Major League Baseball would clear the Houston Astros Wednesday of their postseason sign-stealing allegations, sources told ESPN. MLB did order the Astros to stop using video equipment on opposing teams, however. (That Houston believes are cheating — seriously, this is a mess). But it’s a mess that’s already over, apparently.
“With respect to both incidents regarding a Houston Astros employee, security identified an issue, addressed it and turned the matter over to the Department of Investigations. A thorough investigation concluded that an Astros employee was monitoring the field to ensure that the opposing Club was not violating any rules,” MLB said in a statement via ESPN.
So there you go, kids. If you’re ever caught cheating on a test, your response should be simple. Just say “I was only making sure that person wasn’t cheating on my test!” It’s foolproof.
Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow did deny any illegal activity in a news conference, stating the Astros have never used surveillance to steal signs from opposing teams. The club, he says, was simply trying to look out for themselves. (Or, in other words, assure that the opposing team was not cheating.)
“We were playing defense, we were not playing offense,” Luhnow said according to USA Today. “…wanted to make sure it was a level playing field….We look around to make sure there’s nothing suspicious going on. We want to make sure our signs aren’t getting stolen. So we do it every stadium we go into. We dispatch someone from the travel party to go out to center field, look at a particular area that might be suspicious or a certain monitor. I’m sure other clubs do this as well, but we’re just trying to protect ourselves the best we can.”
That doesn’t seem like a good look, but MLB doesn’t appear to care. The “I’m sure other clubs do this as well” bit is especially confusing, as there’s no proof of that whatsoever. We’re just talking about the Astros here. After an Astros employee was spotted shooting video from a photographer’s pit adjacent to the Boston Red Sox dugout, MLB launched an investigation into the incident. According to Cleveland.com, the Indians also reported suspicious activity during the ALDS.
Luhnow says that the club used an intern to check on the opposing teams. The commissioner’s office concluded that the Astros did not violate MLB policy following the investigation.
“All clubs remaining in the playoffs have been notified to refrain from these types of efforts and to direct complaints about any in-stadium rules violations to MLB staff for investigation and resolution,” MLB said in a statement. “We consider the matter closed.”
Don’t expect this to just go away, though.
Before the postseason, Commissioner Rob Manfred had received concerns regarding teams using video equipment to gain an edge on an opponent. Manfred did address these concerns by increasing security at games and monitoring video rooms. Astros manager A.J. Hinch also commented on video surveillance and its place in baseball.
“The competitive edges nowadays are so narrow. You’re trying to find everything you can. And whether that’s pitch tipping, pitch sequencing, changing your signs, changing your location of your defenders — this is a bigger topic that’s going to take a lot more time than an overnight story and concern and people’s curiosities.”
Meanwhile, the Astros host the Red Sox in Game 5 of the NLCS tonight, and will need to win three in a row if they want a chance to defend their crown.