Calloni’s Corner: Astros Sign Stealing Scandal

Josh Calloni, Reporter

Recently, the Astros have been caught in a sign stealing scandal, and, if convicted, the evidence could lead them to a harsh punishment. 

The scandal involves the Astros using an illegal camera in centerfield of their home ballpark, Minute Maid Park. The camera was fixated on the opposing teams catcher to pick up the signs he was giving to the pitcher. That camera’s feed was automatically directed to a screen in the Astros dugout that was hidden next to a trash can. That trash can was then beaten with a bat a certain amount of times to indicate to the Astros batter whether the coming pitch was a fastball, or an offspeed pitch. This is an illegal act in baseball. 

Sign stealing has always been a part of the game. The legal way to do it is to pick up on certain motions by the pitcher and catcher, and go from there. However, once technology becomes involved, the league steps in. 

Many teams, most recently the Yankees during this year’s playoffs have accused the Astros of sign stealing. The difference was, this year, the Yankees heard whistling, not banging, which was used during the 2017 season. Until recently, this was all baseless accusations. However, 2017 Astro and current Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers came clean and released how the Astros stole signs, and who was involved. The entire roster was in on the act, but manager AJ Hinch, former bench coach and current Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and then player and current Mets manager Carlos Beltran were atop that list. Each of been brought in for questioning. 

Other opposing pitchers have admitted hearing banging and whistling between 2017 and 2019 while playing in Houston. Of those, is now retired reliever Danny Farquhar, who gave video evidence on his Twitter, highlighting an outing in late 2017. That same video was broken down by YouTuber JomBoy, who edited the game audio well enough to the point where you can clearly hear the bangs.

As of now, no punishment is in line because the investigation is fresh and ongoing. However, the league has said that if punishment is handed down, it will be like no other in recent sports history, though that can mean a lot of things. The outcome relies heavily on how many Astros were in on this. The truth of it all is that the Astros used this method in 2017, the same year they won the World Series. If this is a year where they missed the playoffs, its a slap on the wrist and a fine. However, it determined the overall outcome of the entire MLB season. Banning those involved is too harsh of a punishment, because if the accusations are true, you’re looking at roughly 70 people who were apart of the Astros the last two years all wiped from the league. A more realistic punishment would be to take away draft picks from recent years, and deploy them into free agency, and to take away portions of the 2020 draft from the Astros, on top of fines to those most heavily involved. 

The only response the Astros have given is that they believed that other teams were doing similar things, but they are fully prepared to cooperate with the league during this investigation. This comes on the heels of another league investigation of the Astros, during which their former assistant GM made an inappropriate domestic violence comment to a group of female reporters during the playoffs. 

These accusations are some of the most serious in league history, so no timetable for a resolution is currently available. Though, given that the season is now over, this shifts into one of the league’s main and only focusses.