The fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal is continuing on, ensnaring managers, players and more in what has become one of the messiest weeks in the sport’s recent history.
Both Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán have lost their jobs in the wake of the scandal, following the Astros’ firing of general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch on Monday.
The shake-ups have come following a Major League Baseball investigation that found the Astros used cameras to steal pitching signs during its 2017 championship season.
The investigation was prompted by a November report in The Athletic, in which former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who now plays for the Oakland Athletics, claimed the club had developed a sign-stealing scheme.
Stealing signs has long been a part of the sport, as certain signals between a catcher and a pitcher indicate what type of pitch the pitcher intends to throw. If the opposing team watches and can interpret what those signs mean, they’ll have an advantage when their batter is at the plate.
Stealing signs isn’t prohibited by the MLB, but is seen as bad etiquette, according to ESPN.
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The problem with the Astros is that they used electronic equipment to do so, something forbidden by the league, according to MLB’s report. The team operated a hidden video camera mounted in center field that team members would then watch from a hidden monitor near their bench.
“One or more players watched the live feed of the center field camera on the monitor, and after decoding the sign, a player would bang a nearby trash can with a bat to communicate the upcoming pitch type to the batter,” the report said.
The report said that the scandal was largely player-driven and that Luhnow and Hinch did not directly participate, with Hinch even taking steps to damage the television the players were using to watch signs.
They were both suspended by the MLB for one year, but Astros owner Jim Crane went a step further and fired the pair.
“Neither one of them started this, but neither one of them did anything about it,” Crane said, according to ESPN. “We need to move forward with a clean slate.”
Though Cora and Beltrán are no longer with the team, both were members of the 2017 team; Cora as a bench coach and Beltrán as a player.
Cora joined the Red Sox as manager one year later, winning a World Series championship with the club in his first year. (The Red Sox are separately being investigated by MLB for stealing signs during their own championship run).
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was waiting to dole out Cora’s punishment until the Red Sox investigation was complete, but promised a “harsh penalty,” according to ESPN.
Though that disciplinary action is still forthcoming, Cora and the Red Sox announced on Tuesday they had mutually agreed to part ways. The retired infielder was named prominently in the MLB report, and was said to be the one who arranged for the monitor to be installed next to the Astros dugout.
Beltrán, meanwhile, was the lone player named in the report, which read: “Approximately two months into the 2017 season, a group of players, including Carlos Beltrán, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter.”
The retired nine-time All-Star was appointed the Mets manager back in November, and though he was not disciplined by the MLB since he was a player during the scandal, his tenure with the Mets was short-lived, as he announced Wednesday he was stepping down from his new post.
“At a meeting this morning with [COO Jeff Wilpon and Executive Vice President and General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen], we mutually agreed to part ways,” he said in a statement. “I’m grateful to them for giving me the opportunity, but we agreed this decision is in the best interest of the team. I couldn’t let myself be a distraction for the team. I wish the entire organization success in the future.”
Meanwhile, it seemed the domino effect of consequences opened the floodgates for more accusations, several of which emerged on Thursday against popular Astros stars José Altuve and Alex Bregman.
Rumors began to swirl Thursday afternoon that the athletes wore buzzers under their uniforms to let them know which type of pitch to expect during the 2019 postseason — something the MLB found no evidence of after an investigation — after claims from an anonymous Twitter account picked up steam.
The person running the account claimed to be Beltrán’s niece, though his family denied any association to ESPN reporter Marly Rivera.
However, the speculation spurred on by the tweets was only heightened after video resurfaced from October, in which Altuve hit a game-winning home run against the New York Yankees during Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
WOWOWOW Here’s Jose Altuve telling his teammates NOT to take off his jersey after the HR off Chapman pic.twitter.com/8PuUIjQylD— Joey Merkel (@Joseph_Merkel) January 16, 2020
In the clip, Altuve appears to signal to his teammates not to rip off his jersey, prompting social media users to wonder whether he had anything to hide.
Altuve denied the accusations in a statement to ESPN via his agent Scott Boras.
“I have never worn an electronic device in my performance as a major league player,” he wrote. A rep for Bregman did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
MLB released a statement as well, saying that during its investigation, it had “explored wearable devices,” but “found no evidence to substantiate it.”
The scandal and subsequent drama has prompted reactions from various baseball stars, including Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger, who tweeted, “For the sake of the game I hope this isn’t true.. if true, there needs to be major consequences to the players. That Completely ruins the integrity of the game!!!”