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Major League Baseball’s investigation into whether the Houston Astros electronically stole signs in 2017 and beyond seems to expand every day.
The newest layer was added Friday when Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci reported MLB is looking into whether the Astros used a modified system in their alleged sign-stealing scheme during the 2017 playoffs.
A source familiar with the sign-stealing investigation said by midweek that Manfred’s investigators had interviewed “15 to 20” Astros personnel, including the 2017 coaching staff and manager A.J. Hinch—some more than once.
The source said the investigation confirmed the scheme as described by Fiers was used during a period of about three months during the 2017 regular season. The source added that the investigation is also pursuing whether the Astros used modified systems to acquire signs in the 2017 postseason, when scrutiny is heightened and the banging of a trash can would be more manifest.
Verducci notes the Astros were 8-1 at home in the 2017 postseason. That includes two critical wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. On the road, the Astros were 3-6.
It’s an interesting development because there has not been much clarity in regards to the 2017 postseason. The original claims made by former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers and reported by The Athletic on Nov. 12 center around a three-month period during the 2017 regular season. Examination of game footage from that time period strongly indicates the Astros were sending signals to batters by banging a dugout garbage can.
As Verducci points out, those methods would likely stand out more during a postseason game with more fans watching and more people within baseball paying attention.
How the Astros might have modified the system during the 2017 playoffs is not known. Though it’s worth noting the New York Yankees were concerned the Astros were stealing signs during the 2019 ALCS and relaying them to the batter by whistling. The league said it found evidence of whistling, but couldn’t confirm where it was coming from.
On Thursday, we learned the league’s investigation had expanded to the 2018 and 2019 seasons. That could be viewed as confirmation MLB is collecting new evidence supporting the Yankees’ concerns.
The alleged sign-stealing scheme has been met with indifference from some. That includes new Chicago White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal, who was on the losing side of the 2017 World Series with the Dodgers.
But the league itself, which one MLB manager tells Sports Illustrated has done a “very poor job” of enforcing its illegal sign-stealing policy, is seemingly determined to dig up every detail, connect every dot, and potentially make an example of the Astros.
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