Sources: MLB Sign-Stealing Investigation Expands Beyond Astros
MLB's investigation into illegal sign stealing is "expected to expand beyond" just the '17 Astros and "look into whether other teams ... used technology to aid hitters," according to sources cited by Jeff Passan of ESPN.com. Sources said that the fallout from former Astros P Mike Fiers telling The Athletic about the team's illegal sign stealing in '17 has "brought into question the methods used by people involved in at least the last three World Series." Sources said that MLB yesterday contacted personnel from both the Astros and Red Sox in attempts to "cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating." The league has said that it will "consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied." The sources said, "The league was grappling with the scope of the investigation and how wide-ranging it could become." MLB's Department of Investigations has "begun gathering a wide-ranging list of potential interviewees." Sources said that the group is "expected to talk with players as well as manager, coaches and other team personnel." Sources added that those interviewees will include Astros manager A.J. Hinch, Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Mets manager Carlos Beltran -- all three were part of the '17 Astros team. Any conversations with players "would need approval" from the MLBPA (ESPN.com, 11/14). Cora this morning on Boston's WEEI-AM was asked about the investigation, and he said, "I have talked to MLB and I'll leave it at that" ("Dale & Keefe," WEEI-AM, 11/14).
NEED TO SET AN EXAMPLE: SI.com's Tom Verducci wrote the foundation of MLB is "fair play," which is why Commissioner Rob Manfred "must act quickly and decisively" on the Astros. MLB needs to run an "immediate, thorough and independent investigation." This is "up to MLB to find out what happened" (SI.com, 11/13). SNY's Jim Duquette said MLB "has to come down, and I think they're going to use them as an example" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 11/13). ESPN's Sarah Spain: "You have to punish them and you have to do it in a way that prevents teams from doing it in the future" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 11/13). WFAN's Boomer Esiason said MLB is going to have to elicit "some sort of penalty on the Astros simply because of what we now know" ("Boomer and Gio," WFAN-AM, 11/14).
WHAT PUNISHMENT IS APPROPRIATE? In N.Y., Kristie Ackert writes this scandal "strikes at the integrity of the game," so Manfred "has to get control of this now." An "undisclosed fine to a company worth billions is not enough, Manfred now has to make getting caught a huge hit to the heart of organization's ability to compete." He has to "take away draft picks" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/14). Some have said MLB needs to strip the Astros of their '17 World Series win, but the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh said that "doesn't change anything." Haugh: "Draft picks, fines, suspensions -- hit them where it hurts" ("SportsTalk Live," NBC SportsTalk Chicago, 11/14). CBSSN's Adam Schein noted this is "not the crime of the century," but it is the "perfect blend of arrogance and ignorance." Schein suggested taking away the Astros' first- and second-round draft picks in '20. He said, "Hit them where it matters. ... Make sure that everybody else in baseball knows that this is not tolerated" ("Time to Schein," CBSSN, 11/13). However, ESPN's Passan noted MLB can levy a maximum fine of $2M. However, he said, "A lot of teams out there would tell you, 'We would gladly pay a $2 million fine if it meant winning a championship'" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/13).
IN NEED OF A DO-OVER: In Houston, Brian Smith writes since a "ruthless wrecking ball first started tearing things down" in '11, the Astros also have "consistently returned to their arrogant, offensive, confrontational ways." PR "nightmares the past two years really weren't that shocking -- if you had been closely paying attention since the beginning." Fiers is "simply a disgruntled ex-employee and the Astros were professionally stealing signs like everyone else in modern baseball," MLB "must clear the club." But, at this moment, the Astros are "again swimming in their self-made chaos." MLB is "conducting two investigations aimed at a club" whose star players are "being overshadowed by their franchise" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/14). In Toronto, Gregor Chisholm writes the Astros are "going to be remembered." It just "happens to be for all the wrong reasons." An organization that has "made a lot of wise on-field decisions has made far too many poor ones away from it" (TORONTO STAR, 11/14).
SOUND & FURY: Many Twitter users had fun with the Astros' reported method of conveying signs to hitters, which involved a staffer banging on a trash can:
*Pitcher about to throw a chnageup*— Zero Blog Thirty (@ZeroBlog30) November 14, 2019
Astros bench: pic.twitter.com/Qj8OUSURKf
When the Astros know an off-speed pitch is comin pic.twitter.com/UGbjnk5Ear— Karen Howell (@karenehowell) November 14, 2019