Sign stealing is hardly a new concept in baseball, but the Houston Astros appear to be taking things to a different level.
It’s been said, at least in sports, “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin.” On that note sign stealing is a common practice in baseball, and somewhat easily done due to the down time in games that allow for keen observation. The Houston Astros have been cited as an ahead of the curve organization as they’ve risen in recent years, but now they may be taking things to another level.
According to Metro Boston, a man was removed from media area next to the Boston Red Sox dugout during Game 1 of the ALCS. According to the report, the man claimed to be an Astros employee, did not have a media credential and had a small camera while texting frequently.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the Cleveland Indians filed a complaint with MLB regarding the Astros trying to film the inside of their dugout during Game 3 of the ALDS. And according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Indians warned the Red Sox of the scheme before the ALCS.
Yahoo! obtained a photo of the man in question from Game 1 of the ALCS, Kyle McLaughlin, pointing a cell phone into the Indians’ dugout during Houston’s 11-3 series-clinching win. McLaughlin was removed by security in Cleveland as well.
Passan also cited sources pointing to a couple incidents of the Astros sign-stealing and relaying signals to hitters, including during last year’s World Series against the Dodgers. Doing such things without technology is surely done by every team in some way, as signs aren’t changed often enough and pitchers tip their pitches at times. The Red Sox, for example, were seen calling out Luis Severino’s pitches during the ALDS.
If it can be proven the Astros were using a covertly placed “employee” and technology in an over-the-top way to steal signs, and all signs are pointing to that, they should and will be punished somehow. A fine is the most likely outcome, which will come off as a slap on the wrist by those who think the Astros have cheated their way to success.