Well, this story went from a report of one weird occurrence to something the Astros had done before to something other teams had been complaining about throughout the season in a real hurry.
Let’s back up: there was a report from Metro that the Astros may have been cheating in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. This report was based on the removal of an Astros’ employee from near the Red Sox dugout -- an employee who had a camera and who was sending texts often. He had no media credential, and another Astros employee attempted to convince security that this was totally cool and allowed.
Apparently, his mission was to preemptively spy on the Red Sox to make sure that they were not spying on the Astros. There is a logic in that until you think about it for too long and realize it’s just some Cold War-esque excuse making to try to pull off some shady shit and claim it as some kind of self-defense. This is not to let the Red Sox off the hook too much, of course, given last year they did pull their own shit using Apple Watches for stealing signals. The secret listening device of Doug Fister was just Yankees’ paranoia, though. But yes, there has been sign stealing and pine tar drama in the news for a reason: neither of these teams trust the other, and they probably shouldn’t!
MLB acknowledged that Astrogate* happened on Tuesday, but considered the matter closed. It doesn’t look closed, though: It turns out the Red Sox knew about this guy because the Cleveland Indians, who had lost to the Astros in the ALDS, tipped Boston off to him. Reportedly, multiple Astros employees were ejected by MLB security during Game 3 of the ALDS for similar behavior.
*I’m comfortable using -gate here only because this involves spying and counterintelligence efforts
And that’s when things unraveled. Jeff Passan revealed the name of this wannabe spy, Kyle MacLaughlin, as well as his connections to the Astros. He also dropped the bombshell that the A’s had complained to MLB about this behavior by the Astros back in late-August, and that there was an elaborate clapping setup in the Houston dugout to relay stolen signs to hitters. The Dodgers believe Houston was stealing signs during the World Series last year. Two MLB players told Passan they believe the Astros have been “hitting a trash can in the dugout in recent years” as a way to let hitters know about signs.
It’s worth pointing out that every team is paranoid right now, and it’s probably because they’re all also guilty. The Astros aren’t alone in cheating, not by a long shot. They are, however, the latest to have their cheating stupidly blow up in their faces in public, like Boston with the Apple Watch gambit a year ago. All MLB seems to want to do is sweep this news under the rug whenever it happens: they know there is cheating, and they don’t care. They just want it to all happen more quietly and with less notice.
Is that fine? Probably! As Alex Cora said, hitters want pitchers to have control, so they don’t care about pine tar or sunscreen. Everyone is stealing signs, and that’s just gamesmanship: you’re just not supposed to use technology or undercover “media” outside of the dugout to do so. Cheat smarter, y’all. I know this is asking a lot of the organization that had “Eckstein123” as their server password, but please. You can do this, probably.
- There is a good chance you don’t like Manny Machado much right now. Whether that’s by design or just because he’s a total dingus is up for debate, but either way, Grant Brisbee believes Machado is a perfect heel we can all unite against this postseason.
- Was Tony Kemp’s amazing catch against the wall in Game 3 of the ALCS actually a catch, or an incredible bit of deception on the part of an outfielder who knows how to play the game? Either way, it was brilliant, and worth watching over and over again.
- Eric Stephen has all the highlights and reactions from a Game 4 that ended not all that long ago.
- The Brewers are not happy with Manny Machado.
- Over the Monster has scattered thoughts from Boston’s Game 3 win over Houston.
- The Dodgers and Brewers will play again at 5:09 p.m. ET on Wednesday, but before then, check out this history of Clayton Kershaw vs. the postseason.
- Game 4 was an extra innings affair with drama and lead changes, but the true star was Rich Hill taking on this container of candy.
- The Home Run Sculpture is being removed from Marlins Park, and Grant Brisbee believes Derek Jeter should be removed from society for this.
- Whitney McIntosh would like to remind you that Captain Jetes hates fun.
- Personally, as a prison abolitionist, I’m not in favor of arresting Derek Jeter for banishing the dinger art. However, if someone could get him on one of Elon Musk’s rockets to Mars along with other rich people who take away the things that give us joy, I would not argue.
- The Angels have opted out of their stadium lease and will start looking for new options.