HOUSTON – The Houston Astros have been under fire since the controversial sign-stealing scheme came to light. Now, former general manager Jeff Luhnow is telling his side of the story.
Let’s take a look at how the scandal unfolded, and where the Astros stand today:
Dec. 11, 2019: MLB investigation on Astros widens
Major League Baseball interviewed almost 60 people and obtained about 76,000 electronic messages pertaining to allegations that the Astros broke the rules by using a television camera to steal signs. It’s actually pretty elaborate, read more here.
Jan. 7, 10:54 a.m.: MLB decision on Astros punishment said to be expected soon
MLB was expecting to have a decision soon on what punishment then-manager A.J. Hinch, then-general manager Jeff Luhnow and other members of the Astros front office would face. Sources said the organization could be hit with a very large fine.
Jan. 7, 6:12 p.m.: Boston Red Sox under investigation for similar sign-stealing scheme
The MLB said it would investigate allegations that the Red Sox illegally used their video replay room to steal signs between opposing pitchers and catchers during their 2018 World Series championship season.
MLB released a nine-page report regarding the Astros cheating scandal. The report’s main takeaways were the punishments:
- One-year suspension for Hinch
- One-year suspension for Luhnow
- $5 million fine (the largest the MLB allows)
- Loss of first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021
Jan. 13: Hinch, Luhnow fired
About one hour after the MLB announced the suspension of Hinch and Luhnow, Astros owner Jim Crane announced the dismissal of both at a news conference.
Jan. 13: Fans' loyalty is questioned
KRPC 2 asked fans how they felt about photos from the Astros 2017 championship celebration, after the news that the team’s manager and general manager had been fired. Would they remain loyal to the team or would they be ashamed to call themselves Astros fans?
We broke down the roles each person played in the Astros sign-stealing scheme. Those people were:
- Brandon Taubman, Astros former assistant general manager
- Alex Cora, Astros former bench coach
- Carlos Beltran, former Astros player (who went on to be hired by the New York Mets for a manager position. He stepped down less than three months later, before managing a game, as more details of the scandal emerged).
The Astros interviewed three candidates for the team’s manager position. The candidates included former Toronto Blue Jays coach John Gibbons, former Baltimore Orioles coach Buck Showalter and Chicago Cubs third-base coach Will Venable.
Owner Jim Crane told KPRC 2 that several candidates had been interviewed in person and over the phone. Up next on their list was veteran skipper Dusty Baker.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, of Illinois, sent a letter requesting the leadership of the Committee on Energy and Commerce to “investigate the Major League Baseball cheating scandal fully and to determine the extent to which this cancer has spread.”
Rush said the committee, via the Commerce Clause, has oversight of major league sports.
The Los Angeles City Council said MLB should strip the Astros and the Red Sox of their World Series titles as both teams were involved in a cheating scheme.
Jan. 22: Astros interview seven potential managers
Crane said seven candidates had been interviewed so far.
“We need someone strong that can handle the players,” he told KPRC 2.
Rob Manfred, the MLB’s commissioner, spoke in his first interview since the nine-page report release and assured that the MLB had no plans in taking away the Astros' 2017 World Series title for electronically stealing signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Jan. 29, 2020: Baker hired as new manager
Baker has officially signed on to be the next manager for the Houston Astros, the team announced. Baker, 70, became the 19th manager in franchise history.
Feb. 13, 2020: Astros address scandal, speaking publicly, apologizing
Team owner Jim Crane was joined by Baker and players Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve during a news conference at the team’s spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. Twitter had some fun with the event, questioning at times the sincerity of the comments.
This also marked the day the start of the regular season was pushed back. Opening Day had originally been scheduled for March 26. The MLB’s decision came after the NBA, NHL and MLS all suspended their seasons, which were already in progress, according to this website.
One day later, on March 13, the Yankees confirmed that a minor leaguer in the system had tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first MLB-affiliated player to be a confirmed coronavirus case. Training camps were officially suspended.
July 23, 2020: MLB season resumes
There would be minimal (or at times, no) fans and only 60 games, but the MLB finally came back after its coronavirus-related hiatus. The Astros opened July 24 against the Seattle Mariners.
October 2020: Astros make the postseason
It was a strange shortened season, but the Astros clinched a spot in the postseason, in large part due to the 16-team format. They struggled against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS, going down 3-0 and then coming back to force a Game 7. Ultimately, the Astros fell 4-2 in the contest, and were eliminated from the playoffs Saturday night.
Oct. 19, 2020: Luhnow tells his side of the story
After being fired amid the scandal, now we’ll finally get to hear from Luhnow himself. Previously, he had released a statement saying, in part, “I am not a cheater.”
Here is Jeff Luhnow's full statement, his first response to today's news. pic.twitter.com/9AbDFEtkbP— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) January 13, 2020
Moving forward, questions swirl
- Will George Springer and Michael Brantley stay, as free agency questions arise? Josh Reddick and Brad Peacock are also free agents.
- How will Justin Verlander recover after Tommy John surgery?
- Most importantly, perhaps, what will come from Luhnow’s interview?