NT baseball condemn Astros’ sign stealing scandal in 2017

NT baseball coach and players say sign stealing betrays the game of baseball

As the catcher subtly reveals his sign to the pitcher, a camera stationed in center field picks up the signal, a video monitor displayed outside the dugout shows this footage, a player bangs the trash can twice with a bat. This is the process of sign stealing by the Houston Astros.

While stealing signs is a practice almost as old as the sport of baseball itself, the case of the Astros illegally stealing signs in 2017, is something the sport has never seen before.

Most teams have traditionally stolen signs by interpreting the sign the catcher gives to the pitcher, and relaying it to the batter so he knows which type of pitch is coming.

The 2017 Astros went above and beyond this practice by using a camera to record the signs and then pass the information on to the coach. Coincidentally enough, the Astros won the World Series that year.

The Commissioner of the MLB Robert Manfred didn’t take this lightly. Astros manager A.J. Hinch was suspended for a year by the MLB and then immediately fired by the team. General manager John Luhnow was also given the same punishment. Both were punished for being aware of, yet doing nothing to stop the cheating.

While many dispute whether the punishment fit the crime or whether the repercussions were too severe, varsity baseball coach Michael Napoleon has a strong stance against the Astros.

“When you use technology [to steal signs], it’s voodoo. Yes, I do think the punishments are justified,” said Napoleon.
The punishments didn’t stop with the firing of management. The Astros also lost their 2020 and 2021 first and second round draft picks and were fined $5 million, the highest ever fine in baseball’s 151 year history.

Napoleon acknowledged that $5 million fine is a lot, but he believes that losing the draft picks is the more pivotal punishment.

He noted that the billion-dollar organization can stand to lose a few bucks, but draft picks are the future, and they lost theirs.

Knowing what type of pitch is coming (based on the sign) may not seem like a big deal. Whether it is a fastball or curveball coming, some may not see the advantage of knowing. Napoleon recalled an interview he heard from Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood.

“I would rather face a player that was taking steroids than face a player that knew every pitch that was coming,” Wood said.