Report: The Astros Cheating Scheme Was Referred To As "Codebreaker" And "The Dark Arts" And Was Also Used On The Road


Just before AJ Hinch's "exclusive" interview with Tom Verducci aired on MLB Network, the Wall Street Journal published an article that dove into the depths of the Astros cheating scandal. We obviously all know about the buzzers and bangs, but the intricacies of how it all started and certain details that weren't out there are laid out here for us to see. 

On Sept. 22, 2016, an intern in the Houston Astros organization showed general manager Jeff Luhnow a PowerPoint presentation that featured the latest creation by the team’s high-tech front office: an Excel-based application programmed with an algorithm that could decode the opposing catchers’ signs. It was called “Codebreaker.”

The name of this whole scheme was "Codebreaker." It was created by an intern at the time named Derek Vigoa, who is currently the Astros senior manager for Team Ops. How he wasn't suspended or fired is beyond me, but let's continue. 

Up until this point I've yet to give the Astros any sort of credit, but Codebreaker sounds pretty awesome. That's some shit the Pentagon comes up with to steal intel from enemy countries. Other employees had another name for it. 

Another Astros employee referred to the system as the “dark arts.”

The Dark Arts. So now we're talking Harry Potter. Snape, Dumbledore, Remus Lupin. Yeah they were all involved. 

From Manfred's report Luhnow claimed he had no idea that "Codebreaker" was being used during the games. From this article and the Commissioner's report, it's clear the whole idea came from the front office. Who runs the front office? The general manager. What was Luhnow's excuse for not knowing this was going on? He doesn't read emails to their entirety. Yup, that's the best he's got.  

Luhnow told investigators that he did not read the full email because of its length and that if he had, he would have followed up because the reference to “dark arts” sounded “nefarious” and “sinister.”

One was sent by Koch-Weser on May 24, 2017, and was titled “Road Notes (April-May).” The five-page email included six underlined topic headings, with the fifth one called, “The System”—a reference to what Koch-Weser described to investigators as “all kind of covert operations,” including sign-stealing. Luhnow told investigators he didn’t read the full email because of its length, and that he was unfamiliar with the term “the system.” Two people familiar with the matter said it was generally known in the Astros front office that Luhnow expected his staff to put pertinent information in the first page of any email.

You send this guy an email about an elaborate cheating scandal he won't bother reading everything on it. Sure thing pal.

The full description of the cheating scheme is laid out below…

The way Codebreaker worked was simple: Somebody would watch an in-game live feed and log the catcher’s signs into the spreadsheet, as well as the type of pitch that was actually thrown. With that information, Codebreaker determined how the signs corresponded with different pitches. Once decoded, that information would be communicated through intermediaries to a baserunner, who would relay them to the hitter.

Starting around June 2017, the system was embellished by Astros players. They started watching a live game feed on a monitor near the dugout and then would bang on a trash can to communicate the coming pitch to the batter. The “banging scheme” lasted through the 2017 World Series, which the Astros won over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Manfred said Luhnow was unaware of the banging scheme.

Yeah I'm sure Luhnow never wondered what the loud banging sound was throughout the game. Nope, never crossed his mind. Spare me, you piece of shit. 

We have confirmation that this was used during the World Series. We also have confirmation it was used on the road too. That's some new information I think many were wondering about. 

Everything started with Codebreaker, and the use of it to steal signs continued into 2018—not just at home, but also on the road.

Finally, at the end of the 2018 season Tom Koch-Weser, the team’s director of advance information, met with Luhnow to discuss a contract extension. He brought up the "dark arts" and "codebreaking" to highlight his accomplishments. He also noted that he knew the secrets that made them a championship team. Pretty much using his knowledge as a crutch to keep him employed longer. 

” He wrote, in part: “Lastly, I know the secrets that made us a championship team, some of which he[’]d definitely feel a lot safer if they were kept in-house.” 

He pretty much acknowledged that their group of players wasn't good enough to win it all without cheating the way they did. 

Great job by Jared Diamond here uncovering this all for the public to see. The Astros blatantly cheated and did whatever they could to win that title. It'll be asterisked forever and no one will ever take what they did seriously. Sure it says they won the World Series in the record books, but they didn't. They should be all in jail. The commissioner went soft on them and didn't attack players. He should've went after everyone. It's all bullshit. 

It would be a real shame if all these "elite" hitters came back to Earth this year and didn't hit every pitch in sight in 2020. What if they all turned into what Marwin Gonzalez has turned into since he left the team? 

These are Gonzalez's splits from 2017 to 2019. Batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+.