The Astros are stupid. If they were cheating in 2017 or 2018 or 2019, as documented in various Youtube videos (see below), they are stupid. Morons. Idiots.
I should mention up front that I’ve been an Astros fan for years, and I followed the runs to the World Series in ’17 and ’19.
There’s still some doubt about the validity and extent of the allegations posed by the videos. MLB is investigating, for better or worse; if you’ve seen some weird rulings come back from New York on video replays, you may be thinking the latter.
Anyhow, the allegation is that the Astros used cameras to feed opposing catchers’ signs to the dugout hallway, where a staffer smacked a trashcan or made some other signal to indicate what kind of pitch was coming. “The banging was fairly dumb,” said Jomboy, the blogger who made the video posted below, but other techniques could’ve involved any number of communication methods.
My assertion is that the Astros aren’t all that smart if this is true. This is one of the most boneheaded schemes ever, trashcans or no. If it happened as presented, it involved about 40 players, coaches, and staff, all of whom could spill the beans or change teams (and possibly resent the Astros) at the drop of a hat. With video surveillance, stadium and MLB staff everywhere, and comprehensive recordings of every game, how did they think this would ever fly?
The other thing that astounds me about the magnitude of the scandal is that the Red Sox got caught doing pretty much exactly the same thing in 2017.
And why would a team every think that this would be a good course of action? There’s a strong strain of “everyone else is doing it,” of course. But MLB was already on the case. And… it’s cheating. And childish. And fairly transparent.
The Astros have been a bit of a magnet for controversy in recent years. People hate them for being mostly unbeatable. People hate them for doing things their own way, being strongly statistics-driven, and allegedly tanking games during their rebuild to stock up on high draft picks.
A bit of the hatred for the Astros comes from that smart-kid statshead bias. People don’t like admitting that some stats-cruncher is using computers and spreadsheets to win sports championships.
Well, they don’t look so smart now. We’ll see what MLB says, but if this goes the way it seems to be going, it’s gonna be a long offseason.
UPDATE: It’s pretty much as described, and MLB has come down as hard as they could. Hinch and Luhnow are gone, and hopefully so is this era of chicanery. Cora and the arrogant players who supported this scheme have Blacksoxed the 2017 championship for me. Get ready to see fans wearing trashcans instead of paper bags over their heads at Astros games next year.