The Baltimore Orioles have long struggled at Minute Maid Park in Houston. It was almost uncanny; for some time it’s almost been that no matter how good an Oriole pitcher was looking, Houston would always find a way to get to him. However now we have to wonder if that was more that the Orioles weren’t that good, or if Houston was getting help.
Houston has long been known as an organization that steals signs. We all heard the story during the post season of how they would bang on the top of the dugout or on a trashcan in the dugout to relay signs and signals to their hitters. But now…it seems that the story is gaining legs.
Former Houston Astro Mike Fiers has recently come forward and admitted that the team was using cameras in the outfield to steal signs. Those cameras would beam the signs to the dugout in real time, and then the smack on the dugout or trash can would relay the pitch to the hitter. Seems like there was always more than meets the eye.
Incidentally, this isn’t a foray into the typical unwritten codes argument. Stealing signs is against those unwritten codes. But it’s not against the rules. Using an electronic device to steal signs IS against the rules. There’s cheating, and then there’s cheating. This is a pretty big one.
Fiers specifically said that this would occur when he played in Houston in 2017. And as you’ll recall, Houston won the World Series that year. So…where does that leave us? MLB has said that they’re going to conduct an investigation. For the record, the Houston Astros said they support that effort.
How long had this been going on? Because as I said, the Orioles always seemed to struggle in that park. Had they not been at an apparent disadvantage, perhaps some of those years would have resulted in more wins. Yes, that sounds subjective. And it is. But consider this; had the 2016 Orioles had even one more victory, they would have finished statistically ahead of Toronto. That means they would have hosted the American League Wild Card Game. The O’s went 1-6 against Houston that year. As I said, consider that.
If you look at cheaters in the NCAA, teams literally are made to vacate victories. I don’t see MLB making Houston do that. Odds are they’ll end up getting fined or have to forfeit draft picks. But forcing them to vacate wins and vacate their World Series would certainly send a message.