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The Houston Astros sign stealing scandal resulted from a series of rule violations by members of the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball who usedThe Houston Astros sign stealing scandal resulted from a series of rule violations by members of the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball who used technology to steal signs of opposing teams during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. For years, some individuals on other teams had suspected the Astros of stealing signs, but there was no public reporting on the subject until November 2019, when reporters Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic published an article detailing the team's activities. Mike Fiers, a pitcher who played for the Astros in 2017, told The Athletic that the organization used a video camera in the center field seats to film the opposing catcher's signals to the pitcher regarding the next pitch. Astros players or team staffers watching the live camera feed behind the dugout used various audio cues, such as banging on a trash can, to signal to the batter what type of pitch was coming next. MLB investigated the allegations and confirmed in January 2020 that the Astros illegally used a camera system to steal signs during the 2017 regular season and postseason, during which they won the World Series, as well as in part of the 2018 season. MLB found no evidence of illicit sign stealing in the 2019 season, in which the Astros advanced to the World Series, but lost in seven games to the Washington Nationals. As a result, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and field manager A. J. Hinch were suspended for the entire 2020 season for failing to prevent the rule violations. The Astros were fined the maximum allowable $5 million and forfeited their first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts. No players were punished because they had been given immunity by MLB in exchange for their cooperation. The Astros subsequently fired both Luhnow and Hinch on the day their suspensions were announced. MLB's investigation also determined that Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora helped mastermind the Astros' sign stealing while serving as Hinch's bench coach in 2017. The Red Sox and Cora mutually parted ways the following day and MLB suspended him through the 2020 postseason, although the Red Sox rehired Cora after his suspension ended. Carlos Beltrán was the only Astros player from 2017 who was specifically named in the report; he had been hired to manage the New York Mets in November 2019 but parted ways with the team after the results of MLB's investigation were announced. The sanctions against the Astros were the most severe that MLB has ever issued against a member club, and are among the most severe sanctions for in-game misconduct in baseball history. A Wall Street Journal article published a few weeks after the MLB report described previously unknown details about the sign stealing operation and reported that it originated during the 2016 season, a broader scope than reported by MLB. After the scandal broke, players on the 2017 Astros apologized to varying degrees. The team's actions were heavily criticized by players on other MLB teams. The scandal dominated the 2019–2020 offseason and the start of 2020 spring training. The scandal also led to lawsuits against the Astros and MLB.
The Washington Nationals are an American professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) asThe Washington Nationals are an American professional baseball team based in Washington, D.C. The Nationals compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. From 2005 to 2007, the team played in RFK Stadium while a new stadium was being built. In 2008, they moved in to Nationals Park, located on South Capitol Street in the Southeast quadrant of D.C., near the Anacostia River.The Nationals are the eighth major league franchise to be based in Washington, D.C., and the first since 1971. The current franchise was founded in 1969 as the Montreal Expos as part of a four-team expansion. After a failed contraction plan, the Expos were purchased by MLB, which sought to relocate the team to a new city. Washington, D.C. was chosen in 2004, and the Nationals were established in 2005 as the first MLB franchise relocation since the third Washington Senators moved to Texas in 1971. While the team initially struggled after moving to Washington, the Nationals had considerable success throughout the 2010s. The team had two back-to-back first overall picks in the MLB draft in 2009 and 2010, where they drafted Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. The team secured their first playoff berth and first division title in 2012. They won the National League East again in 2014, 2016, and 2017, but failed to advance past the NLDS each time. In 2019, the team advanced to the World Series and defeated the Houston Astros in seven games to earn their first championship. As of 2021, the franchise's overall win–loss record is 4,068–4,280 (.487). Since moving to Washington, D.C., their overall win–loss record is 1,313–1,337 (.495)