A member of the Astros' front office e-mailed team scouts about a month before the 2017 Major League Baseball postseason asking them to try to steal opponents' signs - and to use cameras, if necessary, The Athletic reported Saturday.
The Houston Astros have recently been exposed to stealing signs during the team's championship season in 2017. Some were intrigued by the idea, sources who received the email said, while others were bothered with the thoughts of pointing cameras toward opposing teams' dugouts, a plan that could have earned them scorn without the scouting community if caught.
A Houston Astros official sent out an email to scouts in August 2017, which was obtained by The Athletic. The team had a center field camera fixed on the catcher, someone decoded the signs on a monitor in the hallway between the dugout and clubhouse, and banged a garbage can to relay incoming pitches to the hitter. "What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc".
"Technology and stealing info is going to be the black eye of this generation", one longtime Astros employee told ESPN. They then instructed the scouts to "go to a game, see what you can (or can't) do, and report back your findings", according to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich.
Houston is one of three teams I've had multiple players identify to me as the most egregious with electronic sign stealing.
While MLB will investigate the Astros' alleged cheating, MLB fans reacted to the news by turning the blatant cheating into an excellent meme.
Regardless of how that all fits together, Goldstein's email generated considerable angst among Astros scouts, many of whom, The Athletic and ESPN report, commented in real time via email and the Astros scout's Slack channel, that they considered it to be an unreasonable request that would risk their reputations as scouts.
Earlier this year, the New York Yankees also accused the club of using another audio cue to steal signs. "It's really the last frontier that isn't banned. It's a way to get a competitive advantage without altering the actual players".