The ongoing accusations being lobbed at the American League champion Houston Astros keep getting more criminally disgraceful or laughably absurd, depending on which side you’re aligning yourself with.
But whether or not you remotely believe the chargers, you can't deny the severity of the claims should they be deemed legitimate.
It’s been just a week since The Athletic implicated the Astros on damning illegal sign stealing allegations that would rank as one of the most reckless and egregious on-field cheating scandals in the history of American sports should the accusations actually carry any truth.
Former Astros pitcher turned whistleblower Mike Fiers first detailed the cheating operation in The Athletic's report.
Fiers, who pitched for the team from 2015-2017, said the team had a TV monitor around the home dugout at Minute Maid Park that had a clear and magnified view of the opponents’ catcher that was shot from a discrete center field camera.
Astros players or staff would then watch the rigged up monitor in the tunnel while Houston players were batting and see where the opposing catcher was setting up and what fingers he was throwing down. They would then relay to the Astros batter up at the plate which pitch was likely coming next by banging on trash cans, whistling, or hitting the ceiling of the dugout to signal if it was an off-speed pitch or a fastball.
Fiers coming forward and 'snitching' on the Astros was shocking and unprecedented, as the Astros had long been accused of stealing signs but never had a former or active Astros player tried to expose it to the world. During the playoffs, Astros manager AJ Hinch acknowledged the accusations during last October's ALCS versus the New York Yankees, calling them ridiculous and daring the media to produce an actual face alleging it. Well, AJ, here's the face you asked for.
Former White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar told The Athletic that he heard loud bangs coming from the Astros’ dugout moments before he threw offspeed pitches, but would not hear the radiating sounds before he threw fastballs. A user on Twitter even uploaded a video of Farquhar facing former Astros catcher Evan Gattis that clearly shows loud banging noises coming from the Houston dugout before specific pitches.
The new allegations, and perhaps the most reprehensible of them all, are the most recent accusations that Astros' batters were literally carrying electronic buzzers to the plate during at-bats. The buzzers were taped somewhere onto the players’ body and would vibrate a certain number of times depending on what pitches were expected to be thrown – after, of course, streaming centerfield camera footage of the signs and catcher set-up would be shown on monitors outside the Astros clubhouse and then directly related to the batter all in real time.
New York Post reporter and MLB columnist Joel Sherman reported the rumor on Monday:
“In recent days I have had scouts and executives talk to me about a variety of methods they think have been or could be employed, such as realistic-looking electronic bandage placed on a player’s body that buzzes in real time to signal what is coming – one buzz for a fastball, for example – if the surveillance determines what type of pitch is coming.”
The aforementioned Twitter user, who is currently taking the social media sharing site by storm with his daily reports on the developing scandal that including dozens of videos possibly proving the Astros involvement, shared a picture of an Astros batter appearing to have the buzzer, appearing like a medical bandage, on his finger exactly like Sherman had mentioned.
In a second video '@JomBoy_' uploaded on the discussion, a foreign object appears to fly off the body of Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos’ bat during the World Series this past October, and strike Washington Nationals catcher Yan Gomes in Gomes' mask.
Some speculated it was the hologram authentication stickers the league puts on specific equipment before games that might have historical relevance, however, it seems unlikely that a sticker could fly in that type of direct trajectory and ‘ricochet’ off the catcher’s mask.
These allegations cames days after another wave of accusations were levied that appeared to show photo proof of a computer monitor set up in the tunnel connecting to the Astros dugouts.
In the team’s 2017 World Series DVD video, you can see Astros players Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman walk by an individual standing at a computer monitor, with Gatorade towels strung up to conceal the computer from field view.
On Tuesday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred officially recognized the allegations, hinting at severe penalties being dished out if the Astros are deemed guilty.
Manfred called the allegations ‘the most serious matter’ and said ‘I have no reason to believe it extends beyond the Astros at this point in time.’
Manfred went onto say that he has the authority to issue penalties more punitive than any precedent previously set -- Comments that many viewed as noteworthy considering it was Manfred actually acknowledging his power to hand down catastrophic punishments that would be broader than simply fines or docked draft picks.