Sports | October 21, 2021 1:34 pm

Even If the Astros Are Whistling to Tip Pitches, Is That Really Cheating?

A whistle could clearly be heard just before Houston's Yordan Álvarez hit a solo home run off Boston ace Chris Sale

Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros hits a home run against the Boston Red Sox
Yordan Álvarez of the Houston Astros hits a home run against the Boston Red Sox.
Elsa/Getty

Amidst the usual crowd noise in the top of the second inning at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, a whistle could clearly be heard just before Houston’s Yordan Álvarez hit a solo home run off Boston ace Chris Sale to give the Astros a 1-0 lead in a game they would go on to win 9-1 a day after winning 9-2.

Given that the Astros were busted and disciplined for stealing signs in 2017 on their way to winning the World Series and also accused of using whistles to convey stolen signs during the 2019 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, many people immediately started accusing Houston of cheating, again.

After the allegations started to gain some traction from the Álvarez video, internet sleuths observed a whistling sound could also be heard just before José Altuve hit a solo home run to tie the game in the top of the eighth inning in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

Adding some fuel to the fire are images of Houston manager Dusty Baker apparently wearing some sort of “smart” device on his wrist, a violation of MLB rules and one the Red Sox were previously busted for in 2017 when members of the team used Apple Watches to illicitly steal hand signals from catchers on the Yankees and other teams.

Given all of that information and factoring in what Houston has done in the past, it seems fairly reasonable to conclude that Houston is probably pushing the limits of the MLB rulebook, which is just part of the game.

Even if the Astros are looking to steal signs and then communicating their best guesses about what sort of pitch is coming by whistling to the batter at the plate, that’s not really cheating. It’s just trying to gain a competitive advantage, something every single team in professional sports should be attempting to do. If the Red Sox don’t like it, they should conceal their signs better, start whistling from their dugout to create confusion or come up with some other solution to help fix the problem, if it even exists.

For what it’s worth, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he didn’t know anything about the whistling when asked and complimented the way the Astros are playing. Of course, Cora was a member of the Astros when they were stealing signs and banging trash cans on their way to winning the World Series in 2017 so he wouldn’t say anything publicly about another team, especially Houston, cheating even if it was blatantly obvious.

Even if Cora was in a position to say something, he’d probably keep his mouth shut because he knows that if his team can’t score more than three runs over the course of two games they aren’t going to win anything with or without the Astros using whistles, watches or whatever else.

Game 6 is tomorrow night in Houston with the Astros now leading the series 3-2 after trailing 2-1. If they’re going to win, the Red Sox have their work cut out for them — and maybe they should be whistling past the graveyard.