For the better part of the past two years, Trevor Bauer has been one of the Houston Astros' most vocal critics.
But while Bauer was initially critical of the Astros' pitching practices, it was the Cleveland Indians' three-game sweep at the hands of Houston in 2018 American League Division Series that first tipped him off to the sign-stealing scandal that has engulfed baseball for the past few months.
"It was a suffocating feeling because we all knew that they are just so far advanced -- there was just something there," Bauer told Ryan Ruocco and CC Sabathia on UNINTERRUPTED's R2C2 podcast. "That series, they had a dude in our camera well with a phone videoing our dugout with Astros credentials on. And I'm thinking in my head, 'Obviously, that's not right. That's cheating. Like what the hell are we doing here?'"
The incident that Bauer -- who now plays for the Cincinnati Reds -- was referencing involved an Astros team employee who the Boston Red Sox had removed from a credential-only area near the Fenway Park dugout during the ensuing 2018 American League Championship Series. In addition to the Red Sox, the Indians filed a complaint to MLB about an Astros employee who security personnel had removed several times from an area near the photographer's pit during the ALDS.
While an MLB investigation found no wrongdoing by Houston, the incident clearly didn't sit well with Bauer.
"If they're that out in the open with that -- like if they don't care about hiding that, then what do they actually care about hiding?" Bauer said.
It appears Bauer may have found his answer to that question this offseason, when MLB sanctioned the Astros for a sign-stealing scheme in which players allegedly used stadium cameras to steal pitching signs and tip-off batters by banging on a trashcan inside the team's dugout.
But while MLB's investigation only found that Houston used the scheme during its run to the 2017 World Series, Bauer and his baseball brethren remain skeptical it stopped there.
"I was in the bullpen this year," said Sabathia, whose Yankees faced the Astros' in the 2019 ALCS. "Something was going on this year too, man. Like, our TV wouldn't work. There were people in and out of the bullpen all the f---ing time, Astros credentialed people. Scouting reports everywhere -- like this is the ALCS. It was crazy, man."
In addition to the trash can scheme, Bauer has only helped fuel allegations that Houston used electronic buzzers to tip-off signs to their batters. Both the Astros and MLB's investigation have denied that was the case.
But regardless what Houston was doing to break the rules and how long it was doing it for, Bauer has found one silver lining in the scandal that's currently surrounding his sport.
"Having that many players united against one thing or united on that subject -- we have 97 percent of players that are like together on the fact that something was wrong," the 1-time All-Star said. "When's the last time you saw players united on anything like this? I think it's great."