Jan 30, 2020

An Astros fan logged his team's sign-stealing, trash-can-banging scandal

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Angry Astros fan Tony Adams spent the last few weeks meticulously sorting through every home game with available video from the 2017 regular season.

By the numbers: Adams logged 8,274 pitches and found trash can bangs in 1,143 (13.8%) of them. There were 58 games available.


  • The Farquhar incident: Adams found that the frequency of bangs fell abruptly on Sep. 22, which was the day after the Astros nearly got caught in the act by White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar.
  • Varied player to player: For instance, bangs could be heard in 18.1% of the pitches that Carlos Beltrán faced during the 58 games covered in the study, while that number plummets to 2.8% for José Altuve.

Go deeper: Spygate 2.0 hits the Houston Astros

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The Astros' apology tour

The Astros' Jose Altuve during a press conference in West Palm Beach. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are very sorry for cheating their way to a World Series win, even as their owner bizarrely flip-flopped on whether their cheating changed any games.

Why it matters: The sign-stealing scandal is among the biggest since the steroid era, spilling over into other clubs and giving MLB some nasty publicity.

Go deeperArrowFeb 13, 2020 - Sports

Inside the Astros' front office's sign stealing operation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Over the weekend, a bombshell Wall Street Journal report revealed that the Astros' front office was not only aware of the sign-stealing that was going on but, in fact, created the system in the first place. It even had a name: "Codebreaker."

How it worked: Using an in-game live feed, someone would log the catchers' signs and the type of pitch that was thrown into an Excel spreadsheet. An algorithm would then decipher what each sign meant and that information was communicated to a baserunner, who would relay it to the hitter.

Go deeperArrowFeb 11, 2020 - Sports

MLB's Rob Manfred is latest villain in Astros' cheating scandal

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's decision to grant Astros players immunity in exchange for confessions about their sign-stealing scheme has undermined his reputation — and he only made himself look worse on Sunday.

The interview: In a 45-minute conversation with ESPN, Manfred asserted that public shame was punishment enough for the Astros. He also called the World Series trophy "just a piece of metal" and said that taking a title away from Houston "seems like a futile act."

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Sports