There’s been a lot said about the Astros supposedly stealing signs and then relaying them to their hitters as far back as 2017. Yet, while recent AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who is usually outspoken on cheaters, has yet to issue a statement, Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin says he witnessed the subterfuge first-hand in Game 1 of this year’s ALCS.
Yes, I’m a diehard Yankees fan. And it absolutely makes my blood boil to think that sign stealing through a Morse code relay system may or may not have played a part in the Astros beating the Yanks in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS, as well as this year’s postseason edition.
However, what is Major League Baseball going to do to stop other clubs from potentially enacting the same type of measures for competitve advantage? This isn’t the NCAA — no championships are going to be vacated. And there certainly won’t be any World Series replays in the near future.
While I’d love to see the Astros relegated to an inferior division, much like soccer leagues around the world do when a club is found to have cheated, or forced to play all of next season in Montreal — a heavy fine and a lenghty suspension of members of the Astros’ front office is all we should expect.
Sure, it’s something, but it’ll never be enough, unless you’re a Houston fan — which seem to be the only contingent of folks defending the club at this hour on social media.
Stealing signs has long been a part of the game, but doing so with two eyes is much different than using technology — it compromises the integrity of the game and that is unfair to every one not wearing Astros’ colors.
As former Yankee Tino Martinez recently told Bryan Fonseca of NJ.com, a line has definitely been crossed.
“I wish I knew every pitch that was coming, believe me,” he told NJ Advance Media. “It makes a big difference. If they were getting the pitches, it shows in their performance. There’s ways to steal pitches from the catcher on second base and you catch signs, that kind of stuff, but to have cameras out there, that’s totally different. That’s having every pitch, every at-bat, at home.”
The part that intrigues me is that these allegations of cheating were strife even this postseason, what, with reports of illegal camera setups, banging, whistling, and flashing LED’s on the Minute Maid Park scoreboard.
Whether any of this is proven accurate, one thing is for sure; the Yankees had their suspicions during their six-game battle with the Astros in the ALCS.
According to Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, his club was heckling the ‘Stros about the potential subterfuge during Game 1 on Oct. 12 when Houston’s hitting coach Alex Cintron flipped the proverbial bird to the Yanks’ dugout.
“Tell your f–king hitting coach I’m going to kick his f–king ass.”
Caught up in the heat of the moment, Nevin later apologized to Astros manager A.J. Hinch, saying:
“I actually told A.J. later that I shouldn’t have brought a player into it,” Nevin said. “But obviously I wasn’t happy with something we saw.”
This type of electronic fueled scandal is relatively new for MLB. Aside from the Red Sox using Apple Watches in 2017 to steal signs against the Yankees, the penalties for these baseball crimes are still being written.
Will Astros GM Jeff Luhnow get the Shoeless Joe Jackson treatment — and be banned from baseball for life? Did a pair of now managers in Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran play a pivotal role in the dispiciable action? I mean, what kind of example does that set for the Red Sox and Mets?
And when will Astro fans stop berating Twitter user and viral sensation Jomboy for bringing more video evidence to the forefront. After all, it’s The Athletic that uncovered the cheating in the first place. These are all legit questions that I hope MLB doesn’t drag out answering.