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#pounditFriday, December 4, 2020

Articles tagged: Houston Astros cheating scandal

Report: Jeff Luhnow files $22 million lawsuit against Astros

The Houston Astros can’t quite put their sign-stealing scandal behind them, and are now mired in more legal issues stemming from the fallout.

According to TMZ Sports, former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is suing the organization for more than $22 million he says he was owed by the organization at the time of his firing. Luhnow claims the contract he signed in 2018 entitled him to $31 million in guaranteed compensation — money he did not receive when he was fired for cause in 2020.

Luhnow’s suit argues that the Astros had “no basis” to fire the GM, and the team made him the scapegoat despite him claiming ignorance. He claims he was the victim of a “deeply flawed” investigation that saw him fired “even though [he] had no knowledge of — or involvement in — the sign-stealing schemes.” The suit adds that Luhnow was fired while everyone else in the organization, including “video room employees who conceived and orchestrated the sign stealing system,” faced no consequences.

How much Luhnow did or did not know about the sign-stealing operation has consistently been a point of contention. Luhnow has claimed he was not aware it was going on, but there is some evidence that might not be true. MLB also saw fit to suspend him for an entire season based on the results of its investigation.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Jimmy Kimmel asks Dodgers hilarious question during interview

Jimmy Kimmel Dodgers

Jimmy Kimmel had Los Angeles Dodgers star players Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger on for an interview during the week following the team’s World Series win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

The ABC late-night host talked with the Dodgers stars about numerous topics, but things got really funny when he threw a zinger at the Houston Astros.

“Was it easier to win a World Series where the other team wasn’t cheating?” Kimmel humorously asked.

“I guess so, we won, so it must have been easier,” Kershaw said.

“I’d say so,” Bellinger added.

Bellinger was one of the most vocal Dodgers players when it came to calling out the Astros for cheating in the 2017 World Series. The Dodgers lost two World Series in a row — to Houston in 2017 and Boston in 2018 — and finally got their ring this year.

And yes, it’s easier to win when the other team isn’t cheating.

Dodgers’ Andrew Friedman not a fan of Astros’ victim mentality

Andrew Friedman

Andrew Friedman has another bone to pick with the Houston Astros.

The Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations was a guest Friday on SiriusXM’s “Mad Dog Sports.” During his appearance, Friedman called out the Astros for their “no one wants us to win” mentality.

“I think them playing the victim’s complex card is a little interesting to me,” said Friedman, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Like, I get that it’s been a difficult year for them. But to play the victim card, I think has been, you know, a curious strategy.”

The Astros barely snuck into the playoffs this season, going 29-31. But they just advanced to the ALCS by besting the Oakland Athletics in the divisional round. They have been embracing an underdog mindset stemming from the bitterness the rest of the league has towards them for their cheating scandal.

Astros star Carlos Correa has also been gloating at the team’s critics lately. It is definitely rubbing many, like Friedman, whose Dodgers were directly affected by Houston’s actions in the 2017 World Series, the wrong way.

Jose Altuve, George Springer lose top status on video game amid season struggles

Jose Altuve

Some Houston Astros star players are struggling this season, and that has been reflected in reduced player ratings in a popular video game.

“MLB The Show 20” assigns players overall ratings for the game. Anyone who has an 85-or-higher rating receives a diamond; 80-84 is gold; 75-79 is silver; and bronze is 65-74.

Due to their poor starts to the 2020 season, both Jose Altuve and George Springer have dropped from diamond ratings to gold ones.

Altuve was the No. 1-ranked second baseman prior to the start of the season, and his 85 rating made him the only diamond-quality player at the position. With an 85 ranking, Springer also had diamond status. For context, Mike Trout received the highest overall rating at 95, and the next highest players were Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer at 92.

Springer has dropped to an 82 as of the most recent game update, while Altuve is an 81.

The ratings drops make sense given how the players have performed this year.

Springer is batting .189/.338/.377 this season. Altuve is batting .171/.244/.305 and has been dropped to the seventh spot in the team’s lineup. Some fans have a very good idea about the reason for the players’ struggles, though the solid play from Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley runs contrary to the popular theory.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Astros trolled with funny ‘Asterisks’ banner in Oakland

The Houston Astros are getting a rather icy welcome for their weekend series against the Athletics in Oakland.

While the Astros were taking batting practice ahead of Friday’s opener, a funny “Houston Asterisks” banner was flying in the sky above the Oakland Coliseum, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle.

Here is a look at the banner in action:

The Astros and the Athletics are AL West rivals, and the latter lost the division to the former when they were confirmed to have cheated during their 2017 title year. This is the first time the two sides have met this season.

Indeed, the Astros are being shamed up and down the league this year, and they can expect plenty more of it to come, even in a shortened season.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Video: Orel Hershiser burns Astros with zinger about sign stealing

Orel Hershiser

Los Angeles Dodgers TV analyst Orel Hershiser burned the Houston Astros with a sign-stealing zinger on Wednesday.

Jose Altuve was batting for the Astros in the bottom of the fifth inning of their game against the Dodgers and was frozen on a 1-2 pitch by Dylan Floro for a strikeout looking. Dodgers play-by-play announcer Joe Davis speculated that Altuve may have been expecting a different pitch. That led Hershiser to say “guessing’s harder than knowing”.

