By Rosa Lilly Melendez
The Astros won the World Series title in 2017 and at that time it was all just celebrations and congratulations… Until a bombshell of a revelation came to light. The Astros used technology not to better the sport or themselves as a team, but instead they used it to aid themselves in making their cheating process even better. Here’s how they managed that: In 2017 the Astros’ video replay room was using live video feeds during the game to find out what signs the catcher was using. They would then use a runner who would provide the information to the dugout and that information would then be shared with the team. They eventually even installed a TV right outside of the dugout to streamline the sign-stealing process. The team, apart from the fact that they were fully aware that this was cheating, also got together to come up with a process to improve how to sign steal.
Here’s where it gets more interesting. The Red Sox were also caught stealing signals in the 2017 season and as a result the MLB issued a firm warning against sign stealing and stated that the use of replays or video rooms was strictly prohibited. So, what did the Astros do? Well, you would think this would serve as a warning to the team and stop their cheating ways, right? Nope! Instead they moved their video replay room behind the dugout and started using the “banging scheme”, this involved the use of trash cans which they would hit themselves or use a massage gun to relay the information about the signs that were being put out by the catcher. They would use one bang or two, which would signify the type of pitch that was going to be thrown. In fact, when the team thought that White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar was onto their trash can banging scheme, a wave of panic came over the team but it still didn’t deter them from cheating. It wasn’t until Mike Fiers, former pitcher for the Astros, exposed his former team about their use of technology to steal signs, which finally also confirmed the suspicions of many members of the MLB, that the Astros had been cheating all along.
So what was the end result of the Astros’ long con? The organization received the maximum fine allowed under MLB Rules of $5 million and had to forfeit their first and second round draft picks for 2020 and 2021. Luhnow (prior GM for the Astros) and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for one year by the MLB but subsequently ended up being fired by owner of the Astros Jim Crane.