Tuesday afternoon, The Athletic aired a story about the Houston Astros allegedly stealing signs of their opponents during the 2017 season, a year in which they won the World Series. This news caught the sports world by surprise, but there was one TV program that may have had inside knowledge. Tuesday night, Jeopardy aired a question in which host Alex Trebek asked about stealing signs in MLB.
“This sneaky alliterative baseball action has been done using a telescope (1951) and an Apple watch (2017)," Trebek said to the players. The answer, as it turns out, was "stealing signs."
Contestant Steven Grade, who happens to be a sports industry consultant, quickly buzzed in and said the correct answer. He also mentioned the question on Twitter as the show was airing. The five-time champion in Grade even reached out to the SportsCenter Twitter account and asked if they had included a clip of the question.
While there could be the belief that this question was solely created by the writers to keep up with timely news items, that was not actually the case. Jeopardy is filmed months in advance, and the contestants sign non-disclosure agreements. This incident on Tuesday night just happened to be an odd coincidence.
On the clue in question, one of the teams referenced was the Boston Red Sox. Back in 2017, MLB fined the Red Sox for using Apple Watches to steal signs from the New York Yankees. Although the amount was not disclosed.
In the story released by The Athletic, there were multiple sources that revealed the Houston Astros had stolen signs from their opponents during the 2017 season and into the postseason. In order to achieve this, they set up a camera in centerfield, which was hooked up to a monitor in the team dugout.
Once the Astros determined exactly what each signal meant, they would transmit that information to the batters. Banging on a trash can was the primary source of information mentioned in the report. This normally represented a specific type of pitch, which would be a breaking ball or off-speed pitch.
Major League Baseball has since released a statement about the alleged cheating, saying that they would be reviewing the new information and looking to determine a course of action for the future.0comments
"As a result of those concerns, and after receiving extensive input from the General Managers, we issued a revised policy on sign stealing prior to the 2019 season," MLB said in the statement. "We also put in place detailed protocols and procedures to provide comfort to Clubs that other Clubs were not using video during the game to decode and steal signs. After we review this new information we will determine any necessary next steps."
(Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty)