Astros’ cheating scandal becomes topic of discussion in high school baseball

Pete Crow-Armstrong of Harvard-Westlake said he was disappointed when learning about the Astros' cheating scandal.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

In dugouts, in classrooms and during lunch time, high school baseball coaches and players have been having animated discussions about major league baseball determining that the Houston Astros cheated in 2017 by repeatedly violating rules that banned the use of video equipment to steal signs in a game.

It’s a teachable moment about ethics, right and wrong and how far someone should go to win a game.

It also brings attention to something that has been going on for seemingly as long as baseball has existed -- the fact that stealing signs is part of the game when you use your own eyes.


“What the Astros did is not part of the game,” Birmingham coach Matt Mowry said.

But baseball players and managers always seem to be trying to pick each other’s signs, whether it’s going to be a fastball, curveball, bunt or steal. That’s fair game, according to most coaches. But technology is not allowed to aid in the attempt to gain an edge.

“The brain is also used as a computer to pick pitchers in a normal setting, but the Astros used a video camera and a computer in the dugout. That’s wrong,” JSerra coach Brett Kay said.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, a standout outfielder at Harvard-Westlake and likely first-round draft pick next summer, said the Astros’ players faced a particularly tough ethical dilemma.

“When it’s the people paying you and playing you, they’re probably put in a tough spot,” he said. “I’m happy it didn’t happen to a team I was on.”

Mowry said his players were more upset because many are Dodgers fans, and the Astros defeated the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series when the violations occurred.

“They felt the Dodgers were cheated out of a championship,” he said.

If the Astros were part of high school sports, their championship would almost certainly be vacated.


“The lesson is play the game the right way,” Kay said. “Do things right.”