Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros-fueled cheating scandal roiled its way into day four of controversy Thursday, amidst another managerial dismissal and new allegations of rule-breaking. The New York Mets ousted its manager Carlos Beltran, making the former Astros outfielder the third manager to be out of a job since MLB released its report Monday detailing how the Astros used in-house cameras to steal opposing teams’ signs and relay them to Astros batters. The Beltran news came as new allegations bubbled to the surface that not only had the Astros relayed stolen signs to batters by banging on trash cans, but that Houston players went a step further and used wearable devices that could buzz batters while at the plate to indicate what pitch was coming next.
MLB issued a statement saying it had found no evidence to substantiate the buzzer rumors, but that didn’t stop the furor. Online, burner Twitter accounts popped in and out of the discussion, lobbing new allegations, as every Astros at bat was now under scrutiny, every postgame interview grist for theories about the true extent of the team’s cheating ways. ESPN reported on the juiciest gossip dumped online by a now-disabled Twitter account that claimed Jose Altuve was tipped off by a buzzer during his walk-off home run during last year’s American League Championship off New York Yankees flame throwing closer Aroldis Chapman. The evidence that he was wearing a buzzer? From ESPN:
As he approaches home plate after his pennant-clinching homer, Altuve clearly and demonstrably tells his awaiting teammates not to yank off his jersey. When asked why during an on-field interview with Fox Sports, Altuve laughs and says, “I don’t know. I’m too shy. Last time they did that, I got in trouble with my wife.”
The accusation gained enough traction that Altuve and MLB felt compelled to respond. “I have never worn an electronic device in my performance as a major league player,” Altuve said in a statement. That sounds a lot like what Astros players have been saying for months about the accusations, yet another problem with cheating and then aggressively lying about it—you don’t have all that much credibility left. MLB, however, weighed in in response to the accusations saying it had found no evidence of the buzzer theory. “Other than described above,” the statement read, “the investigation did not reveal any other scheme or method utilized by the Astros to decode an opposing Club’s signs from 2016 to the present.”
As for Beltran, he departs the Mets before even presiding over a practice. The 20-year MLB veteran was not punished by the league for his role in the cheating scheme, which was considered substantial, because the league office chose not to punish players. Beltran, however, was the only player mentioned at all in the report, making it hard to imagine how he was going to make it to the spring as the Mets manager. Beltran follows Astros Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow out the door, though both Hinch and Luhnow received significant suspensions from MLB. The Boston Red Sox part with its manager Alex Cora this week, after Cora, who was the Astros bench coach during 2017, was implicated in MLB’s report . Cora has yet to face any disciplinary sanction from the league, though one is expected.