MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced his findings after investigating the Houston Astros for sign-stealing, a scandal that prominently involved the Los Angeles Dodgers and 2017 World Series.
The punishment levied by Manfred included general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch each receiving a one-year suspension, a $5 million fine (highest amount permitted) and forfeit of first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB Drafts.
MLB’s findings determined Astros owner Jim Crane was not aware of the misconduct, and therefore he was absolved from any personal penalties. During a press conference shortly after the punishment was levied, Crane fired Luhnow and Hinch.
Manfred said MLB’s investigation covered the period from 2016 through the present, comprised of interviews with 68 witnesses, including 23 current and former Astros players. Some
witnesses were interviewed multiple times.
Although MLB determined the sign-stealing was largely driven by players, former Astros bench coach and current Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was heavily implicated with setting up the system — a monitor and trash can in the dugout hallway.
MLB is moving forward with their investigation of the Red Sox’s alleged cheating during the 2018 season, and Cora presumably will receive a punishment upon that being completed.
While Manfred found the Astros to have electronically stole signs “throughout the 2017 postseason,” he was unable to determine what impact, if any, it had on results of games.
Nonetheless, Manfred said as part of the nine-page ruling, “I find that the conduct of the Astros, and its senior baseball operations executives, merits significant discipline.
“I base this finding on the fact that the club’s senior baseball operations executives were given express notice in September 2017 that I would hold them accountable for violations of our policies covering sign stealing, and those individuals took no action to ensure that the club’s players and staff complied with those policies during the 2017 postseason and the 2018 regular season.
“The conduct described herein has caused fans, players, executives at other MLB clubs, and members of the media to raise questions about the integrity of games in which the Astros participated. And while it is impossible to determine whether the conduct actually impacted the results on the field, the perception of some that it did causes significant harm to the game.”
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