MINOT, N.D. - The Houston Astros electronically stealing signs and the continuing repercussions have extended into spring training. The scandal continues to rock the baseball world, including fans on the Minot Magicians.
The Astros said in a statement Tuesday the team is "aware of the lawsuit with allegations regarding Orbit's T-shirt launcher. We do not agree with the allegations." (Source: MGN)
"I thought it was pretty crazy that that happened at a Major League [level] and nobody noticed it for so long. It's like totally different bringing technology into it. It's not like it's a game anymore.
They're using anything they can to cheat," said junior outfielder/pitcher Carson Miller.
"It's like kind of bush league. You go 'bang, bang' on a trash can... Maybe you picked up one sign. It's not as obvious to the audience [that they're using] cameras out in center field and stealing signs [that way based on the trash can noise alone]," said senior catcher Dylan Vigested.
Not only did Houston benefit from the electronics, but the ripple effect could have extended to the Astros' opponents.
"You're [going to] get lit up because you're not as good as them, and now they know everything about you... You just blew your first chance [in the Major Leagues because] they went out and stole signs. That's a little messed up," Vigested said.
"There's some pitchers that probably lost their career by moving up in the bigs. They get a chance against a team, they get hit really hard, and if it happened to be because they were receiving signs that's an unfair advantage," said Magicians head coach Pete Stenberg.
The Magi say there could have been a culture in Houston that was tough to break.
"When your veteran of the club is in there leading the pack, it's kind of hard to close things down," Stenberg said.
"The team was kind of just following what their GM says... That's who gives them the bucks, and they're going to do what they say to get more money," Vigested said.
The scandal calls the Astros' postseason success into question, including the 2017 World Series, but Minot's players and coaches don't want Houston's tainted legacy to hang over the game.
"It'd be kind of disappointing to basically waste a whole season just because one team cheated," Vigested said.
"I'm sure they're happy they won the World Series... I would feel disappointed if the Twins did the same thing and took away championships from other people," Miller said.
The Astros' electronic sign-stealing shows how important integrity remains in America's pastime. The scandal cost the Astros' GM and head coach their jobs, though MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he doesn't plan to take away their championship.
The Astros probably can't wait to get back to baseball, and they'll get the chance to on Saturday in spring training against the Nationals.
As for the Magicians, they are scheduled to start their season on March 27 when they host Grand Forks Red River at Corbett Field.