In an essay published Wednesday in The Players' Tribune, Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer detailed his thoughts on the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal. Bauer, who has long been an outspoken critic of the Astros, writes that he wishes he would have been wrong when he claimed in 2018 that Houston was cheating. At the time, he alleged the Astros pitchers were using an illegal substance to increase their spin rates, but he said what is now known about Houston's cheating is among the biggest stain's on baseball in the sport's history.
"Personally I think that what’s going on in baseball now is up there with the Black Sox scandal, and that it will be talked about forever—more so than steroids," Bauer writes. "Like the steroid era, you can say what you want about it, but steroids weren’t really illegal at the time.
"The sign-stealing that was going on in Houston, though, was blatantly illegal. And with the rules that were implemented last year and the year before — that, by the way, were then still broken — it was very clear."
News regarding the team's illicit sign-stealing scheme has dominated baseball conversations since the end of the 2019 season. On Jan. 13, commissioner Rob Manfred released a nine-page report detailing how Houston cheated during the 2017-18 regular seasons and postseasons. Manfred suspended Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow through the 2020 World Series, but team owner Jim Crane subsequently fired them.
The Red Sox and Mets later parted ways with managers Alex Cora and Carlos Beltrán after both men were named in MLB's report. Cora served as the Astros' bench coach in 2017, while Beltrán was a member of the World Series-winning roster.
Countless players, including both current and former Astros, have been asked about the incident. Crane even reportedly held a meeting with the time team on Wednesday ahead of Spring Training to address the situation.
Bauer writes that players had been hearing rumblings about sign-stealing—the trash cans, the videotaping of dugouts—"and all sorts of different stuff in Houston for about two or three years now." Even though players "weren’t too happy about it, a lot of us also didn’t really feel comfortable saying anything about it publicly.
"With no evidence, it’s very tricky—if you’re wrong, you’re talking millions of dollars, your livelihood, your family, your reputation," he writes. "So stuff had been talked about plenty amongst players, but almost all of it was behind closed doors.
"MLB only addressed the sign-stealing problem because it had to. Because former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers came forward last November and spoke to The Athletic."
Bauer, who is known as one of baseball's most intense players, is often criticized for his direct approach with teammates and on social media. But the pitcher notes that "fixing this problem is so important."
"Not just for the game, but also for the guys who play it. I’m one of them, and I want to know that when I’m competing, everything is fair and honest.