The Houston Astros allegedly used live video from a camera in centerfield as part of an elaborate system to steal signs from catchers during 2017 home games, according to a bombshell report Tuesday that drew fierce reactions from current and former members of the team the Astros ousted in that season’s championship series: the New York Yankees.
The Astros upended the Yankees, 4-3, in an epic back-and-forth that took the best-of-seven series to its brink. All of Houston’s victories came at home, and the Astros went on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games to capture their first world series title.
According to The Athletic, the system was started by an unidentified struggling hitter and coach. The camera was allegedly connected to a television monitor in the tunnel and that team employees or players would communicate the expected pitches by banging a trash can to signal off-speed pitches.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who was at the GM meetings in Arizona when The Athletic’s story broke, tried to project a measured disposition but still tossed a few subtle jabs at the Astros, according to the New York Post.
“I don’t think it’s a technological question alone. It’s just conduct,” Cashman said. “You decide to play by the rules, or you don’t. And if you don’t, there’s consequences. You’re putting yourself at risk whether it’s future employment, current employment, or sanctions or what have you. It’s not a technology question as much as how you want to operate.”
Yankees star Aaron Judge appeared to be confused about the report. Judge hit 52 home runs that season and won the American League Rookie of the Year.
“Wait… what….?” he tweeted.
An anonymous former member of the Yankees also expressed anger after hearing about the controversy.
“To actually have somebody hitting a garbage can, pretty much the whole game, that’s pretty much your job, whoever is doing that,” the person told the New York Post. “It stinks. You wish you could go back in time and figure that out earlier, because we thought we were the better team. We probably were the better team.”
Mike Fiers, who played for the Astros during the 2017 season, and three other unidentified members of the championship-winning team were quoted in The Athletic piece. Two other sources told the website that Houston used the system into the playoffs but another source said it ended before the postseason.
“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 told The Athletic.
Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow didn’t dive into specifics about the allegations.
“We take the allegation seriously and we’re going to look into it. If you’re not following the rules, it’s a serious matter,” Luhnow told reporters at the GM meetings. “I’m not going to get into exactly what I knew or anybody knew at this point. So I’m just going to have to wait and see. But I’m sure there will be an appropriate time to answer that question directly.”
MLB said it was investigating.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.