Oakland A’s pitcher Mike Fiers set off a firestorm this offseason when he talked to members of the media about the Astros, one of his former teams, using technology to illegally steal signs during the 2017 season — when they won the World Series. The ensuing MLB investigation led to severe penalties for the Astros, including a one-year suspension for GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch. But Astros owner Jim Crane went a step further and dismissed both men from the team. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t punish any players. Some of the Astros’ players have spoken about the cheating scandal before MLB’s announcement of the team’s penalties. Here’s how Carlos Correa reacted to the scandal.
How Carlos Correa and his Astros teammates cheated
According to Fiers, the team used a center field camera to steal opponents’ signs. Team personnel watched a live feed on a monitor near the dugout to relay pitches to the players in real time. Players in the dugout then communicated the sign to the hitter, allegedly by hitting garbage cans depending on what pitch type was coming up next.
The Astros reportedly instituted the system in 2017, though MLB’s investigation included 2017 and subsequent seasons. Sign stealing has always been part of the game and quietly acceptable when it’s done naturally, but using technology to get the other team’s signs is considered crossing the line and when it becomes illegal. When MLB released the findings of its investigation, it was said that then-Astros bench coach Alex Cora was one of the people who masterminded the sign-stealing system. Cora became the Red Sox manager in 2018, but he has also been fired in anticipation of MLB handing down a harsh penalty on him once the league finishes its investigation into similar cheating allegations against the Red Sox.
Who is Mike Fiers, and what did he say?
Pitcher Mike Fiers was the whistleblower in the scandal. He spoke to The Athletic writers Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, who were the reporters who broke the story with the details of the Astros’ cheating scandal.
Fiers spent the first four-plus years of his career with the Brewers before they traded him to the Astros during the 2015 season. He played for Houston through 2017. The following offseason, Fiers signed with the Tigers before being traded to the A’s in August 2018.
Some people speculate that the reason he blew the whistle on the Astros is because he’s upset the team didn’t use him at all in the postseason during the 2017 World Series run. He has a 69-59 record in his career, with a 4.02 ERA in 205 appearances — 186 starts — and 953 strikeouts in 1,082.2 innings.
Carlos Correa’s reaction to the cheating scandal
Different players have different thoughts on the scandal and Fiers’ role in revealing details of the cheating. Carlos Correa discussed the situation during an appearance at an autograph show. He said he doesn’t think the scandal should lead to the Astros’ championship being vacated — which MLB didn’t do as part of its punishment — and he also shared his thoughts on Fiers.
Correa said Fiers “is a grown man” who “can do whatever he wants to do. It’s a free country.” Correa said, knowing Fiers, it was surprising that he went to the media about the sign-stealing because the Astros “were a team … all together … and [they] had a bond” as they won the World Series — the first in franchise history. Despite Carlos Correa’s surprise — and, likely, disappointment — he acknowledges that “this is America, the land of the free. You can say what you want to say.” Correa also described the team as “good players playing good baseball.”
Carlos Correa’s response to Fiers’ comments came before MLB handed out its punishment. Whether or not he still feels the same way is uncertain, but he and his teammates are still considered World Series champions.