Report: Yankees Believed Astros Used Blinking Lights to Steal Signs in 2019 ALCS

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIINovember 28, 2019

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 19:  A New York Yankees hat and glove are seen in the dugout during Game Six of the League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 19, 2019 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Another cheating allegation has been levied against the Houston Astros.

According to SNY's Andy Martino, the New York Yankees complained to MLB "about blinking lights in center field" during Game 6 of the 2019 American League Championship Series at Houston's Minute Maid Park.

"The blinking ceased after the early innings," Martino wrote. "The Yankees also suspected that Houston was alternating whistling and hand signs, depending on the inning, and that the type of whistling varied depending on the pitch."

The Yankees' complaint about the Astros' whistling was revealed during the ACLS when Martino reported it Oct. 16 between Games 3 and 4:

"Yankees players and coaches became angry with the Astros during Game 1 of the ALCS when they noticed a whistling sound in the Astros' dugout -- which they believed was an over-the-line example of sign stealing, and a violation of the game's unwritten rules.

"According to three sources, a Yankees coach noticed a whistling sound in the opposing dugout on certain pitches on Saturday night in Houston. The Yankees started yelling across the field, and people in the dugouts argued back and forth."

Hinch denied the claims at his press conference the following day:

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The Astros went on to defeat the Yankees in the ALCS in six games. They lost the World Series to the Washington Nationals in seven games.

Cheating allegations remained dormant until Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers, who won the 2017 World Series with the Astros, told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich on Nov. 12 that the club "stole signs during home games in real time with the aid of a camera positioned in the outfield" during that championship season.

Three other anonymous former Astros relayed the information to The Athletic along with Fiers. MLB then launched an investigation into Houston's conduct spanning the last three seasons.

League commissioner Rob Manfred commented on the ongoing situation: "That investigation is going to encompass not only what we know about '17, but also '18 and '19. To the extent we are talking to people all over the industry, former employees, competitors, whatever. To the extent that we find other leads, we're going to follow these leads."

Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times reported what could be another lead for Manfred to look into: Delino DeShields Jr. and Ramon Laureano, both drafted by the Astros. The former is an outfielder for the Texas Rangers, the latter an outfielder for the Athletics.

Neither made it to MLB with Houston, but that didn't stop them from corroborating perception that the Astros have stolen signs. DeShields said he was "not really surprised by it."

"I was with them a couple of years ago," Laureano said. "It doesn't surprise me."

DeShields added, in part:

"We'd wonder how certain things happened. One day they would look really bad, and the next they're putting everything in play. I was in that organization and I’m close with a lot of those guys and I’d ask them, ‘What’s different about you guys? How do you go from being the worst team in baseball as far as strikeouts go to being the best team as far as not striking out?'"

On Nov. 16, Martino reported the league could not "conclusively determine" the Astros were whistling during Game 1 of the ALCS: "A league official sitting on the dugout level did not report whistling. But when MLB reviewed video of Game 1 in Houston, officials did hear frequent loud whistling on the footage, sources told SNY. However, the league could not conclusively determine if the sounds were coming from the Astros dugout or the crowd."

Martino's report Wednesday noted that "a small handful of teams" are also accused of stealing signs.