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Cheated
Cover of Cheated
Cheated
The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing
“A baseball book that reads like a spy novel—a story about cheaters and the cheated that has the power to forever change how we feel about the game.” —Brian...
“A baseball book that reads like a spy novel—a story about cheaters and the cheated that has the power to forever change how we feel about the game.” —Brian...
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  • “A baseball book that reads like a spy novel—a story about cheaters and the cheated that has the power to forever change how we feel about the game.” —Brian Williams, MSNBC anchor and host of The 11th Hour
     
    The definitive insider story of one of the biggest cheating scandals to ever rock Major League Baseball, bringing down high-profile coaches and players, and exposing a long-rumored "sign-stealing" dark side of baseball

    The ensuing scandal rivaled that of the 1919 "Black Sox" and the more recent steroid era, and became one of the most significant that the game had ever seen. The fallout ensnared many other teams, either as victims, alleged cheaters or both. The Los Angeles Dodgers felt robbed of a World Series title, and fended off accusations about their organization. Same for the New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox were soon under investigation themselves. The New York Mets lost a promising manager before he ever managed a game.
    Andy Martino, an award-winning journalist who has covered Major League Baseball for more than a decade, has broken numerous stories about the Astros and sign-stealing in baseball. In Cheated, Martino takes readers behind the scenes and into the heart of the events that shocked the baseball world. With inside access to the people directly involved, Martino breaks down not only exactly what happened and when, but reveals the fascinating explanations of why it all came about. The nuance and detail of the scandal reads like a true sports whodunnit. How did otherwise good people like Astros' manager A.J. Hinch, bench coach Alex Cora and veteran leader Carlos Beltran find themselves on the wrong side of clear ethical lines? And did they even know when those lines had been crossed? Cheated is an explosive, electrifying read.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Chapter 1

    How We Got Here

    Were the Astros part of a long tradition of sign stealing? Or were they outliers, worse than anyone else in history?

    The answer is, well, both. What Houston did was the logical extension of more than a century of teams looking for an edge on the fringes of legality. But it was also new and different from anything that came before it.

    It’s important to understand the history.

    The art of sign stealing stretches back at least to the days when Chester A. Arthur was president. It began with eyes, opera glasses, primitive buzzers, and scoundrels who sang in a cappella groups. As the twentieth century progressed, sign stealing claimed victims—most memorably, it rattled the gentle soul of Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca—and expanded to include new tools. By the turn of the millennium, Branca’s son-in-law Bobby Valentine would innovate the use of scouting cameras to decode opponents’ signs. Later, the Astros pushed more advanced experiments with tech beyond the bounds of legality.

    Those characters and teams would all emerge as important points on the continuum. But our story begins with the most notorious sign thief of baseball’s early years, a man clever enough to pull off a scheme remarkably similar to what the Astros would execute a full 117 years later.

    In the winter following the 1899 season, a lifelong reprobate and current Philadelphia Phillies utility man named Pearce Chiles, whose nicknames included “Petey” and “What’s the Use,” spent a day at the racetrack in New Orleans. When Chiles looked through a pair of field glasses to better see the horses, he noticed something else just past the track: a high school baseball game—and a clear view of the catcher’s hands and signs.

    Chiles had an idea.

    This was a man always willing to bend rules, not to mention laws, in the name of personal gain. Born Pearce Nuget Chiles on May 28, 1867, in Deepwater, Missouri, he was a baseball vagabond by his teens, drifting for many years between minor league teams in cities ranging from Topeka to Little Rock, Scranton to Hot Springs. When opposing batters would hit pop-ups, Chiles often mocked them by shouting, “What’s the Use?” before catching them with a flourish. By 1895 newspapers were using that as his nickname.

    During that period, Chiles acquired more than just a memorable sobriquet. He also built a criminal résumé. On July 10, 1895, Chiles’s mother died, and he likely traveled to Missouri for her funeral. The following February, when Chiles was in Phoenix for a winter league, the Los Angeles Times reported that he was “wanted in Missouri for illicit relations with a sixteen-year-old girl [in Deepwater]. As the age of consent in that State is eighteen years, the charge against him is constructive rape.”

    Chiles managed to escape Phoenix before the authorities caught up with him, and he played that summer in Shreveport and Galveston. Over the next few years he continued to get himself into and out of trouble with local law enforcement.

    He also developed a reputation as a savvy baseball man. In 1898 he signed on as player/manager for the Atlantic League’s Lancaster Maroons, and led the team to an 82-50 record. The following year, he received an invitation to the Phillies’ spring training camp in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Chiles was a thirty-three-year-old bench player who had never reached the big leagues. But in Charlotte, he clicked with his new team, which included future Hall of Famers Ed Delahanty, Elmer Flick, and Napoleon...

