HOUSTON – The Boston Red Sox were warned that a man credentialed by the Houston Astros might try to steal signs or information from their dugout after the Cleveland Indians caught him taking pictures of their dugout with a cellphone camera during Game 3 of the American League Division Series, sources with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports.
A photograph obtained by Yahoo Sports showed a man named Kyle McLaughlin aiming a cell phone into Cleveland’s dugout during the Indians’ 11-3 loss that ended their season. McLaughlin was the same man caught taking pictures near the Red Sox’s dugout during Game 1 of the AL Championship Series, which was first reported by the Metro Times. McLaughlin was removed by security in Cleveland and Boston, sources said.
While McLaughlin is not listed publicly as an Astros employee, photographs on his Instagram account (which has since been deleted) showed him wearing an Astros ID badge as he posed for a picture in 2016 with Astros owner Jim Crane. In another photo, McLaughlin is standing next to a private plane with logos for the Astros and two companies owned by Crane, Crane Worldwide Logistics and Crane Capital Group. McLaughlin removed “Houston Astros” from his biography on his Instagram page Tuesday night.
It was the culmination of a series of events that cast aspersions on the defending World Series champions, who have been accused of cheating by at least one other organization this season, sources told Yahoo Sports. Major League Baseball, which was made aware of McLaughlin taking the photograph in the Indians’ dugout before the ALCS, declined comment. An Astros spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. McLaughlin did not respond to messages left on two social-media accounts.
MLB significantly beefed up its security presence at Game 3 on Tuesday, according to a league source with knowledge of its staff, sending three people from its baseball-operations office and another six security personnel to monitor the game. The league stationed an employee in each of the teams’ video-review rooms, according to the source. The paranoia among teams, the source said, “is like the NFL these days. Every club thinks the other club is cheating.”
This is not the first investigation into the Astros’ attempts to gain competitive advantages this season, three sources told Yahoo Sports. During a late-August game against Oakland, A’s players noticed Astros players clapping in the dugout before pitches and believed they were relaying stolen signs to pitchers in the batter’s box, sources said. The A’s called the league, which said it would investigate the matter. It’s unclear what the result of the investigation was or whether it remains ongoing.
Two major league players said they have witnessed the Astros hitting a trash can in the dugout in recent years and believe it is a way to relay signals to hitters. The Los Angeles Dodgers also believed the Astros were stealing signs during the World Series last season, according to two sources.
MLB has attempted and failed to corroborate such accounts, the league source said. Other teams, the source said, have been accused of similar actions. The Red Sox were fined last season for using an Apple Watch in a sign-stealing scheme against the New York Yankees.
Teams around the league are perhaps more wary of the Astros than any team, fearful that their employment of cameras – they use high-speed models made by Edgertronic to help evaluate players, according to sources – allows them to steal signs. MLB has not punished the Astros for any illegal behavior, sources told Yahoo Sports.
When asked about the Metro Times report after Boston’s 8-2 victory to take a 2-1 lead in the ALCS, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said: “I’m aware of something going on, but I haven’t been briefed. I’m worried about the game.” Asked about McLaughlin being caught near their dugout, Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski told Yahoo Sports that “It’s in MLB’s hands now” and declined further comment.
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