Sign Stealing in the MLB

Matthew Neus, Author

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Back in 2017, the Houston Astros won the World Series for the first time in their history, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 3 in a best of seven series. They went on to win the AL West for the next two seasons and make another appearance in the World Series this year, losing to the Washington Nationals. It was their most successful period of time as a franchise and all the signs pointed upwards. But after all the games have been played, allegations of sign stealing during the 2017 season emerged and were all pointed towards the Astros organization. Many allegations cited a camera in center field that relayed signs to the dugout, and even former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers admitted to there being a camera in center field at Minute Maid Park, home to the Astros. 


With sign stealing comes a tricky question, is it cheating if everyone does it? For years base runners could have been relaying signs to the batter after figuring out which signs lead to what pitch, and there is no rule on stealing signs in the rules. But that was not implying using technology to help. For the Astros, it was discovered a camera had been set up in center field pointing directly at home plate, relaying signs to the Astros dugout. When a off-speed pitch was coming, two loud bangs would come from the dugout to notify the batter. This only happened on off-speed pitches, while fastballs were quiet. 


With this issue, the MLB has a tough choice to make on how to discipline the Astros. Back in 2017, the Boston Red Sox were caught stealing signs with an Apple Watch in the dugout, and they were suspended from signing any international players for a year after being caught. But after being caught, the Red Sox stopped sign stealing. So what should the MLB do with Houston? They could do the same thing that they did with Boston, or they could come down even harder and scrap their 2017 title. It’s a tough decision the MLB has to make, but the whole league will be affected after the verdict has been decided.