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Astros Receive Record Punishment, Fire GM and Manager in Response

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It has been quite a 24 hours for the city of Houston.

At 12:56 Central time, ESPN’s Jeff Passan broke the news. If big time Wojnarowski tweets are “WojBombs,” Passan’s news hit like an earthquake, complete with reverberation.

Houston Astros’ General Manager Jeff Lunhow and Manager AJ Hinch were suspended one year, through the end of the 2020 World Series, the Astros were fined $5 Million, and the club’s first and second round picks in 2020 and 2021 were taken away.

After comments from Oakland Athletics’ Mike Fiers, who was on the Houston Astros in 2017, the MLB investigated their use of center field cameras. Reports were that the Astros filmed the catcher signals from center field, played them on a TV in the Astros clubhouse, and players in the back would make loud noises to tip off the Astros batters over pitches.

The ensuing 71 minutes was a tweet storm. Reporters from other franchises were questioning their fanbases, asking about the severity of the punishment and if it was off set by winning a World Series.

Stephen A. Smith called it, bluntly, excessive. Houston sports reporters were clamoring and pulling together the information they could, trying to demonstrate the punishment outweighed the crime. Much bickering on social media compared the pros and cons of the story. Passions were high, name calling was higher.

Houston scheduled a press conference to discuss the news, and much of twitter began to try and figure out what this meant for Houston. The long lasting picture of the Astros looked shot, but the immediate future?

Sure, the near future was fine. As long as they stay healthy, a lineup of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Yordan Alvarez with Justin Verlander and Zach Grienke on the mound is as good a squad as any. Sure, the lack of draft picks hurt, but the Astros have several good prospects in the minor leagues primed for a debut soon.

Many were jumping the gun, trying to figure out or guess what the Boston Red Sox’s punishment will be for similar allegations. Red Sox Manager Alex Cora was on the Astros World Series’ staff in 2017 and became the Red Sox’s manager in 2018.

And then, Owner Jim Crane started his press conference, and fired Lunhow and Hinch.

Since the start of the 2017 season, the Houston Astros have won 336 games, the most in a three year span in MLB history. No other team has ever won 100 games in three consecutive seasons.

“There are two very important points I want to make today: I have higher standards for the city and the franchise, and I am going above and beyond MLB’s penalty,” Crane said in a news conference at Minute Maid Park. “Today, I have made the decision to dismiss AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow. We need to move forward with a clean slate, and the Astros will become a stronger organization because of this today.”

Assumptions for the coming hours, days, and weeks are that the Houston Astros will make some new hires. Any GM and Manager would have to be ecstatic to get to work with a roster that, though they lost draft picks, is such a strong immediate contender.

Outside of Houston, the reverberations will be seeing what happens to other organizations. Fruit has fallen from the Astros tree and spread all over the league, and may also be culpable for a potential punishment. Further, what will happen when this comes up with other franchises? Boston is currently under a similar investigation for their 2018 season. In February of 2019, the MLB had to explicitly ban cameras and special video feeds from making their way to dugouts. This may be a much larger problem and, if so, the precedent set is strict.

Where does this leave the Houston Astros? Where does this leave baseball?

The MLB is not immune to scandal. Pete Rose was banned for life, steroids and Biogenesis ruled the summer news cycles of the 2000’s. Owners have been caught colluding to keep player salaries down, twice. Is mischief par for the course in pro baseball? Is it different if it leads to winning? Is it more justifiable? Less?

Regardless of the justification, or lack thereof, the MLB just found itself back into the news cycle in January.

Hopefully the MLB and Houston Astros are happy… And if, after opening this Pandora’s box, it is a more widespread problem, at least they put their foot down early.

Baseball

Houston Astros Now Being Accused of Using Buzzers to Steal Signs in 2019

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Over the past week, Major League Baseball has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, as discipline was handed out to the Houston Astros for a sign-stealing scandal that netted them a World Series win in 2017.

The fallout from those penalties has been stark, as three managers and a general manager have all been relieved of their duties this week.

Now the Astros are starting fall under hot water once again as there is now speculation (mostly coming from social media), that the Astros were cheating in 2019 as well.

The clip that raised speculation comes from Game 6 of the ALCS this past season, where Jose Altuve hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees.

As Altuve was coming around third, he made it very clear to his teammates that he did not want his shirt ripped off.

Many are speculating that Altuve was wearing a wire of some sort that would buzz to tell Astros batters what pitches were coming.

People are now looking through pictures of Astros players and others all around the league and trying to discern if there are wires visible underneath their jerseys.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred concluded through his investigation of the Houston Astros that they stopped trying to electronically steal signs in the middle of the 2018 season, clearing them of any wrongdoing after that point.

This continues to be a terrible look for the Astros and baseball as a whole, especially if it can be proven that buzzer-gate is in fact true.

The act of sign-stealing around baseball seems to be rampant, not only with the Astros. Hopefully with this extra attention being paid to the issue, things will change in 2020.

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Baseball

Carlos Beltran and the New York Mets Agree to Part Ways Amid Sign-Stealing Scandal

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The sign-stealing scandal that has rocked the game of baseball has claimed it’s next victim.

Carlos Beltran was set to start his first season as the manager of the New York Mets, but he will never actually get the chance to manage a game, as the two sides have agreed to part ways.

Beltran was a player on the 2017 Houston Astros, winning the first World Series of his 20-year career and promptly retired after.

In Rob Manfred’s nine-page report on the Astros sign-stealing scandal that took place that season, Beltran was the only player mentioned by name.

Still, since he was a player at the time, Beltran did not receive any punishment from Major League Baseball and could have managed the Mets without any risk of suspension.

In the end, the Mets and Beltran agreed that his place leading the team would be too much of a distraction moving forward.

The concern was that any success the Mets had, people may have wondered if Beltran was stealing signs again.

Somehow the Mets, who really had nothing to do with this sign-stealing scandal, ended up just as wrapped up in it as the Astros and the Boston Red Sox.

They will now look to hire a new manager and try to put this behind them as best as they can.

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Baseball

Boston Red Sox Fire Alex Cora Amid MLB Investigation Into Sign-Stealing Scandals

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Major League Baseball finally handed out punishments to the Houston Astros on Monday for their sign-stealing scandal back in 2017.

The Astros won the World Series that year and their bench coach at the time, Alex Cora, went on to become the Boston Red Sox manager.

Cora led the Red Sox to a World Series in his first year in Boston, but the honeymoon between the two was short-lived, as Cora is heavily implicated the MLB’s investigation into the Astros.

Now as the league is investigating the culture of sign-stealing that Cora brought to the Red Sox in 2018, the franchise has taken the proactive approach and parted ways with their controversial manager.

The Astros received stiff penalties for their sign-stealing scandal, including the forfeiture of draft picks, the maximum fine allowed under MLB rules and a one-year suspension for manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Lunhow.

Astros owner Jim Crane responded by firing both Hinch and Lunhow and now the Red Sox have followed suit with Cora.

As part of a nine-page report MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released in regards to his investigation of the Astros, he discussed Cora’s role in the scandal at length and explained that he would be receiving a stiff punishment as well.

Many have theorized that Cora will be getting the biggest suspension of the three, as he is believed to have started a similar sign-stealing system to help the Boston Red Sox win the World Series in 2018.

Now Cora just has to wait and see what his punishment for Major League Baseball will be, but whatever it its, Cora may never be given another opportunity to work in a dugout again.

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