Some fans trying to have fun at the Houston Astros expense at their Spring Training opener ran into ballpark security.
This is a totally different kind of sign stealing.
Isn’t it ironic? MLB fans who came out to the Astros Spring Training opening game — against the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals, their co-tenants at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches — had their signs poking fun at them and their sign-stealing scandal saw their signs taken away.
Per a report from ESPN, ballpark personnel confiscated signs that taunted and ridiculed the Astros for their accused sign-stealing prior to the Grapefruit League game. It was the team’s first game following an offseason that unveiled the cheating scandal that has since greatly impacted the sport.
The most notable of these signs came from a Nationals fan that held a sign reading “Houston *s” (Houston asterisks), referring to demands that the 2017 World Series title be vacated. The sign was reportedly confiscated moments after the National Anthem.
A woman confiscated the signs and reportedly told the man signs were forbidden at the ballpark. According to the A-Z Guide for the ballpark, banners and signs are forbidden.
While the ballpark personnel attempted to take away the signs they possibly could take away, they couldn’t stop all the fans from letting the Astros know what they thought of them.
Fans reportedly booed any mention of the word “Astros” by the public address announcer and jeered the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Lance McCullers Jr. None of the players that reportedly involved in the sign-stealing scandal were used in the game.
In addition, some fans banged their seats to mock trash-can banging reportedly utilized by the Astros as part of their methods en route to the 2017 World Series title. Others wore shirts that read “Bang foul poles, not trash cans,” referencing Howie Kendrick’s home run that led the Nats to defeat the Astros in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.
Alas for the fans who wanted to jeer them all game long, they didn’t get long at the all. After two innings, rain forced the game’s cancellation.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had concluded that the Astros used a television camera and the trash can banging to steal signs in 2017 and 2018, but no current players were disciplined. Instead, then-general manager Jeff Luhnow and then-manager AJ Hinch were suspended for one year by the MLB and fired by the Astros.
In addition, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran, who were part of the Astros in 2017, were fired as managers of the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, respectively. Cora and the Sox defeated the Astros in the 2018 ALCS en route to a World Series title, while Beltran had not managed a game for the Mets before his canning.
The players may have not been disciplined and fans at the Spring Training park may have not had long to let their voices be heard, but this is an issue baseball isn’t going to be able to get away from anytime soon. And the reactions and treatment to the Astros from baseball fans (and players) may get much worse once the regular-season begins.