In February 2020, former Houston Astros star Carlos Correa claimed that teams' trash can tactics thwarted second baseman Jose Altuve's on-field performance can tactics during 2017.
It was the same season when the Astros were found guilty of illegally stealing signs and winning their 2017 championship. As per MLB investigation, the team used technology to decode and relay opposing teams' signs to their batters, providing them with an unfair advantage. The method of relaying the stolen signs involved banging on a trash can, which would serve as a signal to the batter to indicate the type of pitch that was coming.
The scandal became public knowledge in November 2019 when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers revealed the team's sign-stealing practices to The Athletic. The revelation triggered an investigation by MLB, which confirmed the existence of the sign-stealing scheme and levied significant penalties against the Astros organization.
In January 2020, MLB announced its findings and handed down punishments to the Astros, including:
1. One-year suspensions for Astros' manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were subsequently fired by the team.
2. A $5 million fine, which is the maximum allowable under MLB rules.
3. The forfeiture of the team's first- and second-round draft picks in both the 2020 and 2021 MLB drafts.
Carlos Correa's bold statements came after former Los Angeles Dodgers star Cody Bellinger voiced his opinion on the matter, criticizing the Astros' lack of remorse and how their punishments were not severe enough. Additionally, Bellinger also accused Jose Altuve of stealing New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge's 2017 American League Most Valuable Player (ALMVP) title.
Apparently, Judge had an outstanding rookie season and was considered a strong contender for the ALMVP Award in 2017. However, it ultimately went to Altuve. Thus, once the allegations of cheating and unfair play by the Houston Astros during the 2017 season came to light, there were accusations and controversy surrounding the prestigious award.
"Nobody wants to talk about this, but I’m going to talk about this. Jose Altuve was the one guy that didn’t use the trash can," said Carlos in an interview with The Athletic defending Altuve.
"The few times that the trash can was banged without his consent and he would go inside the clubhouse and inside the dugout to whoever was banging the trash can and he would get pissed,” Correa said of Altuve. “He would get mad. He would say, ‘I don’t want this. I can’t hit like this. Don’t you do that to me’. He played the game clean."
While there is no direct evidence linking Jose Altuve to the sign-stealing scheme, the accusations were fueled by a video circulating on social media showing Altuve seemingly telling his Astros teammates not to rip off his jersey.
Jose Altuve's explanation for not taking off his Houston Astros jersey
Houston Astros All-Star Jose Altuve's denial to remove his jersey following his ALCS walk-off home run against the Yankees in 2019 led to widespread speculation.
Altuve, however, later explained that he was shy and didn't want his jersey ripped off.
"The last time they did this I got in trouble with my wife," said Jose during a post-game interview justifying his actions.
Four years have gone by ever since the news of the Houston Astros scandal made the headlines. Nevertheless, the team's integrity gets questioned to date.