Were the Los Angeles Dodgers cheated out of a World Series title in 2017?
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday after Major League Baseball concluded the team cheated during the 2017 season by using a camera to steal signs being relayed from opposing-team catchers to pitchers, then tipped off Astros batters about what type of pitch was about to be thrown.
The Astros defeated the Dodgers, four games to three, in the 2017 World Series.
Major League Baseball initially suspended Hinch and Luhnow for the 2020 season, but Astros owner Jim Crane quickly announced that both had been fired. Neither Hinch nor Luhnow were alleged to have had a role in implementing the sign-stealing system, “but neither one of them did anything about it,” Crane said.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement that “virtually all of the Astros’ players had some involvement or knowledge of the scheme,” but no individual players were disciplined.
MLB also fined the Astros $5 million, and the team will forfeit its next two first- and second-round draft picks. The team’s former bench coach, Alex Cora — now manager of the Boston Red Sox — could also face severe discipline for being the person who developed the sign-stealing system while in Houston, Manfred said.
The Dodgers issued this statement Monday night, “All clubs have been asked by Major League Baseball not to comment on today’s punishment of the Houston Astros as it’s inappropriate to comment on discipline imposed on another club. The Dodgers have also been asked not to comment on any wrongdoing during the 2017 World Series and will have no further comment at this time.”
Asked by reporters in Houston if the scandal taints the team’s 2017 World Series title, Crane said, “Absolutely not,” insisting the team had been “very good” for a number of years leading up to the championship run.
The cheating allegations against the Astros surfaced late last year when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers revealed the scheme to the online sports publication The Athletic. According to MLB, the cheating system began early in the 2017 season and continued into the 2018 season.
According to the investigation, the team had a camera installed in centerfield focused on opposing catchers, and a monitor was set up just outside the Astros’ dugout. Players in the dugout, seeing the catchers’ signs, would then relay the information to Astros batters by banging on a trash can.