Anatomy of an Astros cheating rumor: ‘Carlos Beltran’s niece’ is actually a phony Twitter account
The sports world went wild on Thursday with allegations that some of the Houston Astros’ top players wore electronic buzzing devices that communicated what pitch was coming during their at-bats. The allegations of this extremely advanced form of high-tech cheating actually had been around for two months, but the story received widespread attention on Thursday thanks to a push from a mysterious Twitter account that seemingly had new credibility.
In this story, we will get to the bottom of the Twitter account responsible for the rumor, and help set the record straight, giving you the facts of the situation.
ELECTRONIC BUZZER ALLEGATION HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE NOVEMBER
The earliest we heard about the buzzer allegation came in a November 18 article by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Sherman did not state that the Astros had definitively used buzzers, but he said he was told by scouts and executives about methods that may have been or could be used to communicate stolen signs.
From Sherman’s article:
In recent days I have had scouts and executives talk to me about a variety of methods they think have been or could be employed, such as a realistic-looking electronic bandage placed on a player’s body that buzzes in real time to signal what is coming — one buzz for a fastball, for example — if the surveillance determines what type of pitching is coming.
Sherman’s detail was somewhat buried in a longer opinion column from Sherman about why the commissioner should hit the Astros hard with penalties, so it’s easy to see why this information was overlooked. It also was published two days after the Colin Kaepernick workout fell through and Tua Tagovailoa’s hip injury, so it was missed by many.
TREVOR BAUER ALSO HINTED AT THE ALLEGATION
Bauer, who is one of the more outspoken players in MLB and has accused the Astros of cheating going back to 2018, hinted at this rumor as well. The same day Sherman’s story came out, Bauer posted a video joking about how he was going to play cards and how he had a bandage taped to his chest that would help him find out what cards his opponents had.
Got my good luck Darth Vader bandaid on tonight pic.twitter.com/Qc2dV5HSjU
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) November 18, 2019
Nobody really talked about the electronic buzzer story until the subject popped back up this week thanks to Michael Kay spreading a rumor on his radio/TV show.
YANKEES EMPLOYEE BROUGHT THE JOSE ALTUVE VIDEO TO LIGHT ON WEDNESDAY
The now-infamous video of Jose Altuve making sure his teammates didn’t rip off his jersey after a walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman to send the Astros to the World Series last season received attention thanks to a Yankees employee.
On Wednesday, Michael Kay, who is the Yankees’ TV play-by-play announcer and also hosts a radio show on ESPN Radio New York that is simulcast on YES Network (which is owned by the Yankees), essentially set the rumor in motion. Kay says baseball sources he spoke to heard Altuve screaming at his teammates, telling them not to rip off his shirt. Kay openly speculated whether Altuve said that because the All-Star didn’t want the buzzer exposed.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) January 15, 2020
So far, we have one reporter sharing a rumor, a player hinting at a rumor, and a Yankees announcer spreading the same rumor.
So why did the story blow up on Thursday? It has to do with a mysterious Twitter account.
‘CARLOS BELTRAN’S NIECE’ SUPPOSEDLY SAID SO
A Twitter account that, since at least October, had presented itself as Carlos Beltran’s niece, was at the center of Thursday’s rumors.
This Twitter account supposedly said on October 29 that Beltran was the Mets’ new manager. The news was finally leaked to reporters three days later on November 1. The account also tweeted on Wednesday that Beltran would be stepping down as Mets manager. That news did not come out until Thursday.
By that point, the Twitter account posing as “Carlos Beltran’s niece” had gained some credibility for accurately predicting Beltran’s hiring and firing before anyone else by at least a day.
Maybe they had inside information or maybe they just happened to get lucky twice. After all, it wasn’t hard to predict Beltran would end up stepping down.
But this Twitter account isn’t really Carlos Beltran’s niece, and the thought that it was never really made sense.
The account had been around since at least 2017. Before it flipped to posing as Beltran’s niece, it sent nasty tweets, such as this one:
— Popeyes Man (@KingOfThePoors) January 17, 2020
In March, some people on Twitter figured out the account was one of many burner accounts belonging to Incarcerated Bob, a total phony and infamous rumor monger, and called him out accordingly.
Be careful what you read… that @S0_Blessed1 account isn’t Beltran’s niece or a player. It’s Incarcerated Bob’s burner account. Over the past year, he has used this account among others to argue with people who criticized him on Twitter. The buzzers may be real, but not the page pic.twitter.com/YY5UgzNomf
— ً (@NYYDJ2) January 17, 2020
Incarcerated Bob is a phony name for a person who is involved in running a sports gambling operation online. Bob, who is also a caller to “The Michael Kay Show,” has several different Twitter accounts and uses them for various purposes. Sometimes he uses some of his “burners” to defend his main account in an effort to make the “Incarcerated Bob” character seem more credible. Sometimes he gives out one gambling pick from one Twitter account, but the opposing team as the pick from another Twitter account. He’s a total phony and fraud, and it benefits him to spread fake news and rumors online because idiots share/retweet the information, and Bob picks up followers. Bob then can turn those idiots into customers.
The worst part is when real media outlets pick up on his phony rumors and spread them, which happens a lot because sites are hungry for pageviews, and they often don’t care about the credibility of a source behind the rumor.
Don’t believe me about how flimsy Bob’s info is? SB Nation once played a trick on him and he took their bait. David Purdum, a legitimate gambling reporter who writes for ESPN, once did a takedown piece on Bob that you should read.
So that’s who is behind the rumor saying Altuve and Alex Bregman wore buzzers by their right shoulder.
ASSESSING THE ALTUVE RUMOR
The video of Altuve is no doubt incredibly suspicious. The guy seemed to go to great lengths to avoid having his jersey ripped, to change his shirt in private, and he stumbled over a question in his postgame interview.
The Astros were doing a bunch of crap, at the forefront of cheating using technology, and do not deserve the benefit of the doubt.
The electronic buzzer rumor has some credibility because Sherman, Bauer, Kay and Jomboy all say they have heard about it. But it is not any more credible, much less real, because a phony Twitter account claiming to be Carlos Beltran’s niece said so. That part of the story is garbage.