Obsessive Astros Fans Documented Their 2017 Cheating

Tony Adams:

My name is Tony Adams. I’m an Astros fan. In November 2019, when the videos of the banging during some Astros 2017 games came out, I was horrified. It was clear within a minute of watching it was true — my team had cheated. To understand the scope of the cheating and the players involved, I decided to look at each home game from that season and determine any audio indicators of the sign stealing.

I wrote an application that downloaded the pitch data from MLB’s Statcast. This data has a timestamp for every pitch. I then downloaded the videos from YouTube and, using the timestamp, created a spectrogram for every pitch. A spectrogram is a visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies in an audio file. I could then playback the video of the pitches and, helped by the visual of the spectrogram, determine if there was any banging before the pitch.

I initially thought it would be quick work, and the application did make it pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of pitches in an MLB season. I ended up watching and logging over 8,200 pitches. And some more than once to be sure I was as accurate as possible.

I love everything about this. The obsession, the presentation of the data, and most of all, the fact that Adams is an Astros fan, and rather than make excuses for his team’s cheating, he’s upset by it.

One bit that came of this. David Spampinato:

On August 4th, the game with the most trash can bangs, the Astros scored 16 earned runs. Mike Bolsinger, a Blue Jays reliever, allowed 4 earned runs in 0.1 IP. He never pitched in the big leagues again.

What a disgrace. MLB should strip the Astros of their World Series title.

Thursday, 30 January 2020