Alex Cora, former Houston Astros bench coach and Red Sox manager, was found guilty of using video surveillance to help steal catchers' signals to pitchers while working for the Astros. On January 13, 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) delivered a historic punishment to the Houston Astros. The penalties included year-long suspensions of manager, A.J. Hinch, and general manager, Jeff Luhnow. The two were later fired by Astros owner, Jim Crane. Cora, who was with the Astros when they won the World Series in 2017, moved to the Boston Red Sox and allegedly continued his past behavior of stealing signals. The Red Sox went on to win 108 games and the 2018 World Series.
The scheme was enacted by placing a camera in the back of the field which relayed the images to a monitor behind the dugout. This allowed coaches and players to see what the next planned pitch would be. Then a player would beat a trash can to signal the type of pitch coming. In addition to the above punishment, the Astros were fined $5 million, and they got their first two draft picks of 2020 and 2021 taken away. This is the largest scandal in U.S. professional sports since the Patriot's 2007-2008 so-called Spygate.
Cora's alleged activities with the Boston Red Sox are under investigation. The Red Sox released Cora, and the accusations indicate that while with the Red Sox, he used electronic surveillance from the replay room to steal signals. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred believes the integrity of major league baseball is at stake. That is why they engaged in such an exhaustive investigation involving 68 witnesses (23 of them current or former Astros players) and tens of thousands of texts, emails, video clips, and photographs. A similar investigation is now underway with the Boston Red Sox to detect if parallel misconduct occurred. Similar fines and penalties are expected if the misconduct is uncovered.
Interestingly enough, a Los Angeles Times article of the scandal ran with the headline "Astros Cheating Scandal Becomes a Topic of Discussion in High Schools." Many high school coaches and teachers are using this scandal as an example for students, including student athletes. They want players to understand that ethics are important and that the game should be played the right way. Stealing signs with the naked eye is okay, but using technology to obtain signs is against the rules of the game and a violation of league policy.
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