NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Were the New York Yankees right all along?
Major League Baseball has expanded its investigation into the Houston Astros after sports reporting website “The Athletic” reported the team allegedly stole signs during home games in 2017 by using a camera positioned in center field.
It begs the question — was New York possibly cheated out of not one, but two trips to the World Series in recent years?
The report Tuesday quoted pitcher Mike Fiers, who played for the Astros that season, and three other unidentified people with the club. The Astros won the World Series that year, including defeating the Yankees at Minute Maid Park in Houston during a classic seven-game ALCS.
Two sources told The Athletic that Houston used the system into the playoffs while another source said it ended before the postseason. New York lost all four games in Houston during the championship series — spoiling their best chance of returning to the World Series since 2009.
The website said the process was started by a struggling hitter and a coach, neither of whom was identified. The camera at Minute Maid Park was connected to a television monitor in the tunnel between the Astros’ dugout and clubhouse, The Athletic said, and team employees or players would communicate expected pitches by banging a trash can to signal off-speed pitches.
“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers told the website.
The Astros said in a statement the team “has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball” and declined additional comment.
MLB strengthened its rules against sign stealing before the 2019 season, instituting procedures attempting to ensure teams did not use video to steal signs.
“After we review this new information we will determine any necessary next steps,” MLB said in a statement.
The Yankees re-ignited the sign-stealing firestorm surrounding the Astros during this year’s ALCS — which saw Houston again beat the Yankees at Minute Maid Park.
New York’s bench got into a shouting match with Astros players and coaches, accusing Houston of again stealing signs and whistling to relay important information about the Yankees’ strategy in ALCS Game 1.
MLB was already investigating the Astros. Assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was fired for directing inappropriate comments at female reporters during a clubhouse celebration after the team beat the Yankees to win the AL pennant on Oct. 19. The team issued and then retracted a statement accusing a Sports Illustrated reporter of trying to “fabricate a story.” Taubman was fired by the Astros on Oct. 24.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)