The last four months have been dominated by the Houston Astros and for all the wrong reasons. . New details are still coming to light.
Of course, before the public knew they were stealing signs, the Astros lost the 2019 World Series to the Washington Nationals. Houston had the lead in the seventh inning of Game 7 before Howie Kendrick swatted a go-ahead two-run home run. It has been nothing but bad news for the Astros since then.
Houston's sign-stealing exploits were no secret within baseball going into the World Series, so much so that Nationals players received warnings from around the league. According to Barry Svrluga and Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post, several Dodgers players reached out to Nationals infielder Brian Dozier to warn him about sign-stealing. Dozier played in Los Angeles in 2018.
More notably, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora reached out to Nationals manager Dave Martinez to warn him about the sign-stealing, according to Svrluga and Sheinin. Cora and Martinez are both Puerto Rican and have a long-standing relationship. Cora even congratulated Martinez for the World Series win on Instagram.
Cora, the Astros bench coach in 2017, was identified as a ringleader in Houston's sign-stealing scheme during MLB's investigation, (technically the two sides parted ways). Despite his involvement in Houston's sign-stealing scheme, Cora warned his close friend Martinez.
Here's more from Svrluga and Sheinin:
Martinez, according to one person, also reached out to Tony Sipp, a reliever for Houston from 2014 to 2018 who spent the first part of 2019 with Washington. Martinez and Sipp didn't connect, but Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer took his own steps to track down Sipp. It is standard for pitchers and catchers to switch to a more complex set of signs with runners on second — to prevent the runner from stealing the sign and signaling it to the batter, a practice that for years has been considered acceptable — but Scherzer asked Sipp whether the Nationals needed to be concerned about the Astros even with no runners on base. Sipp said yes, according to a person familiar with the conversation.
Yankees in the ALCS, used multiple signs against the Astros, even with no runners on base. Houston's reputation was well-known within the game., allowing them to change things up frequently and keep the Astros flustered. Other teams, including the
The Astros used 46 players in 2017 and 24 are now employed by other MLB teams. It stands to reason those 24 players warned their next team about Houston's sign-stealing prior to a series, regular season or postseason. Several 2019 Astros are on other teams now, and, if Houston is still stealing signs, the word will spread soon enough.