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So the Astros 2017 title is tainted

Discussion in 'Houston Astros' started by rockets13champs, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. rockets13champs

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  2. Baseballa

    Baseballa Member

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    So the unnamed player who started the system has to be Beltran, right?
     
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  3. Rock Block

    Rock Block Sorta here sometimes

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    Well I hope this turns out to be false or on a much smaller scale then its being portrayed. I mean this is right up there with Spygate if true...ugggh.
     
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  4. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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    There is a broad story about this era of baseball that has yet to be told.

    To this point, the public’s understanding of sign stealing mostly rests on anonymous second-hand conjecture and finger-pointing. But inside the game, there is a belief which is treated by players and staff as fact: That illegal sign stealing, particularly through advanced technology, is everywhere.

    “It’s an issue that permeates through the whole league,” one major league manager said. “The league has done a very poor job of policing or discouraging it.”

    Electronic sign stealing is not a single-team issue. Major League Baseball rules prohibit clubs from using electronic equipment to steal catchers’ signs and convey information. Still, the commissioner’s office hears complaints about many different organizations — everything from mysterious people in white shirts sending signals from center field to elaborate systems involving television cameras and tablets. But MLB has not punished any club, at least publicly, for violating sign-stealing rules since 2017, when the Red Sox were disciplined.

    There was more going on that year.

    Four people who were with the Astros in 2017, including pitcher Mike Fiers, said that during that season, the Astros stole signs during home games in real time with the aid of a camera positioned in the outfield.

    Now, an MLB investigation into the Astros’ culture in the wake of the team’s firing of assistant general manager Brandon Taubman could be expanded to determine who in the organization was aware of the sign-stealing practice — and whether it continued or evolved in subsequent seasons. The Athletic’s confirmation of rule-breaking by Houston is limited to 2017.

    “Beginning in the 2017 season, numerous Clubs expressed general concerns that other Clubs were stealing their signs,” MLB said in a statement. “As a result of those concerns, and after receiving extensive input from the General Managers, we issued a revised policy on sign stealing prior to the 2019 season. We also put in place detailed protocols and procedures to provide comfort to Clubs that other Clubs were not using video during the game to decode and steal signs. After we review this new information we will determine any necessary next steps.”

    The Astros declined to comment at this time.
     
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  5. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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  6. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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    Early in the 2017 season, at least two uniformed Astros got together to start the process. One was a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources; another was a coach who wanted to help. They were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good.

    They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.

    “That’s not playing the game the right way,” said Fiers, who was with the team from 2015-17 and was non-tendered in the offseason after the Astros won the 2017 World Series. “They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win.”

    Three other sources who were inside the organization in 2017 and had direct knowledge of the scheme discussed its existence on the condition of anonymity.

    The Astros’ set-up required technical video knowledge and required the direct aid of at least some on the baseball operations staff, team sources said.

    In an expected interview with Taubman, whom the Astros fired on Oct. 24, during the World Series, for inappropriate comments and conduct toward three female reporters, MLB likely will attempt to learn as much as it can about the Astros’ operation. The league also is expected to interview current and former Astros players and employees, according to sources.

    MLB has heard of this specific system before, but to this point the league has not gathered sufficient evidence to prove the Astros committed wrongdoing, sources said.

    One challenge MLB will face if it expands its investigation to include the Astros’ alleged sign-stealing: Determining what is perception and what is reality with the franchise, which is viewed with mistrust by many in the sport.

    Paranoia within baseball, particularly regarding the Astros, runs deep. In 2019, even after a full season of new, more rigid rules baseball enacted to clamp down on sign stealing, the Nationals during the World Series employed a sophisticated set of signs against the Astros that they did not use in previous rounds of the postseason. During the American League Championship Series, the Yankees believed the Astros were whistling from the dugout to communicate pitches. But the league found no wrongdoing, a source said, and other rumors attached to the Astros may not be grounded in reality.

    The Astros of this decade, under owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow, are a polarizing operation. In part, that is due to their success. But it’s also because of how the industry views their modus operandi. The result may be that industry people are simply more willing to discuss Houston than they would be other clubs.

    “People respect what they’ve accomplished,” one rival general manager said. “They don’t respect the culture they’ve created or some of the methods they choose to utilize to become what they’ve become.”

    The Astros’ set-up in 2017 was not overly complicated. A feed from a camera in center field, fixed on the opposing catcher’s signs, was hooked up to a television monitor that was placed on a wall steps from the team’s home dugout at Minute Maid Park, in the tunnel that runs between the dugout and the clubhouse. Team employees and players would watch the screen during the game and try to decode signs — sitting opposite the screen on massage tables in a wide hallway.

    [​IMG]
    The area between the clubhouse and dugout at Minute Maid Park where the Astros placed a screen in 2017.
    When the onlookers believed they had decoded the signs, the expected pitch would be communicated via a loud noise — specifically, banging on a trash can, which sat in the tunnel. Normally, the bangs would mean a breaking ball or off-speed pitch was coming.

