Astros sign-stealing scheme was reportedly one of the worst kept secrets in MLB: 'Everybody knew it'

Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros is congratulated by his teammate Justin Verlander.
Multiple teams alerted MLB about the Astros' cheating. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal wasn’t revealed to the baseball-loving public until this offseason, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. A number of teams suspected Houston was engaging in questionable tactics and let the league know about those suspicions, according to The Washington Post.

That report — from Barry Svrluga and Dave Sheinin — contains quotes from a number of opposing team executives and scouts who knew the Astros were up to something. One executive went so far as to say “everybody knew” about the Astros’ cheating.

“The whole industry knows they’ve been cheating their a---- off for three or four years,” said an executive from a team that faced the Astros in the playoffs during that span. “Everybody knew it.”

So, why didn’t those teams report the Astros to MLB? Actually, they did. Two MLB executives believed roughly “10 to 12” teams complained to MLB about the Astros.

Like most of the people interviewed for this story, the executive spoke on condition of anonymity to defy an MLB request that personnel from other teams refrain from speaking freely about the Astros. He estimated “10 to 12” teams had complained to MLB about the Astros over the years. An executive from another team agreed with that number.

The team’s cheating became so well known that advanced scouts would make notes in their reports about the Astros stealing signs. Opposing teams and players became so frustrated with the situation that they tipped off the Nationals before the 2019 World Series. The Nationals defeated the Astros in seven games.

Despite all that, the league didn’t take action until former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers spoke on the record about Houston’s trashcan banging scheme.

That’s a troubling notion, especially considering rumors that other teams have engaged in similar schemes. In every story detailing the Astros’ cheating, there’s always a suggestion that the Astros weren’t alone.

Former Astros pitcher Joe Musgrove — now with the Pittsburgh Pirates — said as much Tuesday.

That could be Musgrove’s attempt at lessening his former team’s actions. Or it could be an explosive revelation aimed at exposing multiple teams.

If it is the latter, fans shouldn’t expect to hear much more about it from the league. If MLB didn’t take action after a third of the league complained about the Astros, it’s not going to respond to one player throwing around accusations.

The only way to expose more teams involves another whistleblower. Otherwise, MLB seems content to ignore any controversy that threatens the credibility of the league.

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