Houston Astros

Houston Astros Player

Photo credit: calltothepen.com

What was the accusation?

The Houston Astros won its first World Series in 2017 by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 7-game series. It would take Major League Baseball until January 2020 to release a report confirming the Astros had been using illegal sign-stealing methods from 2017 to 2019. The team had received official complaints from the Oakland A’s in September 2018 and again a month later by the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. The allegations focused on the Astros use of a camera to decode the signs a catcher gives to the pitcher. These signs indicated what type of pitch (fast ball, curve, change-up, etc.) the pitcher should throw to the batter. With the signs, the Astros players in the dugout would make loud noises such as banging on a trash can with a bat, to signal to the Houston batter the type of pitch was coming. Baseball has a long history of trying to gain an advantage similar to what the Astros had done, but with little substantive proof.  However, when a report was released in November 2019, it contained on-the-record quotes from Mike Fiers who had played during their 2017 championship season. This led to a formal Major League Baseball probe and the final conclusion that the Astros had, in fact, cheated. Houston fired General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch after Major League Baseball suspended them and fined the club the maximum allowable penalty of $5 million. Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who were both with the Astros in 2017, were forced to resign after Major League Baseball announced its findings.

Key Apologia Strategies:

 Mortification, Minimization



Houston Astros player Alex Bregman: “I’ve learned from this, and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans.”

CBS Doug Dunbar: “Apologies today we’re quickly then followed by more outrage directed toward the Houston Astros. The Rangers baseball rivals, obviously, publicly addressed the sign stealing scandal that resulted in fines and in firings as Jason Allen reports live in Arlington Forrest this afternoon though this may have also added a little more anger from baseball fans. What in the world is going on?”

Reporter Jason Allen: “Doug, there’s probably nothing that the Astros organization really could have said today to stop the boos, that they’re gonna hear in this stadium, and they’re probably gonna hear in other stadiums across baseball later this spring, but today might have actually served to make some of those boos even louder. The swagger of a Houston Astros team that won hundreds of games and a World Series, was replaced Thursday by a team forced to say they were sorry.”

Houston Astros player Alex Bregman: “I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team.”

Houston Astros Team owner Jim Crane: “You know our opinion is you know that this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. Um, we won the World Series, and we’ll leave it at that.”

Reporter Jason Allen: The reaction was instant with players like the Rangers Willie Calhoun posting ‘let us know what pitches are coming and let’s just see how much it doesn’t impact the game’ and former player Michael Young writing ‘just apologized, be accountable and move forward’.”

Business Culture Analyst Mark Fenner: “This is how things happen in cultures that get out of hand, this is how bad things happen to good people.”

Reporter Jason Allen: “Business culture expert Mark Fenner called the attempt at an apology for a complex sign stealing system ‘a total failure’. Rather than helping fans forgive and forget it, it put the ordeal right back at the top of trending topics on social media in North Texas for most of the day and without authenticity followed by actions.”

Houston Astros Team owner Jim Crane: “very remorseful, very sorry”

Reporter Jason Allen: “Fenner, said ‘it won’t go away’.”

Business Culture Analyst Mark Fenner: “…and if it’s not heartfelt it doesn’t work and when you’re reading a script it’s not heartfelt. Add to that the fact that was probably written by lawyers or PR specialists it just comes across as inauthentic.”

Reporter Jason Allen: “The Astros and the Rangers they don’t do spring training of course in the same place so the first time that they see each other again is going to be right here the second weekend in April lot tonight in Arlington Jason Allen CBS 11.”


Bernstein, D. (2020, July 24). Astros cheating scandal timeline, from the first sign-stealing allegations to a controversial punishment. Retrieved from Sporting News: https://www.sportingnews.com/us/mlb/news/astros-scandal-timeline-sign-stealing-punishment/zbe6j4yoi1g21ia0say31zv3n

CBS. (2020, February 13). Houston Astros Cheating Scandal Apology. Dallas Fort Worth, Texas.

ESPN. (2020, February 13). Everything you need to know about MLB’s sign-stealing scandal. Retrieved from ESPN: https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28476282/everything-need-know-mlb-sign-stealing-scandal

Lacques, G. (2020, February 13). Houston Astros admit that stealing signs really worked: ‘It was definitely an advantage’. Retrieved from USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/columnist/gabe-lacques/2020/02/13/astros-cheating-scandal-sign-stealing/4749283002/

Venook, J. (2020, January 19). The Astros’ Cheating Scandal Rewrites a Decade of Baseball History. Retrieved from The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/01/the-astros-scandal-rewrites-a-decade-of-mlb-history/605185/