    Fiers, who confirmed the set-up, acknowledged he already has a strained relationship with the Astros because he relayed to his subsequent teams, the Tigers and A’s, what the Astros were doing.

    “I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said. “Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It’s (B.S.) on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys. The guys who know are more prepared. But most people don’t. That’s why I told my team. We had a lot of young guys with Detroit (in 2018) trying to make a name and establish themselves. I wanted to help them out and say, ‘Hey, this stuff really does go on. Just be prepared.’”

    And be on guard.

    ‘I told the teams I was on, I didn’t know how far the rules went with MLB, but I knew they (the Astros) were up to date, if not beyond,” said Fiers, who became a free agent on Dec. 1, 2017. “I had to let my team know so that we were prepared when we went to go play them at Minute Maid.”

    Two sources said the Astros’ use of the system extended into the 2017 playoffs. Another source adamantly denied that, saying the system ended before the postseason.

    One Astros source said he had a vivid memory of hearing the garbage can sound right before an Astros home run during the postseason. Yet, he also believed that during the World Series, it was probably too loud inside the park for the Astros’ system to be effective. There was, after all, a basic requirement for the system to function: The batter had to be able to hear it.

    The Astros did not use the same system in away games, sources said. The Astros won the World Series over the Dodgers in seven games, and the finale was a road game.

    If the system was halted prior to the postseason, it was not stopped long before it, based upon an incident recalled by both an opposing pitcher and an Astros source.

    Pitching for the White Sox in 2017, Danny Farquhar made two mid-September appearances at Minute Maid Park, just before the playoffs. One Astros source recalled that Farquhar appeared to visibly notice what the Astros were up to.

    Farquhar, the source remembered, pointed to his ear on the mound.

    “There was a banging from the dugout, almost like a bat hitting the bat rack every time a changeup signal got put down,” said Farquhar, who is now the pitching coach with the White Sox’s High-A affiliate in Winston-Salem, N.C. “After the third one, I stepped off. I was throwing some really good changeups and they were getting fouled off. After the third bang, I stepped off.”

    Farquhar said he and his catcher changed the signs to the more complex kind used when a runner is on second base — a situation where base runners have long been able to legally relay signs, using their own eyes.

    “The banging stopped,” Farquhar said. “My assumption was they were picking it up from the video and relaying the signs to the dugout. … That was my theory on the whole thing. It made me very upset. I was so angry, so mad, that the media didn’t come to me after.”

    The impact of the Astros’ sign-stealing is difficult to assess. Not every player used it in Houston.

    “There were guys who didn’t like it,” Fiers said. “There are guys who don’t like to know (what’s coming) and guys who do.”

    Players who did use it would not necessarily use it all the time, either.

    Yet, the Astros would probably not have employed the system if at least some players didn’t perceive it as an advantage — or at least a leveling of the playing field.

    Sources recalled the system being discussed around the team. One day in the cafeteria, a player lamented the fact that the screen had not been set up on time. Another time, a player said they were looking forward to going back to Minute Maid Park and the benefit of the trash can.

    At least once, some on the Astros were worried enough that they would be discovered that, in the middle of a game, someone in the dugout ordered the screen hauled out of the tunnel and hidden.

    For a long time, high-ranking executives with other teams have voiced their concerns about the Astros, in particular, as well as other teams, both to Major League Baseball and to reporters.
     
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  7. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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    Some with Houston believed the effort to steal signs was, essentially, an act of self-defense. One Astros person called the electronic sign-stealing behavior in the sport “pervasive,” and was surprised that more information had not come out sooner. That person suggested any potential accusers might also have dirty hands of their own, making them less likely to talk. If MLB looks more thoroughly into the Astros’ actions, their employees may be forced to decide whether to tell the league about what they believed other teams were doing.

    “I don’t know if we really had any hard proof, but I’m sure there was (some evidence of other teams’ conduct),” Fiers said. “Going into the playoffs, we had veterans like Brian McCann — we went straight to multiple signs (with our pitchers). We weren’t going to mess around. We were sure there were teams out there that were trying certain things to get an edge and win ballgames. I wouldn’t say there was hard evidence. But it’s hard to catch teams at home. There are so many things you can use to win at home.”

    Taubman, meanwhile, has been connected to the topic before.

    Before he was fired, Taubman confronted a Yankees employee at Yankee Stadium in May of 2018, believing the Yankees were flouting the rules. During the 2018 playoffs, the Indians and Red Sox separately discovered a person connected to the Astros named Kyle McLaughlin taking pictures near the dugout. (McLaughlin was also with Taubman at Yankee Stadium in May.)

