Martino's book, Cheated: The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing, details Houston's sign-stealing in 2019, which differed slightly from the practice in previous years. According to Martino, the Astros would use television monitors to pick up the opposing catcher's signs, then use a whistling coach and massage gun to signal different pitches to the team's hitters.
MLB suspended former Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one year in January 2020 for their involvement in the team's sign-stealing system. The Astros were additionally stripped of their first-round and second-round draft picks in '20 and '21, and they were also fined $5 million.
The initial investigation into Houston's sign-stealing alleged the Astros stole signs through the 2017 season and into part of '18. But Martino's book challenges that finding. The Rays reportedly asked MLB to look for "Houston players wearing vibrating Band-Aids" during the '19 ALDS, and Martino details a tense interaction between the Yankees and Astros hitting coach Alex Cintrón during the '19 ALCS.
"The exact tone and volume of the whistle would vary, depending on the pitch that [Masahiro] Tanaka was about to throw," Martino wrote. "Yankees manager Aaron Boone and a few of his coaches started yelling across at Cintrón, telling him to stop."
“ 'What the f--- are you gonna do about it?' ” Cintrón called back."
Hinch vehemently denied all sign-stealing allegations during the 2019 playoffs. He said the claims of cheating were a "joke." He was fired in January '20, shortly after MLB issued his yearlong suspension.
Hinch returned to a Major League dugout in 2021 as he currently serves as the manager of the Tigers.
The Astros lost to the Nationals in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series. Houston reached the ALCS last season, and it currently sits at 34–26 in '21 entering Wednesday night.
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