Baseball legend Pete Rose says he didn’t taint the game of baseball like the Houston Astros did.
The Astros’ cheating scandal during the 2017 playoffs and 2018 season involved a video camera being set up in center field at Minute Maid Park, which sent a video feed to the clubhouse where players or team employees could identify a pitcher’s call sign or hand signal and alert batters to know how to bat against a fastball or a breaking ball.
Doing so is considered cheating, and a violation of league rules.
Catchers and pitchers use hand signals to decide whether to throw a fast ball, curve ball, or other kind of pitch. Players and coaches are allowed to decode their hand signs, but MLB rules prohibit the use of electronics to steal them.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow for a year. Within an hour they were both fired.
Manfred said the team’s conduct “caused fans, players, executives at other MLB clubs, and members of the media to raise questions about the integrity of games in which the Astros participated.”
The Astros were fined the highest amount allowable by MLB rules of $5 million and prohibited from having first- and second-round draft selections for the next two seasons.
Former Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who the league said helped develop the scheme, and later signed with the Red Sox, is no longer with the Red Sox after MLB’s findings were made public.
Now, MLB is reportedly investigating whether the Red Sox used a similar scheme while Cora was its manager in 2018.
Rose told NJ.com, “I bet on my own team to win. That’s what I did in a nutshell. I was wrong, but I didn’t taint the game. I didn’t try to steal any games. I never voted against my team. I bet on my team every night because that’s the confidence that I had in my players. And I was wrong,” Rose said.
— theScore MLB (@theScoreMLB) January 14, 2020
Jeff Passan at ESPN describes it best:
A look inside the sausage factory of power: How Astros owner Jim Crane navigated a cheating scandal and emerged with a penalty that left other owners biting their tongues after Rob Manfred told them not to say anything about it.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 14, 2020
Manfred said: “Although Luhnow denies having any awareness that his replay review room staff was decoding and transmitting signs, there is both documentary and testimonial evidence that indicates Luhnow had some knowledge of those efforts, but he did not give it much attention.”
Hinch knew about the cheating scheme, Manfred says, and he didn’t do anything about it. While he might have not approved of it, Manfred noted, evidence suggests that Hinch damaged the monitor being used for the scheme on two separate occasions.
“Although the Astros’ players did not attempt to hide what they were doing from Hinch or other Astros employees, they were concerned about getting caught by players from other teams,” Manfred said in his report. “Several players told my investigators that there was a sense of ‘panic’ in the Astros’ dugout after White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar appeared to notice the trash can bangs.”
Astros owner Jim Crane said he was “very upset” when he found out about the scheme. He said at a press conference, “If you read the report, neither one of those guys implemented this or pushed it from the system. It came from the bottom up … but neither one did anything about it and the consequences are severe.”
Crane said the franchise will implement a new compliance system to prevent cheating in the future.
But it may be too late. Do Astros fans want to be identified with cheaters?