Former pitcher for the Houston Astros, Mike Fiers, claims that the Astros were using technology such as cameras and monitors to steal signs in 2017. The Houston Astros ended up winning the 2017 Major League Baseball World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.
Fiers is accusing the Astros of using center field cameras to feed video to a monitor near their dugout to read pitching signs from the catcher, and then rely those signs to batters during the game through the use of sounds or signs from the dugout.
Who is Mike Fiers?
Fiers is a pitcher that played for the Houston Astros during the 2017 season, and he is the one that is leaking the news that the Astros may have cheated during their World Series championship run in 2017. He is a nine year veteran of the game, and he is most notably well known for throwing two no hitters as a relatively average Major League Baseball player.
He currently pitches for the Oakland Athletics. It has been reported that Fiers has a strained relationship with the Houston Astros after his release from the team following their World Series championship in 2017 as he was non tendered after the 2017 MLB season. Fiers claims he is trying to clean up the game despite any bad feelings he harbors towards the Houston Astros.
Stealing Signs in Major League Baseball
Stealing signs from the catcher in Major League Baseball is one of those unwritten rules of the game, and it has been a long time part of the sport’s tradition. Although that is the case, teams are not supposed to be able to steal signs with the use of technology as the Houston Astros are currently being accused of doing. If found to be true this type of behavior may have implications that can affect the MLB record books as well as future punishments to the Houston Astros franchise.
It is extremely surprising to me that the leading investigation into these sign stealing allegations is being led by the Houston Astros organization. On Tuesday, November 12th, 2019 the Houston Astros have publicly stated that they are launching an investigation into this matter. The person investigating the allegations is Jeff Luhnow who is the Houston Astros general manager and head of baseball operations. We will have to wait and see if Major League Baseball will investigate these matters on their own or by using an independent source to verify if the Astros violated the official rules of baseball or not.
"I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they're going in there not knowing," Fiers explained. "Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It's [B.S.] on that end. It's ruining jobs for younger guys. The guys who know are more prepared. But most people don't. That's why I told my team. We had a lot of young guys with Detroit [in 2018] trying to make a name and establish themselves. I wanted to help them out and say, 'Hey, this stuff really does go on. Just be prepared.'"
"Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball," says the Houston Astros in a statement recently released. "It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time."
"I have heard what you all have heard, which is allegations," says the Houston Astros general manager, Jeff Luhnow. "This isn't the first one I heard and it's not the first one you all have heard. Like I said, I think the best course of action is not to speculate right now. We are going to look into it with cooperation of the MLB and we will find out what there is."
"That's not playing the game the right way," Fiers stated. "They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win."
"I hope it doesn't," Luhnow exclaimed. "We have a lot of great players, we have a really good manager and fan base and we have accomplished a lot. I think that stands for itself; I'm hopeful we will find out exactly what happened and we will address it if it needs to be addressed and we can move on. The reason we won the World Series in 2017 [was] Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman and Justin Verlander, and we have a lot of great players. They do things the right way, and we as an organization, that's what we aspire to do as well."
"We were playing defense, we were not playing offense," Luhnow expressed. "We wanted to make sure it was a level playing field. ... We look around to make sure there's nothing suspicious going on. We want to make sure our signs aren't getting stolen."
"So we do it every stadium we go into. We dispatch someone from the travel party to go out to center field, look at a particular area that might be suspicious or a certain monitor. I'm sure other clubs do this as well, but we're just trying to protect ourselves the best we can."
"We may never know of [Taubman's] intent. ... What we really don't know is the intent behind the inappropriate comments he made."
“Ex-Astros pitcher Mike Fiers: Team stole signs with camera”, Jeff Passan, November 12, 2019.
“MLB shouldn't expect much from Astros investigating their own cheating”, Buster Olney, espn.com, November 13, 2019.