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'Trashgate' And Sign-Stealing: MLB's Latest Scandal

Jan 17, 2020

Baseball’s sign-stealing scandal. We look at what’s fair and what’s foul in the state of baseball and sport.

Guests

Jeremy Schaap, host of the ESPN newsmagazines “Outside the Lines” and “E:60.” (@JeremySchaap)

Eduardo Pérez, played 13 seasons in the MLB for eight teams. Coached the Astros and the Marlins. ESPN baseball analyst. (PerezEd)

Del Wilber, reporter for the Los Angeles Times. His grandfather was a former player, coach and manager in the MLB. (@DelWilber)

From The Reading List

NBC News: “Astros execs were fired for stealing signs. What about the players?” — “Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine remembers the lengths to which his lefty pitcher Al Leiter would go to protect his arsenal of pitches when the team played on the road. Leiter wanted to change the signs so many times that it drove his catchers crazy.

“‘I promise you, when Al Leiter went into some stadiums, he was so paranoid that the other team had our signs, Mike Piazza wanted to whack Leiter when he went to the mound for a visit,’ Valentine said in an interview Tuesday.

“His comments came a day after Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for the entire 2020 season, without pay, for their involvement in an electronic sign-stealing operation in 2017 and 2018. Pitchers lose the element of surprise if their signs are stolen, giving batters a huge advantage because they know what pitch is coming.”

New York Times: “Houston Astros Cheating Scandal: Sign-Stealing, Firings and Other Questions” — “The Houston Astros, coming off World Series appearances in two of the past three seasons and a championship in 2017, fired both their manager and general manager on Monday after the franchise was fined $5 million and docked several top draft picks for a sign-stealing scheme.

“The team’s dismissal of Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow came a little over an hour after they were suspended for one year by Robert D. Manfred, the Major League Baseball commissioner.

“And on Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox parted ways with Manager Alex Cora, one day after the M.L.B. report implicated him in the scandal from his time as the Astros’ bench coach in 2017.”

The Atlantic: “The Case Against Stripping the Astros of Their World Series Title” — “Monday afternoon, the Major League Baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, handed out the stiffest penalties for in-game misconduct in the sport’s recent history. The guilty party was the Houston Astros, who during their 2017 championship season designed a system of stealing opposing teams’ pitching signs and relaying them to their own hitters.

“Their means of gathering the data were modern (the team used a high-definition camera to beam images to monitors in the dugout), and their means of dispensing them were old-school (players banged on trash cans in a kind of Morse code). Manfred found that both Houston’s general manager, Jeff Luhnow, and its manager, A. J. Hinch, knew of the plan and failed to stop it; Lunhow and Hinch were suspended for a year by the MLB and, hours later, fired by the Astros themselves.

“Manfred also took away the team’s top draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and levied a fine against the organization: $5 million, the largest he’s authorized to impose. (In the face of an ongoing investigation involving the Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, a former Astros coach, using similar techniques during Boston’s 2018 title run, the team fired Cora last night.)”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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