It appears that the investigation into the Houston Astros 2017 sign-stealing controversy is drawing to a close. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, commissioner Rob Manfred is expected to decide on the Astros’ punishment sometime in the next several weeks.
MLB began its investigation into the Astros in November, shortly after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers revealed to the Athletic that the team had enacted a sign-stealing scheme during the 2017 season. It was allegedly set up by two players and involved a center field camera at Minute Maid Park and a system of trash can lid bangs to alert the batter as to what pitch was coming. As part of the investigation, MLB conducted interviews, examined video and sifted through over 75,000 emails and instant messages.
“Punishment” encompasses a number of things, all of which Manfred needs to figure out. There’s team punishment, which would be a large fine (Passan suggested it could be the largest ever levied against a baseball team) and perhaps the loss of draft picks for 2020 and beyond. Then there’s the punishment of the individuals involved, such as players, coaches, employees and front office executives, which could possibly include suspensions and fines.
Despite the allegation that the sign stealing system was hatched by two players, Passan reported that MLB is not expected to discipline any players, only coaches, employees and executives. That could include GM Jeff Luhnow, manager AJ Hinch, former bench coach (and current Boston Red Sox manager) Alex Cora and others.
Cora has now been connected to a second sign-stealing controversy, this time with the Red Sox. It was reported on Tuesday that during their 2018 season — which, like the Astros in 2017, led to a World Series championship — the Red Sox used the video room and a sequence of subtle signs to communicate pitch types to batters.
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