MLB Sign Stealing Scandal

Josh Calloni, Reporter

The punishments for the Houston Astros have been handed down for their sign stealing scandal, but when those punishments were handed down, it was only the beginning of a busy month around the MLB.

Commissioner Rob Manfred released a report documenting what he had found during the Astros investigation. Manager AJ Hinch, bench coach Alex Cora, and then player Carlos Beltran were all mentioned to have an important role, which factored into the punishments. Hunch was suspended for a year without pay, as was the Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. The Astros were also fined 5 million dollars, and lost their top two draft picks until 2022. This put Houston in a tough spot, as losing a GM and manager a month out from spring training is not ideal, as many candidates for those jobs with other organizations previously were set to start 2020 with other teams. 

After the punishment was handed down, Astros owner Jim Crane wasted no time, and fired both Luhnow and Hinch. Since then, James Click has been named GM, and Dusty Baker was hired as manager of the Astros, signing a two year contract. 

The Astros investigation lead into similar allegations against the Boston Red Sox from 2018. Their manager that year was none other than Cora, who was under fire already from the Astros allegations the year prior. No punishment has been handed down for Boston yet, however. Cora stepped down as their manager soon after hearing Hinch and Luhnow punishments, leaving Boston, like Houston, managerless less than a month away from Spring Training. No replacement has been hired yet. 

“The Astros did not get an adequate punishment. They should be stripped of their title, and it should be awarded to the Dodgers. The cheated; it’s not fair,” senior Tommy Flores said. 

The only other name involved in this scandal was Carlos Beltran, who was a player on the 2017 Astros team that is in focus. No players on that team were punished for their involvement, but most of them are still active players. Beltran, however, was named manager of the New York Mets earlier this offseason, and the scandal brought a lot of questions to his new job. While the Mets have no scandal to their name, they thought it was best that Beltran was to not manage the team, as they wanted to avoid harsh media presence and a potential future issue like the ones the Astros are facing. So, Beltran was dismissed before managing a game for the Mets, and was replaced internally with Luis Rojas. 

“You have to feel bad for the Mets. They weren’t involved. They simply hired a manager that they felt was a good fit, but were forced to fire him for an issue unrelated to their team,” junior Zach Russell said. 

Since the punishments were handed down however, more investigation has gone down throughout the league. Opposing pitchers such as Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger have claimed that the Astros wore buzzers under their jerseys in 2019 to alert hitters of what pitch was coming. While nothing official was launched, many people look towards Jose Altuve’s walkoff home run in the 2019 ALCS to send the Astros to the World Series as proof. Altuve refused to have his jersey ripped off at home plate, held on to the jersey tightly, and quickly went into the locker room to change before celebrating his teams impending World Series trip. 

On top of this, a Houston Astros fan, Tony Adams went through 58 of the Astros 81 home games in 2017, and documented trash can bangs, and put them on his website, It indicated that roughly 1,143 bangs were made throughout the season. The bangs picked up heavily in May, and ended abruptly in September, after White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar became aware of what was going on, pointing it out on the mound to catcher Kevan Smith. From there, the bangs only happened twice. The information also shows which players receive more bangs, as Beltran, Marwin Gonzalez and  George Springer each received bangs about 18 percent of the time. The most bangs came in a game on August 4, in which the Astros scored 16 runs, and 54 bangs were heard. Two opposing pitchers that day, Mike Bolsinger and Cesar Valdez, both threw their last MLB pitch that day. 

Finally, to top it all off, the so called, “whistleblower”, in the whole scandal, Mike Fiers, was accused of statutory rape shortly after all of these accusations came out, but all the accusations proved to be false, and the evidence used against Fiers was taken out of context.

While no certain punishment was outlined, commissioner Rob Manfred concluded his report saying that he hopes the level of consequence the Astros faced prevent teams from illegally stealing signs in the future.