About the Author-

  • ANDY MARTINO has written about sports, culture and entertainment, and has covered Major League Baseball for more than a decade. A former staff writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Daily News, he is currently a reporter and analyst covering MLB for the SNY network in New York.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 5, 2021
    Journalist Martino draws from more than 100 interviews, primarily with eyewitnesses and participants, to provide a detailed account of the scandal that tainted the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series victory. The extent that the team went to steal signals from their opponents stunned Major League Baseball, and Martino puts the Astros’ schemes in perspective by illuminating the lengthy history of sign stealing, going as far back as 1900. Over the next century, the sport distinguished between tells that players could observe on their own and teams’ use of artificial methods, such as electronic sign stealing through hidden cameras, which were banned. In the late 2010s, the Astros employed both low-tech means, such as banging on garbage can lids, and advanced ones, including cameras that sent real-time signals to players in the batter’s box. The cheating was suspected for a while, but only became public knowledge after a former Astros pitcher leaked the news to a reporter. The ensuing uproar led to an investigation by MLB, which confirmed widespread cheating, resulting in the suspension of the Astros’ manager and general manager. Martino makes the story accessible to casual fans, with enough detail to sate diehard fans of the sport. This account serves as a nice addition to the growing canon of books about sports scandals. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM Partners.

  • Kirkus

    April 15, 2021
    A sportswriter recaps one of the biggest cheating scandals in baseball history. As Martino documents, the cheating began with "the legitimate use of an exciting new toy," the Edgertronic, a high-speed camera that could capture 1,000 frames per second. The Houston Astros intended to use it to record hitters' swings for later study, but bench coach �lex Cora wondered if it could be used for "picking sequences off a monitor" to determine what a pitcher was about to throw during a game. Thus began the scandal in which the Astros used electronic equipment to steal signals throughout their 2017 World Series-winning campaign, as well as other bits of chicanery, such as banging on trash cans to tell their hitters the type of pitch headed their way. In a smart move, Martino begins with a lively roundup of baseball's past scandals, starting with Phillies' third-base coach and "lifelong reprobate" Pearce Chiles, who, in 1900, hatched a plan whereby a player in the center-field stands used opera glasses to pick up the opposing catcher's signs. The author describes the motivations of the principal figures in the Astros scandal, including the "highly studious" Cora; Carlos Beltr�n, who, after 20 seasons, was "starving for a championship; and manager A.J. Hinch, who, "conflict-averse to a fault," disapproved of the shenanigans but didn't stop them. A deeper book would have delved further into the scandal's implications--on the game, on players and unions, on the role of technology and social media--but this one succeeds as a well-written work of straightforward reportage certain to appeal to baseball fans. Along the way, Martino documents countless jaw-dropping examples of moral laxity--e.g., when General Manager Jeff Luhnow, also implicated in the scandal, considered signing a pitcher accused of domestic violence and said to his lieutenants, "I don't want your moral opinion, I want your baseball opinion." An entertaining account of one of baseball's sorriest chapters.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    April 16, 2021

    In late 2019, news broke of a cheating scandal in Major League Baseball. Upon deeper investigation, the magnitude and level of cheating and sign stealing by the Houston Astros shocked even the most ardent of baseball fans. In this debut, sportswriter Martino craftily leads readers through the scandal, with all of its twists and turns. He begins by providing interesting, relevant background information, and then lays out mountains of evidence, obtained through hundreds of documented interviews, and offers clues, all the while explaining their immediate relevance. The book culminates in a comprehensive, fascinating, yet incomplete conclusion, which includes, unfortunately, the victimization of many of the team's unwitting participants, such as Astros hitting coach Alex Cintr�n and former outfielder Carlos Beltr�n. Martino's background is the key to the story's simple flow, which reflects a variety of perspectives, including owners, managers, players, and fans. The writing is engaging and casual throughout, allowing even those who weren't familiar with the scandal to easily follow the reactions of other MLB teams and of the sport itself. VERDICT This disturbing tale will satisfy baseball fans, but will also be of great interest to many other sports followers.--Steve Dixon, State Univ. of New York, Delhi

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    May 15, 2021
    As sports scandals go, the use by the Houston Astros of an outfield camera in their home stadium to steal opposing catchers' signs, and then transmit them to the team's dugout, where players banged out codes on a trash can to alert their hitters to upcoming pitches, was an especially nasty piece of business. For one, they rode their season-long scheme to a World Series title in 2017, which likely impacted the course of several pennant races and the postseason, upended the careers of three managers and those in their front offices, and quite likely damaged the livelihoods of many of the Astros' opponents who were victimized by the cheat. And also, because MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred traded immunity to the guilty players for their testimony, the scandal has left yet another stain on the game that, like known PED use among its top stars, will never be eradicated. While Martino's history of cheating in baseball is almost superfluous to the main story, really, his account of the unfolding, and undoing, of the Astros' plot is well covered and compellingly told.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing
Andy Martino
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