MLB hammers Astros for cheating

Major League Baseball levied an unprecedented punishment to the Astros Monday, including suspending manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a year, after they were found to be using electronics to steal signs from 2017-2019. In response to the suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane has fired both Hinch and Luhnow.

Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic broke the news on the suspensions. Hinch and Luhnow were both considered among the best at their jobs in baseball prior to MLB's investigation. Hinch went 481-329 and won three division titles, two pennants and a World Series in his five seasons with the Astros. Luhnow oversaw a massive rebuilding process to take the Astros from one of the worst to best teams in baseball during the 2010s.

The Astros are also being docked their first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and the team has been fined $5 million, the maximum allowed by Major League Baseball. Former assistant GM Brandon Taubman, who was fired in October after making inappropriate comments towards female reporters during the team's ALCS clinching celebration, was also placed on baseball's ineligible list. The Astros will not be stripped of their 2017 World Series or their 2019 American League pennant.

No players are being punished for their involvement. Rosenthal did a segment with MLB Network to discuss commissioner Rob Manfred's ruling:

The Astros were found guilty of using a centerfield camera to steal signs during home games from 2017-2019. The feed would be routed to a screen in the dugout, and the people in the dugout would then relay the message to the batter by banging on a trash can.

In September 2017, MLB fined the Red Sox and Yankees for using electronics to steal signs. That put all 30 teams on notice, with the league threatening stricter sanctions against any team that was found guilty for using electronics to cheat. Three Pirates players — Joe Musgrove, Colin Moran and Michael Feliz — were part of the 2017 Astros team. New bench coach Don Kelly was the Astros' first base coach in 2019. Oz Ocampo, a special assistant to the Luhnow in Houston, joined the Pirates as a special assistant of player personnel on Jan. 3.

Luhnow made the follow statement:

The Red Sox and their manager Alex Cora, who was considered the mastermind behind the Astros' sign stealing when he was their bench coach in 2017, are also being investigated for similar allegations as the Astros. It is also being reported that Cora is facing harsh punishment for his participation in the Astros' scheme.

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