    MLB publicly accepted the Astros’ position that McLaughlin was on a defensive mission that October, trying to guard against other teams’ efforts. That month, Jeff Passan reported the first accounts of Astros players using a garbage can suspiciously.

    The 2018 playoffs were the first postseason in which MLB had dedicated measures in place to prevent electronic sign stealing. The league then distributed new rules to all teams in the spring of 2019, outlining them in a six-page document and accompanying FAQ.
     
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  8. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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    Among those rules: No camera installed beyond the outfield fence and between the foul poles may capture an image of the catcher’s signs. Any camera in that area needs advance approval from the commissioner’s office. The league has also set rules about the placement and use of monitors and TVs, mandating that virtually every screen be on an eight-second delay. In addition, MLB placed league employees at the park to attempt to monitor what teams are doing.

    However, the Astros’ actions in 2017 were a violation of the rules even as written then: “Major League Baseball Regulations … prohibit the use of electronic equipment during games and state that no such equipment ‘may be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage,'” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a 2017 statement.

    That season, when MLB investigated the Red Sox for their use of electronic equipment against the Yankees, part of what MLB said it sought to learn was the extent of the Boston front office’s involvement, a sign of what may be to come now. It was the first point listed among the league’s explanations for the punishment.

    “First, the violation in question occurred without the knowledge of ownership or front office personnel,” Manfred said at the time.

    The sport’s history is laced with sign stealing and various forms of cheating. The sport’s present, too. What separates this era from the past is the use of electronics, the arms race.

    One Astros source was adamant: The team should not become the poster child for sign stealing. Not when so much is going on with other clubs that MLB has not stopped, they said.

    Are the Astros more often a topic because they are disliked by some people around the league, and indeed, by some who walked through their own doors and clubhouse? Or is it because they are, in fact, at the forefront of the problem?

    At this point, the commissioner’s office may need to sort it out. All of it.
     
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  9. texans1095

    texans1095 Member

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    Maybe I only feel this way because I'm such a fan of the team being accused, but I honestly don't care. There's no way that at least half the teams aren't doing the same exact thing (or something very similar). The Astros only get called out for it because of their sustained success and it now being the "cool" thing to do to criticize the "Astros Way". If it was only the Astros doing it, then yes it would be a problem. But by all accounts it's a league-wide issue. So I honestly don't really care about it. Except for the fact that national media will spin this as "The Astros are a dirty team and therefore their title should have an * next to it"
     
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  10. SuraGotMadHops

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    This is a giant yawn for me. Stealing signs, tipping, whatever, we were the champs in 2017, almost champs again in 2019, AL Champs in 2019. Red Sox were using apple watches during their reign. Enforce it better or stfu about it.

    I'm not being a homer either, I cant stand the Patriots and the Spygate/Deflategate stuff means oogatz to me too.
     
  11. zeeshan2

    zeeshan2 Member

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    people didn't read the article smh

     
  12. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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    But let's go ahead and make this about the Astros. Great **** Ken. Not shocked Drelich had a piece in this either. Dude hates the Stros. Big bitch.

     
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  13. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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  14. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

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    Can’t take that **** away now bitches.

    I’m assuming Fiers declined his World Series ring due to ethics?
     
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  15. SemisolidSnake

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    With a moderate amount of effort, I could probably come up with valid-sounding reasons why "The _____'s _____ title is tainted." By questionable individual or team behavior, by bad umpiring, by sleazy league decisions, whatever. I'm not burning my Astros WS merch, least of all the damn Christmas ornament that barely made it in time for Christmas 2017. You can pry that ornament from my cold, dead hands.

    Honestly, this feels like the work of a modern absurdist or satirical writer (if those still existed). "In a world where 50,000+ fans, staff, players, media, etc., most of whom are carrying 4G smartphones and/or high powered zoom cameras, all are crammed into a tightly-packed ballpark, ONE THING stands as a solid bulwark against utter chaos and depravity in an otherwise pure game: a RULE that says technology can't be used to see a thing that's out in the open."

    It might be easier for MLB to enforce a rule that photons bouncing off a catcher's hand can only go to a pitcher's eyes. Get on it, MLB.
     
  16. zeeshan2

    zeeshan2 Member

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    If you can't read it:

     
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  17. bloodwings19

    bloodwings19 Member

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    Ok, Yordan number is tainted. I could see signs watching the game on TV. What is the big deal stealing signs, you still have to hit the baseball and can you react enough to hit it? If they want to stop it, don't show the back of the pitcher's view. Fier is disgruntled that he belongs to the group anyone can win a ring. Wait till Giles to pile on. A good motivation to win more like for the Astros.
     
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  18. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

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    Waiting for the Bregman twitter response.
     
  19. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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  20. Baseballa

    Baseballa Member

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    Split W L RS RA W-L%
    Home 48 33 395 327 .593
    Road 53 28 501 373 .654

    We scored 106 more runs that season in games without the use of this "advantage."
     
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