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Astros Manager and G.M. Fired Over Cheating Scandal

James Wagner, reporting for The New York Times:

It is an enduring part of baseball strategy: As a batter is at the plate, his teammates carefully watch a catcher’s fingers to figure out what pitch is about to be thrown.

And it’s all fair play as long as teams do not enhance the abilities of the naked eye and clever minds with either cameras or electronic devices that allow teammates to signal the batter whether a fastball or a breaking ball is on the way.

But that is exactly what the Houston Astros did during their 2017 championship-winning season, clouding that World Series title and causing one of baseball’s biggest cheating scandals in years, Major League Baseball officials said on Monday in a scathing report detailing the team’s scheme.

By the end of the day, Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch — the two men who helped propel the Astros to the top of the sport — had been suspended and then fired, while their club was left with severe penalties for deploying a scheme involving cameras and monitors to decode the hand signals of catchers and tip off Houston batters. One of their favorite communication methods was banging on a trash can just outside the dugout.

Commissioner Manfred’s report (PDF) is a scathing read (with a crazy file name). My favorite part of this whole sad saga is the indignant way A.J. Hinch responded to allegations that the Astros were illegally signaling signs against the Yankees this postseason. My guess is it’s not “making him laugh” any more.

Put a big asterisk next to that 2017 World Series. What an embarrassing stain on the sport.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020