In a week overrun with trade rumors that have honestly gone quite sideways, the Astros scandal has taken something of a backseat. Still, fresh news surrounding the Astros tried to sneak by this week, much to the preference of Major League Baseball.
Now, internet personality Jomboy is back with an update that helps sort out everything that tried to hide here early in February. Keep in mind, some language used in this video is not safe for work.
Immediately Jomboy — also known as Jimmy O’Brien — calls out MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the cheating investigation which conveniently singled out players and front office members no longer employed by Houston.
It’s fair to say that (outside of Texas) the general feeling from baseball fans is that the Astros and its active players got away with the scheme. Because they did. Key members of the club participated in and benefited from the illegal sign stealing, won a World Series in 2017 — and celebrated it — and didn’t even get a slap on the wrist for their transgressions.
For the purpose of avoiding old scars, let’s move on from that can of worms.
On Friday, two new major moments in this scandal dropped. First, Wall Street Journal scribe Jared Diamond released a tell-all with added details omitted from the commissioner’s report. Next, former Astros manager AJ Hinch sat down for a one-on-one interview with MLB Network’s Tom Verducci to answer questions about the scandal.
The problem was that he mostly didn’t… but first, let’s break down the WSJ article.
EXCLUSIVE: A January letter from Rob Manfred to Jeff Luhnow reveals the Astros "dark arts" and "Codebreaker" — the operation behind the Astros' sign-stealing scandal.https://t.co/wrh3EJCICy
— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) February 7, 2020
Jared Diamond writes about the “dark arts” in Houston known as “Codebreaker.” Codebreaker was an “Excel-based application programmed with an algorithm that could decode the opposing catchers’ signs.” Now, until this WSJ article, the feeling MLB wanted you to have was that the Astros front office didn’t have full knowledge of the cheating going on in and around the dugout at Minute Maid Park.
However, Diamond refutes that heavily.
The existence of Codebreaker shows that it was the Astros front office that laid the groundwork for the team’s electronic sign-stealing schemes.
During MLB’s probe, [Houston GM Jeff] Luhnow maintained that he had no knowledge of any of the Astros’ misconduct. However, Manfred wrote in his letter that ‘there is more than sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that you knew — and overwhelming evidence that you should have known — that the Astros maintained a sign-stealing program that violated MLB’s rules.’
Around the 3:54 minute mark in Jomboy’s video, O’Brien digs in to questionable verbiage in the commissioner’s report that really helps back Diamond’s findings. It also begins to paint the picture of where manager AJ Hinch sat on all of this sign stealing, and importantly, how much he may have known.
In short, the Astros paid a lot of money to an “advance information” department to work on stealing signs in real-time, and people like Hinch and Luhnow at the very least knew about it.
Now onto AJ and the Buzzers.
While the system was easy enough to run at their home ballpark — see sign, bang can — the wonder remains how did they do this on the road? And by the way, evidence strongly suggests it was done on the road as well.
The ‘banging scheme’ lasted through the 2017 World Series, which the Astros won over the Los Angeles Dodgers … But everything started with Codebreaker, and the use of it to steal signs continued into 2018 — not just at home, but also on the road.
Surely it’s easy enough to watch the catcher’s signs at any MLB stadium, but relaying the signs is the tough part.
Rumors of “hands up on the bullpen fence” having meaning to a batter have circulated. But so to has the rumor of electronic buzzers being in play.
I’ve heard this from multiple parties too, for what it’s worth… https://t.co/zDlp0x4bKs
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) January 16, 2020
Now, the commissioner’s office said the investigation found no evidence of buzzers being in play. But if we’re being truthful here, investigators never really wanted much to do with this scandal in the first place. MLB hoped it would all go away. Thankfully, we all have Jomboy who helped make it something they no longer could ignore.
But let’s play along here… if no buzzers, then why was Jose Altuve so adamant about his teammates not ripping off his jersey after hitting a walk-off home run that sent the club to its second World Series in three seasons? And why run off the field before changing into your ALCS champs shirt only to come right back on field for an interview?
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) January 17, 2020
Altuve the shy guy…
Jose Altuve is very shy for sure. pic.twitter.com/HHEz5FiEaV
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) January 17, 2020
Now where this gets fun (infuriating) again is when former Astros manager AJ Hinch completely avoided Tom Verducci’s questioning about the buzzers (15:14 mark in the Jomboy video above).
Hinch took the Alex Bregman route.
We got investigated for three months and the commissioner’s office did as thorough an investigation as anyone could imagine was possible. I know he mentioned the e-mails and the texts and the messages… and I believe him.
That wasn’t the question, AJ. The question was “we’ve heard reports about the Astros players wearing buzzers … can you assure us there were no buzzers?” A pretty straight forward yes or no question.
All in all, there is a lot to unpack from all of this. It truly was a top to bottom effort that more people knew about than they all lead on. Of course, with the commissioner granting players immunity in exchange for their cooperation in the investigation, it unfortunately seems like while more information may continue to come out, the players involved will still get away scot-free.