Mike Fiers played the 2017 season with the Houston Astros, who ended up winning it all on baseball’s biggest stage. Now, two years later, he is accusing his former club of using a center field camera to steal the signs of visiting teams. This sign-stealing could lead to an investigation by Major League Baseball.
Fiers has played for both the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics in the meantime and warned both sets of players about the practice. Allegedly, the Astros would send the video feed to a monitor in the home dugout to decode signs and communicate the stolen signs to batters.
“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. “Young guys getting hit around in the first couple of innings starting a game, and then they get sent down. It’s (B.S.) on that end. It’s ruining jobs for younger guys. The guys who know are more prepared. But most people don’t. That’s why I told my team. We had a lot of young guys with Detroit (in 2018) trying to make a name and establish themselves. I wanted to help them out and say, ‘Hey, this stuff really does go on. Just be prepared.’”
According to ESPN, the Houston Astros have been followed by accusations of cheating ever since that 2017 championship season where they bested the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fall classic. Opponents entering Minute Maid Park are, therefore, always on high alert for espionage.
The World-Series winning Washington Nationals were warned before their seven-game series this year against the Astros to watch out for flashing lights, whistling and even a person relaying signs from the left field train.
Houston’s change from long-time bottom-dwellers in the divisional standings to regular playoff contenders has yielded theories of different types of cheating that may be responsible for this rise. Before Fiers, three unnamed sources also alleged the Astros make use of illegal video.
However, the fact that Fiers is going on record is the strongest damnation of the organization yet. “That’s not playing the game the right way,” Fiers said. “They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win.”
The Athletics previously accused the Astros in August 2018, saying the Houston players used clapping to relay stolen signs. During this year’s playoffs, Kyle Mclaughlin, identified as an Astros employee, was removed from their game against the Cleveland Indians for pointing a phone at the dugouts.
Houston GM Jeff Lunhow said of the latter incident that Mclaughlin was ensuring the Indians were not using technology to steal signs. Lunhow is expected to make a statement about Fiers’ allegations.
The New York Yankees also accused the Astros of cheating during the 2019 playoffs. During game one of the ALCS, the Bombers said Houston whistled and banged on a trash can to relay stolen pitching signs.
After these whistling allegations, Lunhow said, “We’ve never done anything that’s been deemed to be incorrect. Last year, we were trying to prevent other teams from doing things. It was dumb and we shouldn’t have done it because it made us look guilty. We haven’t done anything wrong.”
Major League Baseball has yet to comment on the latest incident. They have also not yet publicly spoken about any alleged wrongdoing by the Astros organization in regards to sign stealing.
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