The Athletic: The Astros stole signs electronically in 2017 part of a much broader issue for Major League Baseball

singaporesoxfan

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If I'm the Astros I fire Hinch now - not (just) because of the suspension but because he apparently was so cowed by the players and Cora that he thought the sign-stealing was wrong and yet literally never said anything to anyone about stopping it. That means he is either a totally ineffective, gutless leader or he's a liar who just threw his subordinate under the bus in the hopes of getting a lesser penalty himself. Either way not someone I would want managing my baseball team.
I've seen some stuff here and in the Red Sox forum thread that suggest that Cora was being thrown under the bus by Hinch, but I don't see where that comes from. The MLB report reads like it was well-investigated - even if Hinch had tried to throw Cora under the bus, why would they just take Hinch's word for it? Occam's Razor suggests that the report's conclusion - that Cora was the initiator/instigator of the scheme - seems most likely.
 

amRadio

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Seven outs away from a second World Series to this. What a fall from grace.
Can you imagine how Hinch feels? He pulled a potential HOF pitcher from the game of his life - with a lead! - because of a solo home run and now it's totally within the realm of possibility that he never sees the inside of a MLB dugout again.
 

Al Zarilla

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Gammons just now: “it’s like there was a posse out for Lunow, will be difficult for him to get back into baseball.” AJ Hinch, OTOH, always a well liked guy.
 

StuckOnYouk

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I blame the Yankees for starting this crap in 2015!

Heard a blurb on WEEI from a baseball writer (Mark Feinsand?) that they believe as many as 7-8 teams were doing illegal sign stealing in 2017 or 2018 based on interviews with players, but they don't have enough evidence yet to peg those teams.
 

BigJimEd

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If I'm the Astros I fire Hinch now - not (just) because of the suspension but because he apparently was so cowed by the players and Cora that he thought the sign-stealing was wrong and yet literally never said anything to anyone about stopping it. That means he is either a totally ineffective, gutless leader or he's a liar who just threw his subordinate under the bus in the hopes of getting a lesser penalty himself. Either way not someone I would want managing my baseball team.
Yeah, I really don't get the Hinch statement. He disliked it so much he broke monitors but didn't say anything to his bench coach and/or players????


I think Cora is done here.
 

Al Zarilla

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MLBN saying Cora came up with the monitor in or near the dugout and the trash can banging signaling method. The monitor was to show the opposing catcher’s signs, must be. Good work, Alex.
 

Average Reds

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Yeah, I really don't get the Hinch statement. He disliked it so much he broke monitors but didn't say anything to his bench coach and/or players????
There are some holes in the story, but I imagine that we'll eventually be able to fill them in. And I think at least part of the answer is staring us in the face.

The story about Hinch being so opposed to the sign-stealing system that he made his displeasure known by breaking a monitor leads to the inescapable conclusion that the decisions regarding the sign-stealing were being made at a level above him. We also know that Luhnow (two levels above Hinch) appears to be only vaguely familiar with the scheme.

Whether accurate or not, I suspect that we're going to learn that Taubman is being fingered as Keyser Soze by the Astros. (Although MLB's punishment of Luhnow and Hinch tells me that they didn't buy it.)
 

hbk72777

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Apparently every social media outlet that reports on baseball isn't on your reading list. This is widely being regarded as a slap on the wrist by most fans.

Yeah, I just replied to a bunch of people on twitter that the loss of draft picks cold be franchise altering for almost a decade.

Twitter is made up of the people that call in to sports radio shows
 

hbk72777

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I blame the Yankees for starting this crap in 2015!

Heard a blurb on WEEI from a baseball writer (Mark Feinsand?) that they believe as many as 7-8 teams were doing illegal sign stealing in 2017 or 2018 based on interviews with players, but they don't have enough evidence yet to peg those teams.

In the words of Jesse Ventura "it's only cheating if you get caught"
 

jon abbey

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Give me a break. Right after they wipe all of your starts with A-Rod in the lineup, Phil.
To be clear, he is just joking, he is a funny guy on Twitter. Since it's not totally clear, when he writes "seriously though it's bad", he means his numbers against those guys, not their cheating.
 

Marciano490

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I’m not sure I get the lack of player discipline. The Astros are loaded with stars. You’re telling me Altuve or Correa were worried about playing time or their careers if they didn’t go along?
 

Hoya81

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To be clear, he is just joking, he is a funny guy on Twitter. Since it's not totally clear, when he writes "seriously though it's bad", he means his numbers against those guys, not their cheating.
Ah ok.
 

