Saturday, 18 January, 2020

The Astros cheated. Now they’re punished - and disgraced

Exclusive MLB hands down unprecedented penalties for Astros after sign-stealing investigation Exclusive MLB hands down unprecedented penalties for Astros after sign-stealing investigation
Cary Erickson | 14 January, 2020, 08:40

The Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series.

Major League Baseball is still investigating allegations that the Red Sox used video from the replay room to steal signs during the 2018 regular season, Cora's first year as the team's manager.

The team will also be fined $5 million and forfeit first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021.

George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros waits on deck prior to Game Five of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on October 27, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Astros owner Jim Crane on if the 2017 World Series title is tainted: "I think absolutely not".

"We need to move forward with a clean slate", he said. Manfred painted a picture of a team management exclusively focused on winning. The Indians, for instance, knew they had to change their signs repeatedly when they played the Astros, especially at Minute Maid Park.

Manfred said Hinch was aware of the system but did not tell Luhnow. And that's where, according to Rob Manfred, the responsibility for this falls.

"Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both hard and impractical", Manfred said in his report. While Mets manager Carlos Beltran was part of it, he was a player at the time and thus was not suspended.

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Takeaway: After Alex Cora left the team to take over as Red Sox manager, the use of the replay room dissipated.

This is a huge blow for the Astros although it's certainly an expected one.

■ Cora is the one exception to the scheme largely being conducted by players. "This was misconduct committed by the team".

The Astros were accused by former pitcher Mike Fiers of operating a sign-stealing system using cameras mounted inside the stadium.

MLB's Department of Investigations interviewed 27 witnesses, including 23 current and former Houston players, and reviews tens of thousands of emails, Slack communications, text messages, video clips and photographs.

■ Players told investigators that had they been told to stop by Hinch, they would have stopped. "I am neither in a position to evaluate whether the scheme helped Astros hitters. nor whether it helped the Astros win any games".

A person in the dugout would notify players in the dugout or signal the sign sequence to a runner on second base.

Cora began calling the replay room for the information early in the season. Two bangs usually were used for off-speed pitches and no sound for fastballs. Players used several methods to get the information to the batter, most famously banging on a trash can placed in the hallway between the dugout and the clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. "I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the DOI [Department of Investigations] completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager".