(KNOE) - Major League Baseball has handed down harsh punishments in the Astros sign-stealing scandal. The punishments, announced on Jan 13. 2020, are some of the harshest the game's ever seen outside outrighting banning.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow have both suspended a year for their parts in the scandal. The team has also been fined $5 million and will lose their next two first round and second round draft picks.
Hinch and Luhnow were both fired by owner Jim Crane shortly after the punishments were announced.
The report said the sign-stealing scheme was devised by current Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and current New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who were with the Astros at the time. MLB also says there was no evidence that owner Jim Crane knew about the rule violations.
According to ESPN reporter Jeff Passan, Hinch was not an active participant in the sign-stealing but was aware of it and punished for not doing enough to stop it.
Even though Astros manager AJ Hinch disagreed with the use of video -- going so far as to damage a monitor used in the scheme multiple times to show his disapproval -- he was still suspended for a year. pic.twitter.com/kg0feY9oQC— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2020
MLB says Astros players and coaches used their home park centerfield camera toi steal signs from the opposing team's catcher. The camera sent the video to a monitor near the home dugout where players were able to decode the signs and relay those signs audibly to the batter by banging on a trash can. Banging indicated an off-speed pitch was coming No banging indicated a fastball. While sign-stealing on the field is legal, using electronic equipment to do so is not.
MLB says they did this during the 2017 season, including the 2017 postseason. The Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series with two home wins and two wins on the road, including a game 7 win in Los Angeles. Carlos Beltran subsequently retired and took a job as a special advisor for the New York Yankees. Alex Cora went on to manage the Red Sox.
The MLB investigation found that the trash can banging scheme was not in use after 2017, but says some staff members used the replay review room in an effort to decode signs for at least part of the 2018 season. It was abandoned when it was deemed ineffective.
MLB says there were no violations during the 2018 postseason and there no violations during the entire 2019 season.
Passan says Alex Cora could face harsher punishment for his direct involvement in the scheme. MLB is currently investigating the Red Sox for using electronic devices to steal signs in 2018.
Although players were involved in the scandal, no players were suspended as part of the investigation. Responsibility for the scandal is being thrust upon the team's management. Beltran did not face punishment as part of the investigation.
The investigation began when former Astros Mike Fiers went public in 2019 with allegations that the Astros violated the rules in 2017. He was part of the team from 2015-2017 but was left off the postseason roster in 2017 in lieu of better pitching options. 68 witnesses, including 23 current and former Astros players were interviewed as part of the investigation.
One video released on Twitter early in the investigation showed Evan Gattis appearing to benefit from the system. Gattis is no longer on the team.
Hinch's one-season suspension is one of the longest suspensions faced by a top coach in professional sports in the South. Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended for an entire season in 2012 for his part in the 'Bountygate' scandal. He continues to coach the Saints with a 131–77 record.