OurF'ingCity

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I've seen some stuff here and in the Red Sox forum thread that suggest that Cora was being thrown under the bus by Hinch, but I don't see where that comes from. The MLB report reads like it was well-investigated - even if Hinch had tried to throw Cora under the bus, why would they just take Hinch's word for it? Occam's Razor suggests that the report's conclusion - that Cora was the initiator/instigator of the scheme - seems most likely.
Right but that raises the question of why Hinch didn't just say, "hey, Alex, I'm your boss and I'm telling you to please stop." And go to management if that didn't work. Anyway, Hinch is gone so obviously the Astros agreed with my larger point that there was no way he could continue effectively being the manager after the suspension ends.
 

jon abbey

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Olney is saying on Twitter that many in MLB think the punishment is too light. My only issue is with Beltran, I get that he was a player at the time but it is super bad optics to have him managing the Mets next year when he and Cora were the main people behind this (from reports).
 

Brand Name

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A.J. Hinch, crossed the line, Luhnow gone, heavy fine

Draft picks lost, rings are not, owner sad for getting caught

Crane denied part in team's making up the clanging scheme

Taubman censured in the text, Cora, Beltran might be next

We didn't blame Mike Fiers

Can was always banging, since the curveball’s hanging

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers

No, we didn’t hush it, but our barrels crushed it!

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers...
 

OurF'ingCity

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Also to put on my "angry Pats fan hat" for a moment, let's not lose sight of the fact that MLB was able to address its findings and conclusions cogently and clearly in a 9-page document after an in-house, two month investigation. The Deflategate investigation - which by anyone but the biggest Pats hater's reckoning had essentially no in-game impact - took over four-months and resulted in a fucking 139-page document PLUS a separate 82-page "expert" report. MLB isn't a perfect league by any stretch of the imagination but their handling of disciplinary investigations is light years' better than the NFL's.
 

amRadio

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Luhnow via ESPN.com:
"I did not know rules were being broken...The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management; the trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach.

"I am deeply upset that I wasn't informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it."

While I do hope Cora is fired, the bus that hit him was cold and fast.



A.J. Hinch, crossed the line, Luhnow gone, heavy fine

Draft picks lost, rings are not, owner sad for getting caught

Crane denied part in team's making up the clanging scheme

Taubman censured in the text, Cora, Beltran might be next

We didn't blame Mike Fiers

Can was always banging, since the curveball’s hanging

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers

No, we didn’t hush it, but our barrels crushed it!

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers...

This is amazing. Billy Joel would be proud.
 

TheDivision

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Luhnow via ESPN.com:
"I did not know rules were being broken...The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management; the trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach.

"I am deeply upset that I wasn't informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it."
Maybe it would have been better if he just owned up to it and responded by saying something along the lines of – Although, I did not have direct knowledge, I take full responsibility as GM of the organization.

(His ESPN comments can be disputed by the MLB Report though ) “there is both documentary and testimonial evidence that indicates Luhnow had some knowledge of those efforts, but he did not give it much attention”

Edit: cleaned it up
 

Oil Can Dan

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Also to put on my "angry Pats fan hat" for a moment, let's not lose sight of the fact that MLB was able to address its findings and conclusions cogently and clearly in a 9-page document after an in-house, two month investigation. The Deflategate investigation - which by anyone but the biggest Pats hater's reckoning had essentially no in-game impact - took over four-months and resulted in a fucking 139-page document PLUS a separate 82-page "expert" report. MLB isn't a perfect league by any stretch of the imagination but their handling of disciplinary investigations is light years' better than the NFL's.
Stop. This isn’t about the Patriots.
 

TheDivision

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Maybe it would have been better if he just owned up to it and responded by saying something along the lines of – Although, I did not have direct knowledge, I take full responsibility as GM of the organization.

(His ESPN comments can be disputed by the MLB Report though ) “there is both documentary and testimonial evidence that indicates Luhnow had some knowledge of those efforts, but he did not give it much attention”

Edit: cleaned it up
Okay here's Luhnow's full statement in which he clearly opened his statement by accepting full responsibility.

"I accept responsibility for rules violations that occurred on my watch as President of Baseball Operations and General Manager of the Astros. I apologize to the Astros organization, Astros fans and the Houston community for the shame and embarrassment this has caused. I am deeply grateful to Jim Crane for the opportunity to lead baseball operations.

I am not a cheater. Anybody who has worked closely with me during my 32-year career inside and outside baseball can attest to my integrity. I did not know rules were being broken. As the Commissioner set out in his statement, I did not personally direct, oversee or engage in any misconduct: The sign-stealing initiative was not planned or directed by baseball management; the trash-can banging was driven and executed by players, and the video decoding of signs originated and was executed by lower-level employees working with the bench coach. I am deeply upset that I wasn’t informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it.

