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Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Photo: Adam Glanzman/MLB via Getty Images

With MLB nearing a decision on the Astros front, the sign-stealing controversy has broadened, with anonymous team sources telling The Athletic that the Red Sox "cheated" during their 2018 World Series championship season.

How it worked: Players allegedly visited the video replay room — a room near the dugout meant to help managers decide whether to challenge a call — to steal signs and relay them to the dugout. That information was then shared with a baserunner, who would use body movements to communicate with the batter.

Context: The Red Sox and Yankees were punished for a similar misuse of the replay room in 2017, but starting in 2018, MLB strictly prohibited the use of the replay room to steal signs.

Worth noting: Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who served as the Houston Astros bench coach in 2017, has now been caught in the middle of both sign-stealing scandals this offseason.

  • The Astros used a camera to help steal signs during their 2017 championship season, pitcher Mike Fiers and three other unnamed former Astros claimed in November.

What they're saying: "It's cheating," one person who was with the 2018 Red Sox told The Athletic. "Because if you're using a camera to zoom in on the crotch of the catcher, to break down the sign system, and then take that information and give it out to the runner, then he doesn't have to steal it."

The big picture: Baseball's steroids scandal was far uglier than this. There's just something about athletes sneakily sticking syringes in their butts that makes your jaw drop, while teams using illegal cameras and video feeds feels slightly less jarring and easier to swallow.

  • Yes, but: The fallout could look quite similar. "Judgments on players and teams are being reconsidered. The legitimacy of championships is being questioned. The world has become a little more cynical, and what used to be a simple escapist activity feels more complicated," writes LA Times' Dylan Hernandez.

The bottom line: Both the 2017 and 2018 World Series champions may have cheated — a black eye for a league that already has some transparency concerns, and an infuriating development for the Yankees and Dodgers, who were eliminated from the playoffs by both teams (Dodgers in the World Series both times).

Go deeper: MLB vs. sign stealing

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
56 mins ago - Podcasts

Net neutrality on the line under Biden

Federal net neutrality rules are back on the table in the Biden administration, after being nixed by Trump, but now might be complicated by the debate over social media companies' behavior.

Axios Re:Cap digs into why net neutrality matters and what comes next with Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge and host of the Decoder podcast.

House grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House voted 326-78 on Thursday to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the way for the Senate to confirm President Biden's nominee for defense secretary as early as this week.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.

Amanda Gorman steals the show on Inauguration Day

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Axios Visuals

Poet Amanda Gorman by far generated the most average interactions on social media on Inauguration Day, according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.