January 16, 2020

Someone (Possibly A Player) Claiming To Be Carlos Beltrán's Niece Tweets That Jose Altuve And Alex Bregman Wore Buzzers At The Plate; Altuve's Behaviour After Hitting Pennant-Winning Home Run Last October Is Certainly Suspicious

Wil Leitner of Fox Sports Radio calls the latest twist in the Astros' sign-stealing scandal "one of the most bizarre developing stories in baseball history".

His claim may seem a tad overheated - but this scandal is picking up speed. There is no way that Thursday's story is the end of the accusations.
[A] Twitter account alleging to be the niece of Carlos Beltrán is beginning to drop some of the most profound bombshells the MLB has ever seen.

A day after saying her uncle was stepping down as Mets manager a full 24 hours before the news of Beltrán's actual resignation officially broke, the mysterious account is now allegeding that Houston Astros superstars Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman wore 'devices that buzzed' on their shoulders, that were controlled by a hallway video guy who was already deciphering the signs of Houston opponents in real time.

The identity of the account has suddenly come into question, with ESPN's Marly Rivera now saying that that the person who claims to be 'Beltrán's niece' is not related to the Beltráns, with Beltrán's family even telling Rivera that the account @S0_Blessed1 is 'not related to the family in anyway.'

The original headline on Leitner's story - "Carlos Beltrán's Niece Says Jose Altuve & Alex Bregman Wore Buzzers At Bat" - has been changed (though the url still has the original headline in it): "Videos and Images Surface of Astros Possibly Wearing Buzzers in 2019 ALCS".

That Twitter account (now deleted or taken offline) used the initials QT. As far as the accuracy of QT's reporting, it should be noted that QT stated - more than 24 hours before the story broke - that Beltrán was going to resign as manager of the Mets (and supposedly had the news of his hiring several days before it was announced). The account had the name "Gabby" at that time.

In addition to Rivera's report, Gary Sheffield Jr. tweeted that QT is a player: "Carlos Beltrán's niece ain't his niece you hooligans. That's a player."

Jimmy O'Brien (@Jomboy_), who posted numerous videos last November in which banging noises could be heard as the Astros batted at home and matched up the bangs with what type of pitch was thrown, tweeted:
5 different people within baseball, not connected to each other at all, have told me 'the buzzers are very real' with the same details and shit.
Former Cleveland (and current Reds) pitcher Trevor Bauer tweeted that he has "heard this from multiple players too, for what it's worth".

Just after Beltrán resigned, QT tweeted: "I have pictures from locker [sic] I will keep for rainy day. Altuve didn't want shirt torn off if I remember [sic] maybe I misspoke but Chapman gave up HR in game."

Altuve's home run clinched the 2019 American League pennant for Houston. Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees gave up the dong and he looked bemused before walking off the mound. His reaction may be suddenly starting to make more sense.

As Altuve rounded third and jogged toward the plate, he grabbed the top of his jersey and signaled to his teammates, waiting to mob him at the plate, not rip off his jersey. Then, as his teammates celebrate on the field, Altuve heads straight into the Astros' dugout and disappears down the tunnel. Back on the field, he puts on an official "AL Champs" t-shirt over his jersey before being interviewed.

Altuve's explanation to Ken Rosenthal (of Fox and The Athletic) was strange: "I don't know. I'm too shy. Last time they did that, I got in trouble with my wife."

Why in the world would his wife care if his uniform shirt (of which he must have several) was damaged? What if his jersey got champagne on it during the pennant-winning celebration? Would she yell at Jose for that too? Does this woman do the Astros' laundry?

Rosenthal says at one point: "You just told me you were ready for that 2-1 pitch."

James Zeht tweet:
On top of the adrenaline pumping and telling ur teammates not to rip your jersey off, your the first one to go into the clubhouse while everyone else celebrates on the field and puts the shirt on over the jersey?
Starting 9 tweet:
The rest of the organization is celebrating on the field, should I join them? ...No I need to go put a different top on. Immediately.
Yankees announcer Michael Kay claims Altuve had wires under his jersey when he screamed at teammates not to rip his jersey off after hitting the walk-off dong.
"Why was [Jose Altuve] screaming, 'Don't rip off my jersey!'" after the 2019 ALCS, @RealMichaelKay wonders.
Sheffield Jr. replied to Kay: "you’re spot on ... This is something that's been going on for over 2 years now."