I agree with Mr. Crane that our baseball operations team has achieved far more positives beyond this significant negative. Many very good people have worked, and continue to work, for the Astros organization. I am extremely proud of the many executives throughout the industry who were trained and promoted in our department."

Source
 

InstaFace

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He's just trying to cubically transform his ERA down to 2.50.
That's 35 minutes from tweet to joke - those who had the over, please collect your winnings.

A.J. Hinch, crossed the line, Luhnow gone, heavy fine

Draft picks lost, rings are not, owner sad for getting caught

Crane denied part in team's making up the clanging scheme

Taubman censured in the text, Cora, Beltran might be next

We didn't blame Mike Fiers

Can was always banging, since the curveball’s hanging

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers

No, we didn’t hush it, but our barrels crushed it!

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers...
Great, maybe you can explain to my wife why I just spat seltzer all over my laptop.

(absolutely outstanding, though, seriously)

As for Luhnow's self-serving statement, I think Manfred's description of his front office, which seemed to bear more resemblance to Wolf of Wall Street than a place full of accountability, stands as response enough to his assertion that he "would have stopped it". Stopped long enough to give the ringleader a promotion and then discuss a cover-up, we may presume.
 

Soxfan in Fla

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A.J. Hinch, crossed the line, Luhnow gone, heavy fine

Draft picks lost, rings are not, owner sad for getting caught

Crane denied part in team's making up the clanging scheme

Taubman censured in the text, Cora, Beltran might be next

We didn't blame Mike Fiers

Can was always banging, since the curveball’s hanging

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers

No, we didn’t hush it, but our barrels crushed it!

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers...
This is just amazing. Lol.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Passan with a piece on how other franchises are seething that Houston got off easy:
Multiple ownership-level sources told ESPN that dissatisfaction with the penalties had emerged following a conference call with Manfred, in which he explained how the Astros would be disciplined, then told teams to keep their thoughts to themselves.

"The impression," one person familiar with the call told ESPN, "was that the penalty for complaining would be more than Houston got."

The concern over any possible discipline for breaking ranks didn't entirely silence teams. At 12:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost the 2017 World Series in seven games to an Astros team that MLB's investigation confirmed cheated during that postseason, released a statement that read: "All clubs have been asked by Major League Baseball not to comment on today's punishment of the Houston Astros as it's inappropriate to comment on discipline imposed on another club. The Dodgers have also been asked not to comment on any wrongdoing during the 2017 World Series and will have no further comment at this time."

Run through a passive-aggressive translator, the Dodgers' words mirrored what a team president had said earlier in the day.

"Crane won," he said. "The entire thing was programmed to protect the future of the franchise. He got his championship. He keeps his team. His fine is nothing. The sport lost, but Crane won."
"It will scare employees of MLB teams from cheating, at least for a while," one high-ranking executive said, "and the man who owns the team gets to enjoy his ring. He gets off lightly and can start with a clean slate."

This refrain was common inside the game, and it came with a question that was rhetorical-but-not-really, one that illustrated how Jim Crane won the day that his franchise lost. How many owners in baseball would trade $5 million, four high draft picks and the firing of their GM and manager in exchange for a World Series title?

Twenty-five? Twenty-eight? All 30? "I don't know that I would," one team president said, "but I don't know that I wouldn't." It was an honest answer. The decisions made in search of championships, in service of winning, are complicated. Right and wrong blur. It's why Manfred chafes at the complaints of owners. How many are being honest about what they'd do in that same scenario?
I hope Manfred is better equipped to deal with this than Goodell.
 

uncannymanny

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How many owners in baseball would trade $5 million, four high draft picks and the firing of their GM and manager in exchange for a World Series title?
This is idiotic. As if "Twenty-five? Twenty-eight? All 30?" teams could make this deal. The Astros still had an megafuckton on talent on the roster.
 

InstaFace

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Right. How many of them would trade that for a 10% increase in their world series odds? Far fewer, I'd wager. And that's a pretty generous reckoning of the impact this could have had, especially given the monitoring of replay cameras by MLB in place during the postseason(s). (actually, was that during 2017, or just 2018 and 2019?)

A forced team sale a la Donald Sterling was probably never considered for more than a moment. Crane was not personally implicated, wasn't all over TMZ or the nightly news, and so his continued ownership was not going to remain a stain on the league. His name recognition among non-Houston baseball fans is probably like 5%.
 

crow216

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Right. How many of them would trade that for a 10% increase in their world series odds? Far fewer, I'd wager. And that's a pretty generous reckoning of the impact this could have had, especially given the monitoring of replay cameras by MLB in place during the postseason(s). (actually, was that during 2017, or just 2018 and 2019?)

