Previously mired in a controversy due to comments made by former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman and their ensuing missteps in addressing the matter, the Houston Astros now have the spotlight on them over alleged sign stealing during the 2017 season.
Mike Fiers, who spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Astros, went on record to detail their installation of a camera in center field at Minute Maid Park that was used to steal signs a catcher would put down and then alert the batter of the forthcoming pitch.
Fiers’ claims weren’t surprising, as there have long been whispers of the Astros going beyond the generally accepted practice of a baserunner relaying info on a pitch from second base. While indications are the Astros carried out their sign stealing during the 2017 season, whether that stretched through the World Series is unclear.
Houston of course defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games, which included knocking around Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish in their respective road starts. When prompted with the topic, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman essentially declined to discuss the matter, per Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group:
“Being that we are a team directly involved, it sounds a little sour grapes for me to say much about it,” the Dodgers president of baseball operations said on Tuesday. “We’ll see what Major League Baseball comes back with and kind of go from there.”
Friedman did say the Dodgers were aware of the Astros’ reputation prior to the World Series beginning:
“Yeah there was a lot going into it,” Friedman said. “During the playoffs, our advance team that was on Houston talked about it. There was a lot of speculation at the time about it.”
If the Astros are found to have utilized technology in effort as part of their sign stealing, it could lead to a severe punishment from MLB. During the 2017 regular season, the Boston Red Sox were fined an undisclosed amount after the New York Yankees submitted a complaint and evidence an Apple Watch was utilized to steal signs.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred warned of harsher penalties moving forward for teams who were caught.
During the National League Division Series that postseason, former Arizona Diamondbacks coach Ariel Prieto was fined for wearing an Apple Watch. The Diamondbacks denied it was part of a ploy to cheat or steal signs, and the Dodgers didn’t protest the matter.
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