Ever since the 2017 scandal broke out, fans of the Houston Astros cannot catch a break. Anger from all of the MLB community has been fired at the players, club, and supporters alike.
Although the fans have done nothing wrong, we cannot say the same thing about the front office of the Houston Astros.
Let’s examine what happened and why the 2017 World Series title will always be tainted.
Why Is The Houston Astros 2017 World Series Title Tainted?
The 2017 World Series has been tainted due to a sign-stealing scandal. For years teams, fans, and even game organizers have suspected that Houston has been acting illegally when it comes to sign-stealing, but they have never had any evidence to prove their theories.
That was until November 2019. In a damning interview with Mike Fiers (a pitcher for the Houston Astros) told The Athletic they used videos and films on their opponent to steal their signs.
We will explain what “sign stealing” means in more detail later, but know that this truth-telling moment is what gave the doubters the information they needed.
Fiers explained that both players and staff members were involved, and they used cameras to look out for signally clues. When this interview came out, Major League Baseball had the ability to investigate further. It wasn’t until 2020, that they were able to confirm what had happened.
Three years later, MLB announced that illegal cameras were used in the 2017 regular and postseason matches.
This was a shocking announcement, as the Houston Astros won championships that year.
Major League Baseball couldn’t find evidence of illegal sign-stealing during the other seasons, but many people question this, seeing as the unexpected 2017 winning streak continued to 2019, despite their lower MLB betting odds.
As a punishment, the general manager and field manager (Jeff Luhnow and A.J Hinch) were suspended for the 2020 season. This was to stop them from influencing the investigation. When the results came through, the team was fined the maximum amount of $5 million. They were also denied their first and second round picks in the 2021 drafts.
Despite opposing fans requests, no players were fined or suspended for their actions in the illegal sign-stealing. This is because they were given immunity for their cooperation in the investigation.
Eventually, the Astros club fired Hinch and Luhnow, but the drama didn’t stop there. Boston Red Sox manager (Alex Cora) was the brains behind the plan, advising and manipulating the staff to create this team advantage. Although Cora was not part of the Houston Astros team, he was still punished for his involvement.
Cora was suspended for the 2020 season. Despite being the master planner, the Red Sox rehired Cora once the suspension ended.
To make matters worse, the Houston Astros showed no sign of remorse for their illegal activities, and they still claim they did nothing wrong. There was no apology and no explanation for their actions. They still hold the title of 2017 Champions and refuse to denounce it.
It’s actions like this that make shame and disgust linger around the team.
What Is Sign Stealing?
Sign stealing isn’t illegal in baseball, however, just like anything, there are rules on what you can and can’t do.
We will explain what a legal sign stealing is, but for now, let’s run through the basics. Sign stealing is when the opposing team watches the catcher and the pitcher talk to each other in code. They figure out what the code means and then relay it to their teammates.
Talking in code is often done through hand gestures, coughs, taps, and other easy-to-miss motions. Speaking in code is legal. It’s a way to communicate the coming throw, so the catcher can do their job correctly.
When Is Sign Stealing Legal?
A legal sign-stealing happens in the moment. A runner might see the pitcher make a movement, so they use their own code to translate it to the batter. This gives the batter an advantage, as they know what is coming (if the sign stealer understood the code correctly).
Sign stealing becomes illegal when technology or mechanical elements are involved. For example, the Houston Astros used cameras to watch the opposing team and had special staff translate the code in the background. They then fed this information to the runners and batters.
This involved way too much planning and ruined the quick-thinking competitiveness of the game.
Will The Houston Astros Ever Get Past This?
The Houston Astros have failed to admit they made a mistake. They failed to apologize for their actions. And now they refuse to hand back their 2017 championship title.
They broke the rules dramatically and had no remorse. Unless they can show true repentance, the fans of MLB will not forgive them.
There is room for change still, but it will take time. The 2017 Championships will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.