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Former MLB Pitcher Alleges Houston Astros Sign-Stealing Scheme Destroyed His Career

Mike Bolsinger. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Mike Bolsinger. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

A former Major League Baseball player said this week that the Houston Astros sign-stealing scheme ruined his career.

Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger filed a lawsuit against the Astros claiming the team stole his signs during the 2017 season. Astros players used a video feed to see the signs opposing catchers’ gave to the pitchers — including Bolsinger.

An Astros player would then bang on a trash can in the dugout to let the batter know what pitch was coming. The elaborate scandal cost Astros manager A.J. Hinch his job, along with the Boston Red Sox’s manager Alex Cora, who was Hinch’s bench coach at the time.

“The message can’t be sent that a simple slap on the wrist and you can get away with this kind of behavior in baseball and other walks of life. So that’s why we brought this lawsuit,” Bolsinger’s lawyer, Ben Meiselas, says.

Astros players used a video feed to see the signs the catcher gave Bolsinger. An Astros player would then bang on a trash can in the dugout to let the batter know what pitch was coming.

“The data has showed us that the Astros essentially knew every single pitch that he was going to be throwing,” Meiselas says.

Though Astros owner Jim Crane has apologized for the scheme, no members of the team have apologized specifically to Bolsinger. According to ESPN, Crane says, “Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”

In response to Crane’s press conference, Meiselas says, “I don’t think the press conference was enough because in the same breath, he said that, you know, the cheating didn’t impact the games and that they won on their own merit, which is completely and absolutely ridiculous.”

Despite Bolsinger’s already declining career statistics, Meiselas says the impact of the cheating scandal was detrimental to Bolsinger’s life and career. Bolsinger was terminated at the end of that game, and hasn’t played in the major leagues since. Bolsinger pitched for Japan’s Chiba Lotte Marines the past two seasons but is currently a free agent.

“For Mike Bolsinger, the ability to succeed or fail on his own was stripped for him because of this cheating,” Meiselas says. “And [the Astros] took that right from him.”

Bolsinger is suing for personal damages and requesting that the Astros donate their $31 million postseason bonuses to charity, he says.

Mieselas also argues that the scandal has damaged the integrity of the sport.

“It’s, in many ways, cheating the fans as it is a financial fraud, in a sense,” he says. “I mean, at the end of that season, in addition to postseason bonuses, the annualized percentage increase in the valuation of the Astros increased 18%, which is roughly $300 million.”

Here & Now reached out to the Astros for comment, but has not received a response at the time of publication.

Marcelle Hutchins produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd Mundt. Katherine Simpson adapted it for the web. 

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.