Joel Sherman of the New York Post posted a series of tweets this afternoon (and wrote an article):
from MLB with so much coming out publicly about Altuve HR to end ALCS and other incidents: "MLB explored wearable devices during the investigation but found no evidence to substantiate it." That investigation, MLB said, includes 2019.

Reach out to Scott Boras about his client Jose Altuve: "When this came up today, Jose Altuve immediately contacted me and this is his statement: 'I have never worn an electronic device in my performance as a major league player.'" #Astros

I asked Boras about Altuve not wanting to have his shirt ripped off as he came to home plate to end the ALCS and Boras said, "that is the shyness of Jose Altuve." Said his client didn't want the shirt ripped off.

Boras did not want to get into 2017 and the #Astros, but said of Altuve, "He has been transparent and truthful with MLB and their investrigation."

More Boras: "(Altuve) has never been involved in any information with the use of an electornic device that is triggered during the course of the game."

Last from Boras: "Fans need to keep in mind that there are a lot of players who are in the spider web, but they are not the black widow just because they are a member of the team or the league." #Astros #Altuve
Sherman also tweeted a line from MLB's Report on the 2017 Astros: "MLB explored wearable devices during the investigation but found no evidence to substantiate it." MLB said that investigation included 2019.

Presented without comment:

Finally, another QT tweet implied the Yankees are cheating in a similar way: "Just make sure they check Gleyber next year left leg ... Yankees use two video guys hide one in Bullpen with live feed".

The Athletic reported:
As far back as 2015, the Yankees used the video replay room to learn other teams' sign sequences, [according to] multiple sources ...
It was noted that the Astros' sign-stealing idea was brought in by a player from his previous team.

Beltrán played for the Yankees during 2014-16. Was he part of the alleged cheating going on in New York? And was he the new player in Houston (in 2017) who had a plan to cheat in his back pocket?

Brian McCann's years with the Yankees (2014-16) and Astros (2017-18) are almost identical to Beltrán's. (McCann was a self-anointed Judge Of Playing The Game The Right Way (i.e., an asshole), often barking at opposing players after they did things he personally disapproved of, so if he's identified, that will be fun.)

Finally finally, this August 2018 tweet from the Astros' account is a little too much on the nose.


GK said...

It will be very funny if all those increased home runs of the past few years were attributable ,not to juiced balls, but to high tech sign stealing.

Jim said...

Gee, if you were a gambling man and had inside knowledge of this shit, you could make a fortune. Shoeless Joe, 21st Century style. And Manfred (and the Red Sox) cozying up to the casinos...

Unknown said...

Your posting of Astros splits in the 2017 postseason got me thinking: Have you seen anybody attempt to quantify whether the cheating by Houston and Boston was effective? And, beyond that, if it's possible to figure out what teams have been stealing signs in a similar fashon?

It would require a few assumptions. First, that teams technologically steal signs at home but not on the road. Second, that these recently uncovered schemes are relatively new developments, and that we can compare the past few years to older seasons for the teams in question. Third, that sign-stealing in this manner is not the norm; otherwise, the behavior of a few teams wouldn't stand out.

If all those assumptions are true, and if this sort of sign-stealing is effective, it should show up in the numbers. You'd need to compare performance to typical home/road splits and correct for park effects, but after that any successful sign-stealing effort should be apparent. The Astros in 2017 (and the Red Sox in 2018) should have a home performance beyond the normal splits (and beyond the expected range of deviation from them).

If the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox did indeed have superior park-corrected home performance compared to their peers, then we could figure out when each club started stealing signs, and if they stopped. Did the Astros cheat in 2019, based on their home/road splits? When did they start cheating? Ditto the Red Sox.

The really interesting thing, in the context of the claim that everybody is doing this but only two have been caught so far, would be to see if red flags come up on any other teams for recent years.