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Monday, January 27, 2020

Astros moved position of TV cameras to center them for 2017 season

Astros TV camera angle

The Houston Astros’ decision to move the position of their TV cameras for home games for the 2017 season now may take on new meaning in context of the cheating scandal in which they are involved.

Ahead of the 2017 MLB season, the Astros worked with ROOT Sports, the company that broadcast their games, on switching the position of their TV cameras for games at Minute Maid Park.

Prior to 2017, the Astros had a camera angle that was towards the left field side of center, and therefore off to the right for TV viewers. For 2017, they moved to a position high above straightaway center field, giving a direct view of pitches.

A direct view behind above center field would also give a clearer view of the catcher’s signs and therefore make it easier to accurately relay those signs to a hitter.

Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan cited an improved look at the strike zone for viewers and more balanced signage placement behind home plate as reasons for the change.

“We think the new angle will give viewers a better look at the strike zone and advertisers more balanced signage placement,” Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan said of the move via the Houston Chronicle.

“We wanted a new camera angle that improves the strike zone the fans see on TV as well as the benefit of the advertisers getting more value for their signs,” Ryan told MLB.com. “Before, you always had a little bit of brick on the side. It didn’t look centered.”

One might not have thought anything of this development other than it improved viewer experience. However, now that we know how the Astros used the center field camera feed to their advantage, the changed TV camera position raises questions. Was moving the TV camera done to aid the Astros’ ability to clearly see catcher signs, or did the move merely make it easier for the team to steal signs once they decided that was something they wanted to do?

Based on the timeline laid out by The Athletic’s article, the latter would be the case.

Early in the 2017 season, at least two uniformed Astros got together to start the process. One was a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources; another was a coach who wanted to help.

The timing of the Astros changing the position of their TV cameras for home games may be coincidental, but while MLB is conducting its investigation, this is something else they should examine to see whether it was done honestly or with nefarious intentions in mind.



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