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#pounditWednesday, November 25, 2020

MLB drops hammer on Astros over stealing signs during World Series season in 2017

AJ Hinch

Major League Baseball has concluded its investigation into the sign-stealing practices the Houston Astros engaged in during their World Series championship season in 2017, and the punishment is even harsher than many expected.

MLB has announced that Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow have both been suspended for the entire 2020 season. Houston will also be fined $5 million, which is the maximum amount allowed under MLB’s constitution, and forced to forfeit its first- and second-round draft picks in both the 2020 and 2021 MLB Drafts. In addition, former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman has been placed on baseball’s ineligible list.

No players were disciplined, as MLB chose to focus on management even though its report stated that witnesses consistently described the scheme involving banging on a trash can to relay signals to the hitter as “player-driven.” The exception to that is Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was a member of Houston’s coaching staff at the time. MLB also made it clear that everyone on the team knew what was going on.

The Astros will not be forced to vacate their 2017 World Series title.

While no discipline has been announced for Cora yet, it is undoubtedly coming. MLB will now shift its attention to investigating the allegations that the Red Sox stole signs electronically during their World Series season in 2018, and Cora’s punishment will be determined when that is concluded. It’s conceivable that he could face the most significant disciplinary action of anyone involved.

MLB confirmed what everyone already knew, which is that Astros players used video technology to decode signs used by opponents and banged on a trash can near the clubhouse to relay the information to their hitters. Cora is the one who arranged for a video room technician to install a monitor near Houston’s dugout that displayed a video feed from a camera in center field that was focused on the opposing team’s catcher.

While Hinch has been suspended for the entire 2020 season, MLB’s investigation determined that he did not approve of a monitor being used to decode signs and physically damaged the monitor on two occasions to show it. However, he admits he did not put a stop to it even after MLB issued a memo reminding teams of its policy on sign stealing after the Red Sox were caught using a FitBit in 2017.

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