Astros baseball operations employees and video staffers deployed a “dark arts” system, Codebreaker, created by Houston’s front office to decode opposing catchers’ signs and relay them to Astros hitters in real-time. Then Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow responded to an in-depth email by an intern detailing the covert sign-stealing system with “These are great, thanks.”
Diamond’s piece characterizes Luhnow as excited about the Codebreaking system:
Koch-Weser, the Astros’ director of advance information, said he discussed Codebreaker with Luhnow in one to three meetings after the 2016 season.
Koch-Weser told MLB that Luhnow would “giggle” at the title and appeared “excited” about it. Koch-Weser also said that Luhnow sometimes entered the Astros’ video room during road games and made comments such as, “You guys Codebreaking?”
Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were both fired by the Astros organization on January 13th of this year.
Here are the masthead’s musings on what is undubitably the most eventful news of the offseason.
Charles Sutton: The Astros cheating scandal opens up like a tackle box. There are so many trays of outrageous behavior opening outward that this was clearly pervasive within the entire organization. How can teams trust that the demon is now exorcised and that every last malefactor has been weeded out? Twenty nine teams must forever assume the worst and change signs twelve times a game when facing the Astros.
What a change a few short years brings. People were saddened to see the damage a hurricane can do to the city of Houston, but now what comes to mind with the word Houston? Contempt.
Rev Halofan: The Astros should be given the ultimate punishment: banishment to the National League. Seriously though, the only “take” I have on this disaster is it behooves the players union to allow for stringent player punishments in the next general agreement. The integrity of the game is on the precipice. It is time to act decisively and submit to fair play.
Rahul Setty: I agree with the other responses in this thread: the Astros were too smart for their own good. The punishment in baseball implications is quite light (a pair of first round picks is peanuts for the shenanigans that were pulled), but the Astros may be toppled this year. Assuming the Pederson trade goes through, the Angels have assembled a daunting lineup and a competitive roster, and the A’s have mustered together two straight 95-win campaigns. With a shroud of dark(arts)ness looming above them, it’s not all Juicy Fruit at Minute Maid.
Jeff Joiner: The Astros cheating scandal is a reflection of the “win at all costs” direction sports and society take far too often, especially nowadays. It took a special group of like-minded people to take it to the extremes that they did. Creating a computer program to decipher signs that were illegally stolen in real time took a massive, organization wide effort and the entire franchise should be ridiculed and shamed. I don’t watch sports to find role models for myself or my son. But I certainly don’t want to watch and support people I don’t respect and through nobody’s fault but their own, and the Astros are now on that list. And really, I shouldn’t be surprised. Their acquisition of Roberto Osuna signaled all fans needed to know about the mentality of Jeff Luhnow and his cronies. They wanted to win and didn’t care how unethical they needed to be to do so.
In my mind, the accomplishments of the 2017 Astros will always be in line with David Ortiz’s entire Boston career and given no respect because they were gained unscrupulously. The Astros won and it cost them dearly. It cost them prestige, credibility and respect. And those things, once gone, don’t come back.
Jhmw: The Houston Astros change so much of what we think about in baseball. You can’t trust anything they do anymore. That I felt alright with Altuve winning MVP over Judge because of my hatred of the Yankees feels dirty in hindsight. I’m seriously disappointed in how little the Astros were punished and with every new bit of info we get, it makes the whole situation even worse. I call for a vote of no confidence in Commissioner Manfred’s leadership. This black mark on baseball is equivalent to the Black Sox. While I don’t agree completely with the Dodgers being awarded the  World Series, the sentiment that they were robbed is something I cannot ignore.
The title should have been stripped. The owner should have been forced to sell. Hinch should have been banned for life. None of that happened. And as we see with new info, the front office of the Astros organization is not only morally corrupt in off the field matters, but also directly responsible for the cheating. I hope that other organizations are PR-savvy enough to not hire them in the future but that the owners have to cover for Manfred’s mistake is insane.
The Astros have done the impossible, they have made fans of other teams despise them more than the Yankees. And while I am not quite there yet, it has gotten so bad that I wouldn’t be surprised that I do end up in that same mindset when the season starts.