A forced team sale a la Donald Sterling was probably never considered for more than a moment. Crane was not personally implicated, wasn't all over TMZ or the nightly news, and so his continued ownership was not going to remain a stain on the league. His name recognition among non-Houston baseball fans is probably like 5%.
There's no actual proof that the monitoring stopped the cheating - or that the cheating was effective in the first place. I just want to be careful about the assumption that the teams couldn't figure a workaround if there was a dope sitting next to one of their guys. I browse the internet all day and I sit next to my boss.
 

InstaFace

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Yes, there are a lot of variables with uncertainty. But all that does is underscore that it's not as simple a matter as "would you accept X penalties in exchange for a WS title?". There are a lot of probabilities involved. The Astros' scheme may have had an impact, it may not (I'd like to see some attempts to estimate it, but right now we don't know), but one thing it didn't do was guarantee a title.
 

EvilEmpire

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The penalty was heavy, but I can see why other owners are pissed at Crane. I think the penalties were about right overall, but if Manfred had suspended Crane from baseball activities for a year or something (sort of like Steinbrenner, but for different reasons), I think it would have been better.
 

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Right. How many of them would trade that for a 10% increase in their world series odds? Far fewer, I'd wager. And that's a pretty generous reckoning of the impact this could have had, especially given the monitoring of replay cameras by MLB in place during the postseason(s). (actually, was that during 2017, or just 2018 and 2019?)
People are looking at this from an organizational level and saying "who wouldn't make that trade?"

But you need coaches and players to help implement it. I don't think you coaches and managers aren't going to be lining up to cheat again, after Hinch and Cora get heavy suspensions and are basically unemployable in MLB. These suspensions are going to ruin their bright, young careers.
 

InstaFace

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The penalty was heavy, but I can see why other owners are pissed at Crane. I think the penalties were about right overall, but if Manfred had suspended Crane from baseball activities for a year or something (sort of like Steinbrenner, but for different reasons), I think it would have been better.
That's why I still like the proposal of a postseason ban for a season or two, because I think that's a real deterrent to the business side of the organization. Even when you build a winning roster, you still won't be able to collect the massive amounts of money from postseason participation.

Suspensions of owners are kinda farcical. It's like tossing a manager from the game and having them still relaying in decisions from the clubhouse. Even if they don't go full "Bobby Valentine in disguise with Groucho glasses", there's no real impact to the organization and their lives are pretty much all the same except being able to host people while sitting in their owner's box. Big whoop.
 

Hoya81

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Right. How many of them would trade that for a 10% increase in their world series odds? Far fewer, I'd wager. And that's a pretty generous reckoning of the impact this could have had, especially given the monitoring of replay cameras by MLB in place during the postseason(s). (actually, was that during 2017, or just 2018 and 2019?)

A forced team sale a la Donald Sterling was probably never considered for more than a moment. Crane was not personally implicated, wasn't all over TMZ or the nightly news, and so his continued ownership was not going to remain a stain on the league. His name recognition among non-Houston baseball fans is probably like 5%.
I’d be curious as to what these executives would consider a fair punishment.

Vacating the title opens up way too many problems for historical schemes like known spitballers, batters caught with corked bats and so on before you even get to PEDs.
 

loshjott

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A.J. Hinch, crossed the line, Luhnow gone, heavy fine

Draft picks lost, rings are not, owner sad for getting caught

Crane denied part in team's making up the clanging scheme

Taubman censured in the text, Cora, Beltran might be next

We didn't blame Mike Fiers

Can was always banging, since the curveball’s hanging

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers

No, we didn’t hush it, but our barrels crushed it!

We didn’t blame Mike Fiers...
This is all over my Twitter feed from Matt Sussman.
 

OurF'ingCity

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Yeah I really don't know what the other teams want. Crane suspended? That basically means, what, he can't watch the games in person for a year? Doesn't seem to significantly move the needle.

Vacate the 2017 title? Not sure how you could do that given that we don't really know to what degree the scheme changed the outcome, and in any event no American professional sports team has ever had a title vacated to my knowledge and I doubt anyone in MLB wants to open that can of worms, especially given past cheating that were equally or more game-determinative as Hoya notes.

Postseason ban? This runs into the same problems as the "vacate the title" option and also would almost certainly cause the Astros to go nuclear and sue the league given the massive financial implications - it's not entirely clear that MLB would even be permitted to do that under the relevant provisions of the MLB constitution, although they are extremely vague.
 

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Forgive me if this has been covered, but why have no players involved been punished?
 

Wingack

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Forgive me if this has been covered, but why have no players involved been punished?
Also, I think that then it gets really messy and you really start hurting other teams if a former Astros player is now on another team. It stinks if Cora is suspended for a year, but the Sox can win without him.

Suspending Dallas Keuchel or Charlie Morton would significantly punish their new teams, if they were involved in what was going on in 2017.