Throughout history, Major League Baseball has seen its share of scandals from betting to performance enhancement drugs; but a big issue with no tolerance is stealing..not bases but signs.
Major League Baseball has alleged that the Houston Astros used electronic devices to steal signs during the 2017 post season and in the 2018 season.
As a result of those allegations, MLB first suspended manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. Astros owner Jim Crane has since fired the duo.
Speaking on his decision to fire Hinch and Luhnow, Crane said, “I have higher standards for the city and the franchise, and I’m going above and beyond MLB’s penalty. We need to move forward with a clean slate.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Mandred noted that Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was the bench coach for the Astros in 2017, created the scheme to steal signs.
In 2017 when John Farrell was the manager for the Boston Red Sox, MLB fined the Red Sox when players in the dugout used smart watches to receive sign stealing information from the video replay room. At that time, the Red Sox promised Commissioner Manfred that it would never happen again.
While he noted that nearly all of the Astros’ players were involved in the scheme to some degree, Manfred decided not to punish any of the players.
Currently MLB is investigating the Boston Red Sox for also stealing signs in the 2018 season – Cora’s first year as the Red Sox head coach.
In the wake of the Astros sign stealing scheme, Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been fired by the team for his participation in the scheme Despite leaving the Red Sox, Cora could face further punishment once MLB has concluded their investigation into whether Cora continued the sign stealing scheme when he became the manager of the Red Sox.
The only player mentioned in MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s nine page report on the Houston Astros sign stealing scheme, Carlos Beltran finds himself out of a job when the New York Mets and Beltran made the “mutual decision” to part ways as the Mets’ manager.
Noting that owner Jim Crane was not informed about the scheme, Commissioner Manfred said that Hinch failed to stop the activity and Luhnow, who was responsible for the player’s conduct, failed to act. Luhnow stated that he was unaware of the sign stealing.
Prior to the firing of Hinch and Luhnow, MLB has fined the Astros $5 million. The Astros must also forfeit their first and second round picks in the amateur draft for the next two years.
According to the investigation, the Astros used the video from the center field camera to determine what signs the opposing catchers were sending the pitcher. Players in the dug out would then bang on cans to let the batter know which pitch was coming. The Astros only used the system for home games.
The initial “decoding” of catcher’s signs began with employees in the Astro’s video replay room who would then relay the information to the Astros’ dugout.
The scheme was designed to aid batters in getting hits and increasing their batting averages. Commissioner Mandred spoke on the issue saying, “while it is impossible to determine whether the conduct actually impacted the results on the field, the perception of some that it did causes significant harm to the game.”
Baseball players have long tried to steal a catcher’s signs while standing on second base. MLB allows such activity; however, the use of anything other than the naked eye to “steal” a sign is strictly prohibited.
If Hinch or Luhnow are involved in any further rule violations, they could face a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball.
Taking a no tolerance stance, MLB was much stiffer for sign stealing than that of the National Football League who in 2007 fined New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick only $500,000 and the Patriots $250,000 and a first round draft pick for using video to steal opposing team’s signs.