ rise and fall, who hit the trail to become the most cost-efficient winning franchise in baseball. However, the quest for triumphing eventually resulted in a scandal, tarnishing the franchise as well as its staff.

So, how did the scandal happen? Have a look at a complete timeline of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal from 2017 to present.

What happened during the 2017 season?

To be precise, the Astros indeed tricked. Particularly, Houston integrated an electronic sign-stealing system to get illegal advantage.

A camera was set up by the Astros in the outfield at Minute Maid Park targeting home plate and near the Astros home dugout, a TV monitor was also set up as the players and employees would get the signs from opponents. After cracking the code once, they would convey hitters at the plate what pitch was approaching through a loud sound. 

Back in 2014 when MLB unfolded instant replay, each team was with a video replay room with live feeds, allowing discussions between the dugout and the video room. According to the report from The Athletic, unlawful sign stealing using enhanced technology was developing across baseball. 

What happened during the 2017 season

On September 15, 2017 the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were imposed penalties by Manfred for their schemes to discuss signs unlawfully. In order to communicate pitch signs, an employee of the Red Sox utilized a wearable device.

In spite of Manfred delivering a note to all thirty teams regarding the aftermath for virtually stealing signs in September 2017, the Astros still continued their operation.

How the Astros Managed during the Scandal?

In 2017, the Astros triumphed 101 games and ended up winning the American League West. It marked their second-highest winning percentage (.623) in franchise history.

They were one of the top baseball teams. Jose Altuve, the Astros second baseman triumphed AL MVP.

In the ALDS, the Astros beat the Red Sox in 4 games. The Astros also triumphed in 7 games against the Yankees in the ALCS, prior to defeating the Dodgers in the World Series. During the 2017 regular season, L.A. triumphed 104 games.

Have a look at some of the home and road splits of Astros players in the 2017 postseason:

Consequence the Astros had to Face Following the News Broke Out back in 2019

An investigation has been launched by MLB for the things mentioned in The Athletic’s story. In the forthcoming book, Drellich pens “In a span of two months, the league’s department of investigations would interview 68 people, including 23 Astros players, and collect more than 76,000 emails.”

And it was found out in the investigation that the Astros actually used cameras along with some other technology to steal signs from opponents illegally. As a result, they were imposed an unusual fine and Hinch as well as Luhnow were also suspended for a season, with the Astros ripping off their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, including $5 million in penalty.

There were also some of the other teams that were also affected. In 2017, Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Houston’s bench coach was suspended for one season and the Red Sox also fired both of them. Furthermore, Carlos Beltrán, who was all set to become the New York Mets manager, was also dismissed after his contribution in the scandal was confirmed.

MLB didn’t discipline any of the Astros players.

Where did The Athletic fill in the gaps?

The Athletic then Astros pitcher named Mike Fiers addressed the sign-stealing scandal. From 2015 until 2017, he was the Astros player and later joined the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics, where he informed them regarding Houston’s sign-stealing schemes. Mike said “That’s not playing the game the right way,” adding “They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win.”

The then pitcher for White Sox, Danny Farquhar informed The Athletic that each time a changeup signal happened, he was able to listen to banging from the Astros dugout.

Farquhar said “There was a banging from the dugout, almost like a bat hitting the bat rack every time a changeup signal got put down,” adding “After the third one, I stepped off. I was throwing some really good changeups and they were getting fouled off. After the third bang, I stepped off.”

Then during the later days, The Athletic reported players’ reactions during the league. Kaitlyn McGrath penned on Blue Jays players feeling cheated by the Astros. Dan Hayes, who is Twins reporter, also noted during spring training of 2020 that the team wasn’t dismissing Marwin Gonzalez, who was involved in the Astros’ sign stealing, affecting their team chemistry.

A legal complaint was filed by Pitcher(like Justin Verlander) Michael Bolsinger which was apparently dismissed, against the Astros for reportedly destroying his career due to the sign-stealing scandal. His role was highlighted by Rosenthal and Drellich in planning the sign-stealing scheme and the way his voice affected others in the Astros clubhouse.

How the Sign Stealing Scandal Still Clicks Today?

The sanctions imposed on the Astros by MLB are some of the most stringent in baseball history. Though the Astros players did not experience any punishment for their contributions to the sign-stealing scandal, they made an apology for their roles in several degrees. 

During the 2020 season, players and teams were restricted by Manfred from accessing the video replay rooms. Though this restriction was withdrawn last year, MLB still put restrictions on replay video from getting catcher’s signals in order to avoid a sign stealing scandal in future.

In spite of the 2020 season being lessened to Sixty games because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Astros continued to be opposing teams’ target. 

In 2021 once fans started to be in the stands, they booed and expressed their resentment every time their respective team welcomed the Astros.

The sign-stealing scandal was still annoying across baseball. Dusty Baker, Astros manager was questioned regarding remarks of White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera following Houston’s bats cooled during the 2021 postseason against Chicago. Ryan said “They’ve obviously had a reputation of doing some sketchy stuff over there, and, you know, it’s just we can say that it’s a little bit of a difference.”

Dusty Baker called Tepera’s remarks “heavy accusations,” adding “People don’t forget.”

Hinch returned as the Detroit Tigers manager after serving his suspension whereas Cora also returned to serve as the Red Sox manager.

After 5 years, there are almost different players in the Astros along with different coaches, personnel and management from 2017. 

Notwithstanding, the sign-stealing scandal and cheating still continues to be associated with the Astros.

Final Words

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