Major League Baseball hammers Astros in cheating scandal; A.J. Hinch, GM fired

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander gets a pack on the back from manager A.J. Hinch after the team's 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels in a baseball game Wednesday

Former assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who was sacked in October, was placed on MLB's ineligible list for one year. The Astros will forfeit their next two first- and second-round draft picks.

Former assistant GM Brandon Taubman, who made insensitive remarks to women reporters after the ALCS, was suspended for one year.

The Astros are facing a severe punishment for sign-stealing in 2017, and it's all downhill from here.

A day after the Houston Texans failed to hold a 24-point lead against the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs, Major League Baseball handed down a massive punishment into the Astros sign-stealing scandal in 2017, the season they won the World Series. While Mets manager Carlos Beltran was part of the investigation, he was a player at the time and thus was not suspended.

Luhnow and Hinch were suspended for the 2020 season, but Crane said the team wanted to go beyond that ruling.

Astros employees in the team's video replay room started to decode signs using the center field camera at the start of the 2017 season.

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Now there could be extreme pressure on the Red Sox to fire manager Alex Cora, who is likely awaiting suspension for his role in developing the Astros' sign-stealing operation when he was the bench coach in 2017. MLB's investigation found that Crane was unaware of the sign-stealing activities by his team. The league also is investigating whether the Astros might have engaged in similar behavior over the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

MLB's Department of Investigations interviewed 27 witnesses, including 23 current and former Houston players, and reviews tens of thousands of emails, Slack communications, text messages, video clips and photographs. The runner would decode the catcher's sign and signal the batter.

Cora began calling the replay room for the information early in the season. The bench would then relay those signs to their hitters by banging on a trash can.

The team used a number of methods to steal signs, according to the commissioner's statement. "Generally, one or two bangs corresponded to certain off-speed pitches, while no bang corresponded to a fastball".

Should either Luhnow or Hinch be found to engage in "any future material violations" of Major League rules in the future, the offender will be placed on the permanently ineligible list.

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