Astros stole signs electronically in 2017

52 Comments

A bombshell report from Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic: the World Series champion 2017 Houston Astros stole signs via electronic means that season. They did it by use of a camera in center field at Minute Maid Park.

Multiple people who worked for the team that season, including current A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, confirmed the existence of the sign-stealing to The Athletic.

Major League Baseball, after acknowledging that many teams complained, in general, about other teams stealing signs in recent years, said it would look into the new information uncovered by The Athletic. MLB is already examining the Astros front office in response to the Brandon Taubman affair just prior to the World Series. UPDATE: The Astros issued the following comment late this afternoon:

Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time.

The story reports the genesis of the sign-stealing scheme thusly:

At least two uniformed Astros got together to start the process. One was a hitter who was struggling at the plate and had benefited from sign stealing with a previous team, according to club sources; another was a coach who wanted to help.They were said to strongly believe that some opposing teams were already up to no good.

They wanted to devise their own system in Houston. And they did.

There have been widespread rumors that the Astros were stealing signs in 2017 and that, possibly, they still were. It has never risen above the rumor stage before now.

During the 2018 postseason there was a story involving the Indians and Red Sox thinking that the Astros were stealing signs and/or spying on their dugouts via the stationing of a team employee nearby. The Astros were more recently accused of a far lower-tech means of sign stealing during the 2019 postseason. Specifically, the Yankees complained that the Astros stole and relayed signs via players in the dugout whistling to Astros batters. Major League Baseball found nothing to that and, even if they did, the scheme did not involve technology to steal signs, which is specifically prohibited by Major League Baseball.

My sense is that this is the tip of the iceberg. As the quote from the story about the player proposing the system from his previous team makes clear, it’s likely not an Astros-only phenomenon. It’s likewise not just a 2017 phenomenon (the Athletic only has information from 2017). There are likely lots of teams doing this and many still doing it. Not that that is any excuse for what the Astros have done here. They should be investigated and punished.

But this is likely not just an Astros story. Major League Baseball has a pretty big cheating scandal on its hands. Now let’s see if Major League Baseball treats it as such rather than limit its inquiry to just the Houston Astros.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

AP Photo
2 Comments

FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.