In one biting phrase, Hershiser made clear the exact issue with what the Astros were doing.

Houston was found to have been cheating by illegally relaying stolen signs in real-time using technology. The difference of knowing what pitch is coming gives a hitter a huge advantage, and the Astros’ hitters seemingly may lack that now. That’s not to say that their hitters are not good players, but being a successful batter is much more difficult when you don’t have the sound of a trash can bang to help you out.

Keep in mind, Hershiser was a pitcher during his career, so he likely takes it more personally than others when hitters cheat to gain an advantage.

Joe Maddon discouraging Angels pitchers from plunking Astros

The temptation around the league to drill the Houston Astros is sky-high, but Joe Maddon would prefer for his players to avoid doing so.

Addressing the media Tuesday, the Los Angeles Angels manager indicated that he is discouraging the team’s pitchers from plunking Astros batters ahead of their upcoming series against Houston, which begins on Saturday.

“We’ve talked about playing baseball, straight up,” said Maddon, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. “That’s what I’m anticipating. That’s all I’m looking for. What happened yesterday [with the LA Dodgers], if you were immediately impacted by [the sign stealing], I could get it a little bit. But then you saw the commissioner’s response, regarding what happened. So you got to choose the method you want to incorporate, and I would prefer that we just go play baseball.”

The Astros’ sign-stealing scandal is back in the news after the Dodgers and pitcher Joe Kelly reignited the flames during their interleague series. The Dodgers had lost the 2017 World Series to the Astros, and the Angels also lost their division to Houston that year, a time when the Astros were confirmed to have been cheating.

The league came down hard on Kelly however, and in a 60-game season where any suspension could hurt their chances of taking the division back from Houston, Maddon is wise to tell his guys to just play ball.

Joc Pederson takes shot at Astros ahead of revenge series

Joc Pederson was part of the Los Angeles Dodgers team that lost in the 2017 World Series to the Houston Astros under shady circumstances, and he still is clearly unwilling to let bygones be bygones.

Speaking Tuesday ahead of the Dodgers’ revenge series against the Astros, Pederson took a subtle shot at the AL juggernauts when asked if the team that wins the 2020 World Series title should have an asterisk by their name. The veteran outfielder said that he did not think so because “they’re not cheating their way to get there.”

The Astros were confirmed by a league investigation to have cheated via the use of illegal sign-stealing technology during the 2017 World Series, which they won in seven tightly-contested games against the Dodgers. This week’s series will mark the first time that the two teams have faced each other since the scandal became public.

Many other Dodgers have offered scathing reactions to what the Astros did, but Pederson’s pre-revenge series dig could be the most ruthless one yet.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Jason Giambi says Astros’ sign-stealing is ‘no different’ than PEDs

Houston Astros logo

How big was the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal? According to one former player, it’s on par with the last great scandal in the sport’s history.

Former Athletics and Yankees slugger Jason Giambi said he was not surprised to hear about the cheating within baseball, and said it was “no different” than the rampant performance-enhancing drug use that tainted the game throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

“Everybody is always looking for an advantage,” Giambi told SNY’s “Baseball Night in New York” show, via Randy Miller of “It’s no different than the PEDs. There’s always going to be things going in this game when you’re talking about people making a lot of money and wanting to win.”

Giambi himself was a PED user, having been outed in the BALCO scandal in late 2004. He admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in 2007.

One has to wonder if players in the game agree with this assessment. At times, PED usage was shrugged off by some because it was so widespread around baseball at a certain point. The same is definitely not true of this, and it’s why some players have advocated much harsher penalties for the ballclub.

The Houston Astros are confirmed cheaters and deserve an asterisk. Send that message by wearing our Houston Asterisks T-shirt! You can buy it here:

Alex Cora suspended for 2020 season for actions with Astros, not Red Sox

Alex Cora

Major League Baseball has completed its investigation into sign-stealing allegations against the Boston Red Sox, and the league announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been suspended for the 2020 season. However, that penalty only stems from Cora’s role in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal in 2017.

MLB announced minimal penalties against the Red Sox that include the loss of a second-round draft pick and a suspension for video replay system operator J.T. Watkins. While Cora was suspended for the entire 2020 season as expected, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred noted that the discipline does not stem from any activity while the manager was in Boston.

In a summary of the findings, Manfred wrote that it was determined that Watkins used the video replay room during some regular season games in 2018 to “revise sign sequence information” that he had legally shared with players prior to games. The information was only relevant when a runner was on second base, and the investigation found that Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff and most players did not know Watkins was illegally using the replay room to update information. Here’s the relevant portion of the summary:

Another noteworthy portion of Manfred’s report stated that the commissioner would not have felt inclined to punish any Red Sox players even if the Commissioner’s Office had not given players immunity in the investigation, such as the league did with the Astros investigation.

Cora was painted as one of the masterminds behind Houston’s cheating scandal, but MLB determined he had very little — if any — involvement in what went on in Boston. Manfred had decided to wait until after the Red Sox investigation to discipline Cora in case Cora was guilty of further violations, and that turned out to not be the case. That should greatly improve his chances of landing another job when he’s reinstated following the 2020 season.