A’s fans had to wait a year to shower boos on Astros players for the team’s sign-stealing in 2017 and 2018. They seized on the opportunity on Opening Day 2021.
The Oakland faithful unloaded on Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa on Thursday at the Coliseum.
The gathering also chanted “Cheaters” during the national anthem and brought signs calling the Astros the same. They delighted in A’s starter Chris Bassitt hitting Correa in the left shoulder with a 94 mph fastball in the fourth inning.
Altuve, Bregman, Correa and Yuli Gurriel are the lone position-player holdovers from the 2017 Astros team that won the World Series over the Dodgers in seven games. In late 2019, former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers (who’s now with the A’s) blew the whistle on Houston’s activities during that championship season. The team filmed catchers’ signs with a camera in center field that was connected to a monitor mounted behind the Houston dugout. Once the Astros knew what pitch was coming, someone would bang on a trash can to tip off hitters.
MLB began investigating after Fiers went public. No players were suspended because commissioner Rob Manfred granted them immunity in exchange for their full cooperation. Then-Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Red Sox manager Alex Cora — Hinch’s bench coach in 2017 — were suspended for the 2020 season for their roles in the scandal. They were also fired by their respective clubs. The Astros fired then-general manager Jeff Luhnow as well. Carlos Beltran, who played on the ’17 Astros and was fingered as the operation’s ringleader, was dismissed as Mets manager.
Last offseason, the Red Sox rehired Cora and the Tigers hired Hinch to be their new manager.
Altuve has denied taking part in sign-stealing. A defiant Correa backed Altuve’s claims during spring training in 2020. Altuve also denied wearing a buzzer underneath his uniform jersey in the 2019 ALCS against the Yankees. That controversy erupted after Correa hit a walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 to send Houston to the World Series and the diminutive star motioned that he did not want his jersey ripped off in the celebration. Houston would go on to lose to the Nationals in seven.