The Houston Astros and New York Yankees will on Thursday after Game 4 was . The Astros lead the best-of-seven series by a 2-1 margin, having taken each of the past two games. The Astros also allegedly lead the series in a different category: stealing signs and/or figuring out the opposing pitcher's tells.
On Wednesday, Astros manager AJ Hinch called the various allegations "kind of funny" and said "If they don't want to tip their pitches, then they should take consideration into doing the same thing over and over again," per ESPN.com. Intentionally or otherwise, Hinch is conflating the actual issue as it pertains to what the Astros are supposedly doing.
Sign-stealing and picking up on pitcher's tells have been part of baseball forever. Sometimes pitchers and teams get mad at the opposition for what's generally considered acceptable sign-stealing and tip-discovering, but for the most part every team is trying to get the others' signs and tells for the sake of gaining a competitive advantage.
There are some lines of demarcation between acceptable and unacceptable information stealing and relaying. For example, picking up on signs the way Carlos Beltran did -- either with intense pregame video work or acute in-game observation -- is fine. But using an illegal video stream during the game? That's not fine. The Astros are perceived to have crossed those lines in the ways they gain and share the information.
According to Andy Martino of SNY, the dugouts got into an argument during Game 1 after a Yankees coach "noticed a whistling sound in the opposing dugout on certain pitches." The whistling, considered a step too far, has not been an issue in the subsequent games. (MLB has since investigated and concluded the Astros did not violate the rules.) Martino added that other big-league personnel believe the Astros use video cameras to steal signs. Do remember that last fall Cleveland filed a complaint with Major League Baseball about a person claiming to be an Astros employee who was filming their dugout.
Whatever the Astros are (or aren't) doing this series, it has led to a frenzy of accusations.
During Game 2, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was caught on camera saying "glove," leading to speculation that James Paxton -- whose tell the Astros had already cracked once this season -- was tipping. In Game 3, the Astros laid off Luis Severino's secondary pitches to the extent that former big leaguer Alex Rodriguez tweeted they might have found a tell.
At minimum, the Astros do seem to be involved with pitch-tipping and sign-stealing allegations more than any other club. The Astros were the ones who figured out Yu Darvish was tipping during the 2017 World Series, and have since been linked to Paxton multiple times, Tyler Glasnow in the ALDS, and even Craig Kimbrel in last year's ALCS.
Perhaps all those connections between the Astros and tipping just inspire more paranoia. But the Astros probably don't mind -- even if they're on the up-and-up and not quite as good at stealing signs or discovering tips as believed, they might have an edge if other pitchers and teams are so concerned about that aspect that they lose their focus.