According to a report from the Athletic
, the Houston Astros stole signs during their 2017 World Series winning season, in traditional ways and using technology, the same season the Red Sox were punished for using an Apple Watch in the dugout for allegedly stealing signs.
The Astros have been widely criticized for attempting to steal signs from other teams, which involves trying to figure out pitches the catcher is calling. During the 2017 World Series, it has been widely reported that the Astros determined Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish was "tipping" his pitches, which gave the Astros a distinct advantage and knocked him out of his two starts.
In the report, former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers (along with several other unnamed sources) claim the club used a camera in center field to steal signs from opposing catchers in real time. Fiers is quoted as saying, "That's not playing the game the right way." In addition, several players noted that the Astros have been known to make noises right before certain pitches as a means of alerting hitters. They were accused of whistling from the dugout during the ALCS in New York against the Yankees.
Still, the problem of illegal sign stealing and alerting batters to potential pitches is nothing new in baseball and the use of electronic devices to gather information is said to be widespread, even in the report. At the moment, it appears the Astros are just better at it and more aggressive about it than other teams.
The team released a statement saying, "Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time."
Regardless of the ramifications of any alleged funny business on the part of the Astros, Fiers going on record to rat out his former team is pretty ballsy. And no doubt the Astros players and coaches are none too pleased with him for it.