The Houston Astros have been the talk of baseball in the wake of allegations they electronically stole signs at Minute Maid Park during the 2017 season.
Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers first brought attention to the matter when he revealed the organization installed cameras in center field to capture the signs of opposing catchers.
Astros employees then attempted to decipher the signs on a television near the dugout and relayed the results to batters by banging loudly on a trash can. This signified to hitters which pitches — typically off-speed — would come their way during an at-bat.
While sign stealing in baseball has been a common practice for decades, no team on record has gone the distance of doing so to that of which the Astros are being accused.
Former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, who endured two rough outings against Houston in the 2017 World Series, now wonders if the club managed to steal signs at Dodger Stadium as well.
MLB executives recently met at the General Manager meetings and further discussed this issue. They reportedly sought clarity on the degree to which cameras can be used by scouts at stadiums, via Marc Carig of The Athletic:
At the GM meetings, sources said talks were centered on clarifying stadium rules regarding cameras, rather than banning the practice of scouts using them altogether. Multiple executives indicated on Saturday that they consider the use of cameras by scouts in the stands to be a separate issue from using cameras with an intent to steal signs.
The extent to which cameras can be used by scouts vary across each MLB ballpark. Some stadiums are more tolerant with the use of recording devices while others completely ban them.
Should MLB determine that the Astros crossed a line by filming other teams’ signs during the 2017 season, it could lead to an unprecedented punishment.
While it is unlikely that the Astros’ 2017 World Series championship will be vacated, the organization may be subject to significant fines, the loss of multiple future draft picks, and suspensions to the front office, scouting department and coaching staff.
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