As MLB continues to dig into the Houston Astros’ alleged cheating scheme used for the 2017 regular season and potentially longer, there has been only one method reported for sure to be used by the team.
That would be the infamous trash can, which was reportedly used in conjunction with a camera in center field of Minute Maid Park to relay catcher signals to the Astros’ batters through audible cues (banging on the trash can).
One of the biggest questions facing MLB now is how else might the Astros have skirted the rules over the last few years. Whistling? Signals from the team’s bullpen catcher? Thanks to the New York Yankees’ reported complaints during the 2019 ALCS, another method seems to have emerged as a possibility.
Another Astros sign-stealing accusation?
According to one report from SNY’s Andy Martino, the Yankees took issue with blinking lights they observed in center field against the Astros:
SNY has learned that the Yankees also complained to the league about blinking lights in center field early on in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park — just days after Hinch responded angrily to SNY's report about the whistling.
The Yankees also suspected that Houston was alternating whistling and hand signs, depending on the inning, and that the type of whistling varied depending on the pitch.
Any Yankees complaints would have likely come after a three-run first inning for the Astros offense. The team’s bats went relatively quiet from there; scoring just one run until Jose Altuve’s walk-off homer ended the series in the ninth inning.
Those accusations reportedly came after the Yankees had complained about suspicious whistling during the ALCS, which Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded to by calling such suspicions “a joke” and saying they “made me laugh because it's ridiculous.” MLB has since confirmed there was whistling, but not the source.
Add in the blinking lights accusation, and you can see the Yankees clearly thought something was up.
MLB has plenty of work to do
This could all be the paranoia of a series loser, but it really goes to show the breadth of possibilities MLB is dealing with while looking into the Astros. Baseball is a sport of endless ways to cheat, and that is exacerbated by modern technology.
The league has reportedly questioned Astros players about the potential use of buzzing bandages, hidden earpieces, sign-decoding algorithms and more, with severe penalties threatened if they are caught lying.
We’ve already seen high-tech cheating methods be caught by MLB, including the Apple watches of the Boston Red Sox and the hacking efforts of the St. Louis Cardinals. This Astros scandal takes things even further though, with baseball’s most high-tech team having apparently zero qualms about bending the rules.
We’ll see if MLB is able to dredge up any proof behind these accusations.
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