Major Leauge Baseball has had its fair share of scandals in the 151 years that it has existed, but things have been pretty mundane since the Marshall Report that exposed several prominent players for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the late 1990s and early 2000s. That was until The Atlantic reported that the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros had used different technological methods to steal signs and were banging on trash cans to signal their hitters to upcoming pitches. The baseball world erupted with outrage. Coaches, players, and of course the fans demanded an explanation and repercussions. Since the story broke there have been numerous claims from multiple sources about what really happened in 2017 and fans have been left with more questions than answers. When did this all start? Was it only in 2017? Who knew about this? Here’s what we know:
The Trash Can Plan
One player and one coach came together to devise a plan to steal signs from opposing teams to aid hitters. The result of this meeting was a camera being placed in centerfield of Minute Maid Park that would show the visiting team’s catcher giving signals to the pitcher in the home dugout.
An Astros front office executive sends an email requesting scouts to help find a way to steal signs with the use of cameras or other means. Nothing is revealed to fans or Major Leauge Baseball at this point. Opposing pitchers pick up on banging sounds when certain pitches are being thrown.
The Astros make it to the playoffs. The Astros defeated the New York Yankees to win the American League Championship.
The Astros win their first World Series in franchise history. Jose Altuve is awarded MVP of not only the World Series but the American League.
At this point, several accusations of sign stealing and trash can banging were floating around but no fines or punishments were put in place. Both the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost to the Houston Astros in the World Series expressed to MLB executives that the Astros were stealing signs in ALCS and the World Series.
A Change in Scenery
In 2017 the Boston Red Sox were one of the worst teams in baseball. The front office decided that new management was needed to change that.
Offseason 2018-Alex Cora, former bench coach for the Houston Astros, named Boston Red Sox Manager.
2018 Regular Season- The Boston Red Sox win 108 out of 162 games.
2018 World Series- The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions.
There have been no confirmed reports that the Red Sox stole signs or used technology to tip-off their hitters to what pitches were coming in 2018. But due to the 2017 scandal, there has been speculation that Cora may have brought some of what happened in Houston to the East Coast.
The Saga Begins
With the start of the 2019 regular seasons grumblings about the Astros were still floating around. None the less the Astros had another winning season that sent them back to the World Series. The Washington Nationals captured their first championship that year. All was quiet until…
November 12, 2019
The Atlantic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich break the story that four former Astro’s had come forward to expose what had been going on in Houston in 2017.
MLB then launched an investigation into the claims made by former players. While this was all happening fans were doing their own investigations on whether or not the Astros were banging on a trash can to prepare their batters for incoming pitches.
January 13, 2020
MLB concluded their investigation and the commissioner suspended Manager AJ Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow for one year. The team was forced to give up their first and second drafts picks for the 2020 and 2021 player draft. The Astros were also fined $5 million, the maximum amount allowed by MLB.
The Astros then fired both Hinch and Luhnow.
New Mets manager Carlos Beltran, a former Astro, and member of the 2017 World Series team was fired from the Mets.
January 14, 2020
The Boston Red Sox part ways with manager Alex Cora.
Things get even crazier
January 16, 2020- A twitter account claiming to be run by Carlos Beltran’s niece claims she has more information the Astro’s scandal. She claimed she had photo evidence of Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman wearing buzzers on their bodies that tipped them off to what pitches were coming their way during the 2019 season.
At this point in time, there had been reports that players were wearing devices that would alert them to what type of pitches they were about to see cross the plate. This theory was said to be the reason why Jose Altuve was telling teammates not to rip off his shirt after we hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees to once again win the ALCS.
The internet exploded with conspiracy theories of what may have happened in 2019 but nothing was found to be solid evidence.
January 17, 2020-MLB conducted and concluded an investigation that showed no buzzers or other forms of cheating were used by the Astros in 2019.
The so-called “niece” deleted the Twitter account shortly after the news about the investigation concluding broke.
The short answer is we don’t know, well not yet at least. MLB has yet to enstate any new rules regarding the use of technology or sign stealing in the aftermath of this scandal, but that could all change by the time Spring Training kicks off. Other former players and current players have sounded off on Twitter regarding what they think of the scandal. Spoiler: they are not happy. Whether or not MLB implements new rules to stop things like this from happening again or not it is going to be a very interesting baseball season.