I still haven’t figured out the best way to artfully share interesting/incendiary/important bits about the Astros sign-stealing scandal, but there’s really good stuff to get into. So I’m gonna go for Bullets style …
- Per a report out of Houston, MLB instructed video monitors working at Minute Maid park to listen for banging sounds coming from the Houston dugout … at the start of the 2019 season. You may recall that the league issued an edict about using video cameras from foul pole to foul pole before the 2019 season (as in, don’t do it!), but it would appear that they went a little bit further with respect to monitoring the Astros, specifically.
- Jomboy, the Yankees fan video blogger who posts really fun and informative breakdowns, has been all over this story from a visual perspective, and he adds just a little more (embarrassing) confirmation of what the Astros were doing in 2017:
What we were told: Astros set up a monitor between dugout and clubhouse to watch a camera feed & relay signs
What we know: they had a monitor in that spot, that they broke down and took away as soon as games ended. A banging sound paterns perfectly with off-speed pitches. pic.twitter.com/ssXd85ezQ4
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 17, 2019
- That’s from the Astros’ own World Series video … d’oh. And if you were thinking that setup was just about going back to look at swings and pitches really quickly to improve for the next at bat, Sean Doolittle isn’t buying it:
Idk I’ve never played on a team that’s had video setup in the tunnel like that – guys had to go back upstairs. But if that’s what it’s for, why the towels? why break it down after a game? I obviously don’t know the whole story but I think it’s more than fair to be skeptical here.
— Obi-Sean Kenobi Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) November 18, 2019
- And a little more from Dan Haren:
I believe 2019 was the first year mlb had a representative make sure all clubhouse and video room TVs were on a delay…:: and that rep also stayed in the video area during the game.
— dan haren (@ithrow88) November 19, 2019
- Now here’s something extremely crazy:
Who is this Reddit user who had accurate information about the Astros' sign stealing scandal a month before The Athletic's report? https://t.co/iBBHR0tnug
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) November 19, 2019
- The wildest part about the anonymous Reddit posts is not how accurate they were, but how they also included mention of an electronic device attached to the player to communicate via buzzes. If that were true, I mean, that’s just taking cheating to an unbelievable next level. Sound too crazy to be possible? Well, Joel Sherman was told by insiders that it *IS* possible that was one of the ways signs were communicated – and Jomboy has heard the same:
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 18, 2019
- I guess there isn’t any functional difference between banging on a trash can and sending an electronic signal to the batter – once you’ve cheated to steal the signs, however you communicate it is just an extension of that cheating – but there’s something about going to THAT kind of length to ensure you could get the signs communicated to your batters. If it were true, it would just feel so, so much more “cheaty.” I really hope it comes out, and it would help explain how the Astros could have been stealing and communicating signs regardless of the noise level in any environment.
- Meanwhile, as the investigation goes on, Buster Olney reminds folks how lenient the Commissioner’s Office has been perceived to be on other cheating-type scandals:
Sunday notes: https://t.co/uV6kMyeNAH Rob Manfred's handling of the Astros' case is a litmus test for baseball, but also the Commissioner — who has been repeatedly ignored by teams that have treated him like a high school crossing guard.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 17, 2019
- Again I say: you’re talking about cheating that goes fundamentally to the on-field performance for (at least) an entire season involving the team that won the World Series. This is really, really, really bad, and the punishment must be so severe as to scare the crap out of any organization that thinks about pushing the boundaries in the future (or already has been, and is now going to be strongly encouraged to cut it out). Remember: the Astros are almost certainly not alone in doing this kind of thing, and the 2017 season is absolutely not the only season it has happened.
- That said, there are no other teams implicated right now, per the Commissioner:
Manfred on potential discipline: "The general warning I issued to the clubs I stand by. It certainly could be all of those things, but my authority under the major league constitution would be broader than those things as well.”
Translation: He has the authority to hammer teams.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 19, 2019
- Keep in mind, the Commissioner’s job is to do well for the owners and then for the league – so unless he knows for CERTAIN other teams are gonna get busted, he ain’t gonna even hint at it publicly.