One Astros fan who initially believed the sign-stealing accusations against his favorite team were pure trash has flipped the lid on the Houston cheating scandal.
Tony Adams, a 54-year-old graphic designer and web developer, downloaded videos of 8,274 opposing pitches over 58 games from 2017 and found evidence of a banging sound on nearly 14% of them (1,143).
MLB had determined that the Astros were stealing signs relayed from a video camera in center field to someone banging trash cans from a tunnel outside their dugout to alert teammates of the incoming pitch selection throughout the 2017 World Series championship campaign, ultimately costing manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs.
“It was obvious within 30 seconds that, yeah, they did it. It’s undeniable,” Adams told the Wall Street Journal. “The truth is bad enough in this situation.
“With all the stuff going around, I wanted to say, ‘We know this happened,’ and get back to an empirical fact assessment of the situation instead of the craziness that’s been the last few months.”
The scandal also led to the firings of Boston manager Alex Cora and Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who were with the Astros in 2017 as bench coach and player, respectively.
Adams said he spent the past month reviewing videos he downloaded from MLB Statcast and YouTube, logging every instance in which he heard a banging sound before an opposing pitch to a Houston batter at Minute Maid Park. He released the accumulated data Wednesday on his website SignStealingScandal.com. He estimated it took him approximately 50 hours to complete his research, which was consistent with the findings of MLB, as announced by commissioner Rob Manfred, that the scheme began about two months into that season.
Adams discovered 28 banging noises during Houston’s 8-4 win over Baltimore on May 28, and then noted an average of 30 such instances over the remainder of the season, including 54 bangs in a 16-7 win over Toronto on Aug. 4.
His findings discovered that Marwin Gonzalez faced the most pitches (147) on the team in which banging could be heard, followed by George Springer (139), Beltran (133) and Alex Bregman (133). Second baseman Jose Altuve, who beat out Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge for AL MVP honors that season, only saw 24 pitches in which banging occurred, or 2.8% of 866 of his pitches tracked by Adams.
Adams told the Journal his project also essentially confirmed a Sept. 21 video of White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar appearing to notice the trash-can noises while on the mound, causing the Astros to remove evidence of the video camera near their dugout. In the final two games of that season that were tracked by Adams, he heard banging only on two additional pitches.
“It’s very obvious that they did it,” Adams said. “I wanted to see it for myself.”