SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The baseball world is reeling following The Athletic's report earlier this week detailing how the Houston Astros electronically stole signs in 2017.
It was a revelation that will have a major impact on the sport — and the Astros, in particular — for years to come, but it was not altogether surprising. Sign stealing has been a staple in the game for decades and recent technology has only added different avenues for teams looking to cheat.
What was most notable here was the alleged use of a centerfield camera in Houston that allowed the Astros to determine what pitch was coming in the dugout and then relayed that information to teammates in the batter's box by banging on a garbage can.
Here's a great example of the Astros' system at work:
Astros using cameras to steal signs, a breakdown pic.twitter.com/rncm6qzXxw— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) November 12, 2019
Theo Epstein was asked about the scandal at the GM Meetings Wednesday and initially admitted it's best for him and presidents/GMs of other teams not to comment on the matter while MLB took the lead looking into the matter.
"Certainly not something to be swept under the rug," Epstein then said. "It needs to be fully investigated and bring light to it and I'm sure there will be appropriate action taken."
Epstein said he and the Cubs have encountered similar sign-stealing tactics in the past (including in the playoffs), but wouldn't get into any specifics with teams.
"There are always a number of teams that there's rumors about or more than rumors," Epstein said. "It's just part of baseball. I'm sure some of them are based in fact and some are based in fiction. It's just important that any time this type of stuff comes up, MLB has to investigate it and take it really seriously and we understand that they are."
With the Astros in particular, their sign-stealing may have had a major impact on the career of current Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish. The veteran right-hander pitched against the Astros in the 2017 World Series and gave up 8 earned runs on 9 hits and 2 walks in 3.1 innings across two starts in that Fall Classic. The first of those two outings came in Houston in Game 3.
It was initially thought Darvish was tipping his pitches, but the Dodgers have since concluded that wasn't the case:
Make of this what you will: Chase Utley studied Yu Darvish's starts in the World Series, and reported back to Andrew Friedman that Darvish was not giving off pitch-tipping cues. https://t.co/I2B1U6YWXj— Andy McCullough (@ByMcCullough) November 13, 2019
Those were the last two outings for Darvish before he entered free agency and eventually signed a six-year pact with the Cubs. As he went through a difficult debut season in Chicago, he admitted that the way his Dodgers tenure ended and the backlash he received from fans in L.A. was tough to deal with.
As we've seen many times already this offseason, Darvish responded in hilarious fashion to the news on Twitter:
Why am I tranding?— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) November 12, 2019
Do people finally realize I'm cool? pic.twitter.com/ji73rT9ram
He's also received apologies from a number of Dodgers fans who now have more context regarding Darvish's performance in the World Series.
These latest reports on the Astros won't help the Dodgers garner a 2017 World Series trophy and it won't change Darvish's numbers, but at least it's some vindication for the Cubs pitcher.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.