A.J. Hinch: 'I failed to stop' Astros' cheating

HOUSTON TX- OCTOBER 29 Bench coach Alex Cora #26 and manager A.J. Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros look on from the dugout during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park

Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended without pay for one season following the league's investigation into the cheating scheme, MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr., announced earlier.

The Houston Astros have fired two top officials today following an investigation by Major League Baseball into claims the team illegally stole pitching signs during a season that culminated in a championship.

In the report Cora, in contrast, reads like he was the mastermind. Cora, now the manager of the Boston Red Sox, could face punishment for his role in the scandal and the conclusion of the still-ongoing investigation. This doesn't usually happen when a team has, in three consecutive years, won the World Series, played for the pennant in the American League Championship Series, and come within three innings of winning a second World Series. "However, Hinch admits he did not stop it and he did not notify players or Cora that he disapproved of it".

Sign stealing has been around for nearly as long as the sport itself.

■ Crane did not know about the practice but was said to be "extraordinarily troubled" by it. (Whoever does take the job will have to navigate that particular minefield, as the previous regime signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the pitcher last week.) I will, like anyone hired to manage the Astros, rely heavily on the talents of José Altuve, Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and the rest of the roster. Manfred said Cora developed the sign-stealing system used by Houston.

"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", Manfred said. The replay room was established to provide managers with immediate access to review plays in order to help them decide if they wish to challenge a call on the field. Sometimes the information was communicated via text message to a staffer wearing a smart watch on the bench or a nearby phone. What the Red Sox allegedly did in 2018 isn't the elaborate scheme that the Astros were doing. Monday's report explains how the Astros knowingly used schemes involving technology after receiving the memo. Hitters are also allowed to visit the replay room during games to study their swing. The Astros used it to decode signs.

Takeaway: It means Cora had an outsized role in the most notable scandal originally reported by The Athletic in November. The scheme is described as "player driven". A player would act as a runner to bring the information to the dugout, where a runner on second would be signaled. That process stopped sometime during the season "because the players no longer believed it was effective".

Takeaway: After Cora left the team to take over as Red Sox manager, the use of the replay room dissipated.



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