Cheaters never prosper in Major League Baseball. Pete Rose broke the rules and has been kept out of the Hall of Fame, and the Chicago Black Sox World Series fixing scandal changed America's Pastime forever. Baseball is a game of integrity and that must be preserved at all costs — even if that means handing out harsh penalties.
The Houston Astros learned that the hard way on Monday, as MLB imposed some of the harshest punishments the league has seen in recent memory after finding the team used technology to cheat during its World Series championship season in 2017.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch have been suspended for one year. Additionally, MLB is fining the organization $5 million and stripping it of its first- and second-round draft picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB drafts. No players were disciplined in the decision.
As The Athletic's Jayson Stark noted, only two other managers have been suspended for one year or longer. Rose was suspended for life for gambling on games in 1989 and Leo Durocher received a one-year ban for inappropriate associations in 1947.
"While no one can dispute that Luhnow's baseball operations department is an industry leader in it analytics, it is very clear to me that the culture of the baseball operations department, manifesting itself in the way its employees are treated, its relations with other Clubs, and its relations with the media and external stakeholders, has been very problematic," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a release.
MLB interviewed dozens of witnesses and reviewed thousands of emails regarding the Astros electronic sign-stealing scandal. MLB Network Insider Joel Sherman noted that the investigation covered the period from 2016 to the present.
MLB is still expected to punish Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who spent the 2017 season as a coach for the Astros and has been implicated in the Astros cheating scandal as well. New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who played for the Astros in 2017, will not be suspended.
How the Astros Stole Signs and Cheated
How did the Astros steal signs? Talkin' Yanks podcast host Jomboy broke down the methods the Astros used to steal signs and relay them to hitters in a video he posted to Twitter. The video uses examples from a regular season game against the Chicago White Sox.
The Astros used a center field camera at Minute Maid Park to steal an opposing catcher's signs. Team personnel would then watch the camera's feed between the clubhouse and Astros' dugout and relay the signs to hitters using a garbage can. Astros hitters would then know what was coming based on the trash can banging they could hear.
It is all very...obvious.
Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers came forward and accused the organization of cheating using electronic equipment in a bombshell story by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. The New York Yankees also complained after noticing weird activity from the 2017 ALCS.
The Astros, who have played in the American League West since 2013, have won 100 or more games from 2017-19 and have been a juggernaut in the playoffs. They beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, which lasted seven games.
The Astros aren't the only team to have been caught cheating using electronic equipment. MLB fined the Boston Red Sox for using Apple Watches to steal signs against the Yankees in 2017. MLB's recent decision on the Astros is similar to the St. Louis Cardinals hacking scandal in which an executive was banned for life and the team forfeited two draft picks and was fined $2 million.
The Astros sign-stealing scandal is the latest stain on an organization plagued by bad public relations. In October, the team fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for comments made toward a female reporter regarding closer Roberto Osuna, who allegedly assaulted the mother of his child.
MLB's decision to crack down on the Astros should send a message to teams around the league looking to gain an illegal leg up on competition: Don't do it.
Astros Fire GM Jeff Luhnow, Manager AJ Hinch
The entire MLB world was shook when it handed out harsh punishments to the Houston Astros. Then, within a matter of hours, the organization decided to make a permanent change.
Astros owner Jim Crane announced both general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were fired.
Cheaters definitely never prosper in MLB.