Former Ranger is the Latest Victim of Astros' Cheating Scandal

Chris Halicke

After a long offseason of expectation, Major League Baseball finally levied their harsh penalties this past Monday against the Houston Astros for using technology to steal signs. It came at a perfect time. With just under a month until pitchers and catchers report, MLB could issue its judgement, let the media and fans talk about it and everyone could move on.

Or so we thought. Sometimes, optimists like myself can be so foolish. By this time now, we should know through the power of social media, things could spiral out of control faster than you can bang on a trash can. 

Former Texas Ranger Carlos Beltran is the latest victim of the fallout of the Astros' punishment. On Thursday, Beltran and the New York Mets mutually agreed to part ways, effectively ending his tenure as the Mets' manager.

Beltran played in 52 games for the Rangers in 2016 after being acquired from the Yankees in an effort to bolster the roster for a playoff run. The Rangers were swept in the American League Division Series that season by the Toronto Blue Jays. 

As a Ranger, Beltran slashed .280/.325/.451 with seven home runs and 29 RBI's. He went 2-for-11 in the three postseason games with Texas. 

Carlos Beltran was the only player specifically named in Major League Baseball's report on the Astros' sign-stealing scheme. According to the report, Beltran and a group of players "discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter."

In the fallout of MLB's report, Astros' owner Jim Crane fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch roughly an hour after the announcement of their year-long suspensions by Major League Baseball. 

The following day, the Red Sox and manager Alex Cora, who was the Astros' bench coach in 2017, mutually agreed to part ways. According to MLB's report, Cora was found to be the ringleader of the Astros' plot to steal signs electronically. His punishment from MLB has yet to be announced as the investigation continues to look into the allegations of the Red Sox illegally stealing signs in 2018. The Red Sox, with Cora as the manager, won the World Series in 2018.

Thursday not only saw the end of Beltran's abbreviated tenure as the Mets' manager. Jessica Mendoza, a baseball analyst for ESPN and Mets' front office employee, shared her disagreement with Mike Fiers "going public" with revealing the Astros' scheme. Her comments were met with much scrutiny on social media.

The outrage on social media only grew when a Twitter user named QT (@S0_blessed1) claiming to be the niece of Carlos Beltran, tweeted some allegations that Astros' players Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman wore devices that "buzzed on inside right shoulder from hallway video guy."

ESPN's Marly Rivera reported later that the Beltran family told her that this individual was not related to the family in any way.

Of course, whether it's fact or fiction, allegations went rampant on Twitter. Jose Altuve's walk-off home run in game six of this past season's American League Championship Series became the number one topic of discussion. 

As Altuve approached home plate, he implored his teammates to not rip off his jersey. Twitter lip-reading "experts" alleged Altuve said "I got a piece on. No, I got a piece on" as he entered the scrum of teammates ready to celebrate. 

Other Twitter users claimed Altuve was saying "no la camisa," which of course is Spanish for "not the shirt." When asked by reporter Ken Rosenthal in the postgame interview why he asked them not to tear his shirt, Altuve said he was "too shy" and "the last time they did that, I got in trouble with my wife."

Josh Reddick was also in the center of allegations. Some pictures of him after the Astros won the American League pennant went under severe scrutiny that he was wearing a piece of tape and a wire. 

That piece of tape turned out to be confetti from the postgame celebration and the alleged wire turned out to be a thin necklace.

With the Astros suffering penalties from Major League Baseball for cheating, unfortunately, the benefit of the doubt goes out the window for a lot of people. It is a little curious why Altuve implored his teammates to not rip his jersey off, then head quickly to the dugout and change into the championship t-shirt. 

According to Major League Baseball, there was no evidence the Astros' players wore buzzers in 2019. 

With Beltran spending an abbreviated time with the Rangers, some fans have speculated whether or not Beltran aided the Rangers at all to find an unfair advantage that violated MLB's rules. 

At a press conference to announce the signings of Robinson Chirinos and Todd Frazier, general manager Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward addressed the topics surrounding the cheating scandal.

Chris Woodward was the third base coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 and 2018. The Dodgers fell to both the Astros and the Red Sox in the World Series in each of those seasons respectively. 

“I am not going to get personal,” Woodward said at Wednesday's press conference. “I just think from a coaching standpoint, staff standpoint, manager, one of the things I preach heavily is getting an advantage in every way. We know other teams are doing it. We don’t know if they’re crossing a line. All we can do is make sure we don’t cross that line."

“We have to certify that, to the best of our knowledge, we’ve played by the explicit rules that have been laid out," Jon Daniels said, addressing their compliance with MLB. "You’re not in every spot every time. You can’t be in every room at every point in time, butI’m confident we didn’t cross that line, that our players and staff honored that, and we told the league as much.”

Despite there being an unnamed team Beltran brought this scheme from, Jon Daniels refutes that the Rangers were that team. 

Sign-stealing has been a part of baseball for a long, long time. It comes in many forms, but when the commissioner of baseball draws a line and issues warnings for crossing that line, teams have to adhere to the boundaries. The Rangers are firmly confident they are in compliance with Major League Baseball's standards. 

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