The Houston Astros won’t face any league discipline related to accusations of postseason spying, Major League Baseball announced Wednesday before Houston met the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
The league’s statement on the matter starts by saying a number of teams expressed concern about sign-stealing and inappropriate use of video equipment this postseason, then continues to say their investigation found the Astros were making sure other teams weren’t cheating. The league says it warned the rest of the postseason teams not do this anymore and that the matter is closed.
Here’s the statement in full:
“Before the Postseason began, a number of Clubs called the Commissioner’s Office about sign stealing and the inappropriate use of video equipment. The concerns expressed related to a number of Clubs, not any one specific Club. In response to these calls, the Commissioner’s Office reinforced the existing rules with all playoff Clubs and undertook proactive measures, including instituting a new prohibition on the use of certain in-stadium cameras, increasing the presence of operations and security personnel from Major League Baseball at all Postseason games and instituting a program of monitoring Club video rooms.
“With respect to both incidents regarding a Houston Astros employee, security identified an issue, addressed it and turned the matter over to the Department of Investigations. A thorough investigation concluded that an Astros employee was monitoring the field to ensure that the opposing Club was not violating any rules. All Clubs remaining in the playoffs have been notified to refrain from these types of efforts and to direct complaints about any in-stadium rules violations to MLB staff for investigation and resolution. We consider the matter closed.”
During Game 4 of the ALCS, a story broke saying the Astros had a man in the camera well during their series against the Cleveland Indians and again against the Red Sox. He was credentialed by the Astros, but not as a member of the media. He was spotted taking pictures of the opposing dugout and texting on his phone. The man was identified by Yahoo Sports as Kyle McLaughlin. He appears to have close ties to the Astros organization, as our own Jeff Passan reported.
McLaughlin was removed by security in Cleveland. The Indians warned the Red Sox about McLaughlin, who then turned up in Boston for the ALCS. He was also removed by security there.
This marks the next step in an ongoing escalation of information-stealing in baseball the past few years. The St. Louis Cardinals were busted for hacking into an Astros database in the most famous case, which led to a Cardinals exec going to jail. Last year, the Red Sox were fined after MLB one of their trainers had used an Apple Watch in a sign-stealing scheme.
What we’ve learned from those previous cases is that MLB won’t punish the act of sign-stealing. If it’s done on the field, the league considers that part of the game. Where it often takes issue is when teams use off-the-field technology to aid those efforts.
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