The Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal grows as people speculate on social media about whether players wore buzzers during games.
The punishment handed down by MLB to the Houston Astros for their sign-stealing scheme has not ended speculation about the breadth of their cheating.
On the same day that the New York Mets fired manager Carlos Beltran for his involvement in the Astros’ cheating scandal, the narrative in Houston has taken another turn on social media: buzzers.
Thursday’s complicated saga has mostly unfolded on Twitter, where someone claiming to be Beltran’s niece tweeted that Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman wore buzzers on their bodies that were connected to the person watching the video feed from center field.
Marley Rivera, a reporter for ESPN, then said the Beltran family had confirmed that this individual was not related to Beltran in any way. But it isn’t clear whether the information contained in the tweets is true or not.
Speculation began to grow that this could be a burner account from a player or another MLB official, a statement put forth by another MLB relative, Gary Sheffield Jr.
Fans also pointed to a video of Altuve from the 2019 ALCS, when he hit a walk-off home run to send the Astros to the World Series and was adamant that teammates not rip off his jersey when he reached the celebrations at home plate.
Some credence was given to the allegations by at least one active MLB player. Trevor Bauer, a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, weighed in and said that he has heard this information from multiple parties. It’s not the first time that Bauer has chimed in on the Astros’ scandal.
Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger, Bauer’s former teammate in Cleveland, said Astros players “shouldn’t feel comfortable looking at any of us in the eye let alone on the field.”
Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart called it “an entirely new level and indefensible if you’re on the other side of it.”
And for what it’s worth, MLB seems to have previously been aware of the speculation. Commissioner Rob Manfred told Sports Illustrated in an interview last week that, “we found no Band-Aid buzzer issues. There’s a lot of paranoia out there.”
MLB also issued a new statement Thursday, addressing the speculation around the Altuve video, saying, the league “explored wearable devices during the investigation but found no evidence to substantiate it.”
So, a fake Twitter account– which could possibly belong to an MLB player– is suggesting that the cheating scandal in Houston goes further than previously thought. Is it simply paranoia, as Manfred suggested, or is this another layer of using technology to cheat?
It’s not implausible to think these tweets are true, especially if players like Bauer start weighing in. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich suggested the possibility in a recent article talking about the investigation into the Red Sox and MLB’s slow reaction to evolving technology:
"“The league today also faces a potential issue with wearable technology, and the possibility a hitter could go to the plate with something on his body that could be pinged from a remote location, vibrating to tell him what the next pitch will be. Barring a TSA-style security scan before every hitter goes to the plate, such a system would be almost impossible to stop, except via warnings and the threat of major punishment.”"
The suggestion that Altuve, Bregman, and perhaps others were wearing body buzzers during games raises more questions than it does answers. But it does serve as a reminder that this scandal is far from over. The cat is out of the bag in Houston and possibly around the league.
Whether or not the buzzer accusations are true, don’t be surprised to see more undercover operations rising to the surface.