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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Houston Astros used a camera to help steal signs during their 2017 championship season, pitcher Mike Fiers and three other unnamed former Astros told The Athletic (subscription).

How it worked: "A feed from a camera in center field, fixed on the opposing catcher's signs, was hooked up to a television monitor that was placed … in the tunnel that runs between the dugout and the clubhouse."

  • "Team employees and players would watch the screen during the game and try to decode signs — sitting opposite the screen on massage tables in a wide hallway."
  • "When the onlookers believed they had decoded the signs, the expected pitch would be communicated via a loud noise — specifically, banging on a trash can, which sat in the tunnel."

The kicker: There is video evidence to support it.

Why it matters: While it's not illegal to steal signs, there are rules against using technology for an advantage — something the Astros clearly violated if these claims are true.

  • The backdrop: Sign stealing allegations have surrounded the Astros organization for years. In 2018, they were accused of clapping in the dugout to relay stolen signs, and in this year's ALCS, the Yankees said they were whistling to do the same.

What they're saying:

"Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time."
— Astros official statement

The big picture: This is obviously a terrible look for Houston. Unless MLB's investigation proves otherwise, one of the few modern sports dynasties was either (1) the best team in baseball and they cheated, or (2) the best team in baseball because they cheated.

The bigger picture: Between this, the juiced baseballs, past sign-stealing scandals (remember when the Red Sox used an Apple Watch?) and claims of teams colluding to suppress player salaries, MLB's brand feels very… opaque.

The bottom line: Spygate has come to MLB, and the Houston Astros are officially the New England Patriots of baseball.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.