Mike Fiers, whistleblower?
Apparently so. Fiers, the Oakland A's ace last season who recorded a career high 15 wins and threw his second career no-hitter, has come forward to help unmask a systematic attempt on the part of the Houston Astros to steal opponents' signs.
Fiers became aware of the extralegal practice when he pitched for the Astros from 2015-17.
According to The Athletic reporters Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, the system was put into play early in the 2017 season.
Fiers said he came forward because "that's not playing the game the right way," The Athletic reported. "They were advanced and willing to go above and beyond to win. There are (visiting players) who are losing their jobs because they're going in there not knowing."
The Athletic reported that the Astros were aided by a camera set beyond the outfield. The setup, according to the Athletic, took "at least two uniformed Astros." The set-up "required technical video knowledge and required the direct aid of at least some on the baseball operations staff.
There have been suspicions about sign-stealing in Houston. During the ALCS last month, a reporter from SportsNet New York said the Yankees accused the Astros of stealing signs by whistling from their dugout.
Baseball has a long and storied history of stealing signs. Shortstops, second basemen and center fielders have always been able to see the catcher's signs, necessitating pitchers and catchers to periodically change their signs. In 2006 the book "The Echoing Green" reported that in 1951 the then-New York Giants set up sign-stealing apparatus in the Polo Grounds, thereby overcoming a 12 1/2-game deficit against the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in one of baseball's legendary pennant races.
With the advent of audio-visual equipment in ballparks has come the possibility to steal signs electronically.
Per Rosenthal and Drellich: