Over the past week, Major League Baseball has been rattled by one of the biggest cheating scandals in baseball history. The Houston Astros were caught viewing live video footage from the center field camera to decode opposing teams’ signs during the 2017 and 2018 season. According to the nine-page investigative report issued by the league, Astros players and coaches signaled to hitters what pitch was coming next by either pounding on a trash can to indicate a curveball or doing nothing to indicate a fastball.
Within a matter of days following the release of the league’s report, axes swung down on the Astros’ coaching staff. Both Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one year and subsequently fired by the Astros shortly afterward. The team was fined the maximum $5 million penalty allowed under the MLB constitution in addition to losing their first- and second- round draft picks for the next two years. Consideration is pending as to whether or not strip the Astros of their 2017 World Series title.
While the team’s coaches are dropping like flies, players have thus far been relatively spared from disciplinary action. The league stated that punishing individual players would be “difficult and impractical.” However, a new allegation has surfaced that might bait second thoughts.
A Twitter user claiming to be former Manager Carlos Beltran’s niece stated that Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman wore devices that buzzed as part of the sign-stealing plot. Interestingly, looking back at when Altuve hit his walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS, he met his teammates at home plate clutching his jersey and pleading them not to tear it off. When Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal questioned Altuve about this during the post-game interview, Altuve laughed and replied, “I’m too shy. Last time I did that, I got in trouble with my wife.” It may be worth noting that this was the only question Altuve asked the reporter to repeat during the interview. In addition, he retreated to a private area to change into a championship t-shirt while his teammates celebrated on the field. It could be nothing, but Altuve’s odd behavior does raise some eyebrows.
The MLB followed up on the buzzer rumors but came up empty-handed, releasing a statement that said, “MLB explored wearable devices during the investigation but found no evidence to substantiate it.”
Other players from around the league have taken to social media to voice their opinions on the matter. Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger, whose team lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series, tweeted, “For the sake of the game, I hope this isn’t true. If true, there needs to be major consequences to the players. That completely ruins the integrity of the game!!!” Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes tweeted, “I’d like my career numbers against Altuve, Springer, and Correa erased from the record books. Seriously though, it’s bad. Can they do that?”
As leaks and rumors continue to arise, who knows what other dirt MLB investigators will uncover from the already muddied situation – and how many more of the Astros will be dragged onto the chopping block?