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Astros Baseball Scandal Rocks The Sport
25 March 2020
The biggest scandal in baseball since the steroid debacle came to a head on February 13th, 2020, when key figures involved came forward to apologize. Fallout from the sign-stealing Astros (or “Trashcangate” as some have called it) has included firing mangers and general managers, punishing the Astros, and investigating Boston Red Sox. Learn what happened and how it went down, all brought to you by Spin Sports. If you enjoy your baseball untainted, continue to watch the biggest games at our mobile casino, and bet on play-by-play action.
Key Parties Involved
Major League Baseball issued a report that named the scheme “player-driven.” At the center of the scandal was perennial All-Star player and potential Hall of Famer outfielder, Carlos Beltrán. His clout and prominence on team revved up other players and team leaders, including Alex Cora, the Astros’ bench coach, Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow, and manager A.J. Hinch.
Second baseman José Altuve, third baseman Alex Bregman, and shortstop Carlos Correa were also involved in the sign-stealing setup.
About That Stealing
Just what is “stealing”? Typically, players rely on their eyes, interpretation of the opponent’s signals, and innate feel to suss out each pitch at the home plate. This type of “stealing” is considered skilful and an important part of the game of baseball.
However, when you rely on artificial or expeditious means to interpret or steal the opponent’s signs, that’s cheating. Especially when you use technology, which is absolutely forbidden. According to the MLB report, Alex Cora “arranged for a video room technician” to a set up a monitor by the Astros’ dugout. The monitor displayed a center field camera that provided a live feed. Someone banging on a trash can in code then relayed the discreet signals to the hitters.
This system allowed the hitters to quickly and clearly pick up on the signals, instead of trying to guess from the home plate vantage point. By knowing the exact pitch, a batter could adjust hit timing to swing earlier for a fastball or sit back and observe for a breaking ball or change-up.
The “Brains” Behind the Operation
Stealing allegedly got the Astros ahead for at least a couple years. The so-called mastermind of the plan was Carlos Beltrán. About two months into the 2017 season, Beltrán and a group of Astros players decided maybe they could improve on decoding the opposing team’s signs and make things easier for their batters. So, the trashcan-and-live-feed scheme was hatched.
Fortunately, the backlash Beltrán is now facing is just punishment. He was hired as the Mets’ first Latino manager in fall of 2019. However, after news about his involvement in the scandal came to light in January of 2020, he was fired before the team could even begin spring training.
In a joint statement released by the team, Beltrán said that he and management had “mutually agreed to part ways.” Although not outright apologizing, Beltrán did say, “I couldn’t let myself be a distraction for the team. I wish the entire organization success in the future.”
Some Players Apologized and Managers Were Fired
Well, two outright apologized. Specifically, Altuve and Bregman made brief apologies to reporters at the Astros’ spring training headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida. They apologized one month after Major League Baseball revealed the report and suspended the team’s manager and general manager.
Bregman said, “I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me.”
Astros owner Jim Crane sort of apologized, but only “because we broke the rules.” He was not sorry that the hitters may have had an upper hand on their opponents.
The apologies were a bit wooden and too scripted for the taste of many fans. However, the just desserts the general manager and manager were forced to eat may have been proper compensation. After the MLB suspended manager Hinch and general manager Luhnow for one season, Crane turned around and fired them both.
However, the MLB did grant all players immunity, recognizing the managers should not have been allowing the suspect behaviour to continue.
Boston Red Sox Ripple Effect
The Mets and the Astros are not the only teams who have been affected by the devious minds behind the scandal. Although the Mets made it out unscathed by hiring new manager Luis Rojas, the Boston Red Sox are under close investigation.
Cora and the Red Sox announced a three-year managerial contract for the ex-Astros bench manager the day after the Astros defeated the New York Yankees in the 2017 ALCS. Now viewing that win as suspicious because of the scandal, the quick move seems fishy.
To make things even more suspect, the Boston Red Sox went on to win the World Series in 2018. Not knowing for sure if Cora had instigated this win because of the cheating, the Red Sox fired Cora recently, stating, “It would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward.”