Astros cheating scandal: MLB players weigh in on sign stealing

The impact of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal is reverberating throughout Major League Baseball. There has been immediate impact — three managers lost their jobs in a week, along with the Astros’ general manager. And through all of the revelations, both the Astros themselves and players throughout the game have had something to say about the Astros’ conspiracy to steal signs electronically and relay that information in real time to their players at the plate in 2017.

Never forget

“I’m not going to let them forget the fact that they are hypocrites, they are cheaters, they’ve stolen from a lot of other people and the game itself.” — Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer

“One of the worst things that could happen is that we get through spring and it’s just forgotten about, or that you get pegged for the first two games and it’s just forgotten about. It needs to be reiterated.” — Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling

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“It’s just like ripping open a scab. It rehashes some things, and you go back, think what if, what happened. And that’s just going to drive us crazy if we continue to do that.” — Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers infielder, on the revelations about the Astros’ methods.

“It’s a fair question. I think everyone is going to have to draw their own conclusions. I hope over time, and the demonstration of the talent of this team and the players and the careers that are being had — we have some of the best players in the entire sport all together on the same team — I hope over time, it’s proven that it wasn’t.” — Former Astros manager AJ Hinch, on whether the Astros’ 2017 title is tainted by initial revelations about their sign stealing.

“When you analyze the games, we won fair and square. We earned that championship.” — Astros shortstop Carlos Correa

Blowing the whistle

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“I’m glad we’re at this point right now, and obviously Mike [Fiers] had a lot to do with that. … It’s supposed to be an equal playing field, and it wasn’t.” — Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin

“I think that leaving Houston and going to a different team, I think you have to at least say, ‘Hey, they do some things, you might have to switch your signs up or you might need to do something,’ For [Mike] Fiers, it’s a tough situation to be in because you have teammates in Houston, but you also have new teammates. It’s a sticky situation.” — Tony Kemp, former Astro and new Athletic

The Astros apologize, sort of

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“While the evidence consistently showed I didn’t endorse or participate in the sign-stealing practices, I failed to stop them and I am deeply sorry.” — Hinch, immediately after his suspension and firing in January.

“No one put a gun to our head. It would be a lie to say that one or two people are responsible. We are all responsible.” — Astros infielder Yuli Gurriel

“We are ALL responsible. Carlos [Beltran] and Alex [Cora] were great to us.” — Astros outfielder George Springer, on stories suggesting the veteran DH and coach were responsible for the sign-stealing initiative.

“No one put us up to this. We did it. All of us, not one person made us do anything.” — Astros infielder Alex Bregman

“He would say, ‘I don’t want this. I can’t hit like this. Don’t you do that to me.’ [Jose Altuve] played the game clean.” — Correa on his teammate.

“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game.” — Jim Crane, Astros owner

“It was definitely an advantage.” — Correa

“No, I don’t think I should be held accountable.” — Crane

Apology not accepted

“I thought the apologies were whatever. I thought [Astros owner] Jim Crane’s was weak. I thought Manfred’s punishment was weak, giving ’em immunity. I mean, these guys were cheating for three years. I think what people don’t realize is [Jose] Altuve stole an MVP from [Aaron] Judge in ’17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us.” — Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger

“There’s no sincerity. There’s no genuineness when it comes to it. I know that if I messed up big in that way, I’d be the first one to let you know just how big of a mess-up it was. It’s hard to believe. It really is. It’s sad.” — Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, on the Astros’ belated attempt to apologize.

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“They mocked everything about everyone who said they were doing something under the table or illegal or whatever. Cheating is one thing — it’s not OK — but at least if you cheat and you come out and you get caught and you’re like, ‘Look, I did this and it wasn’t right. This is why I did it. I’m not going to do it again, I learned my lesson.’ … Whatever, you can be contrite about it, speak honestly about it, but even now, we don’t even have a freakin’ apology that means anything from any of them.” — Bauer

“That’s just wild. I don’t know if he meant to say that or not, but that’s obviously not true.” — Bellinger, in response to Crane saying the Astros’ sign stealing “didn’t impact the game.”

“I’m pretty sure it was going in in 2018 and 2019, too. If they didn’t get caught, they’d still be doing it. And they’re only doing this apology because they got caught. Everyone around the league is upset and rightfully so, because it’s really a disgrace to the game.” — Bryant

Were the Astros also cheating in 2018? 2019?

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“I don’t know what human hits a walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman to send your team to the World Series and one, has the the thought to say ‘don’t rip my jersey off,’ but two, go in the tunnel, change your shirt, and then go out and do your interview. Like that — that makes no sense to me.” — Bellinger, on Jose Altuve’s reaction and actions after hitting the game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 2019 American League Championship Series.

“Altuve has played the game clean. Always. Always. He earned that MVP. He hit that home run off Chapman, fair and square.” — Correa

“We got investigated for three months. The commissioner’s office did as thorough of an investigation as anyone could imagine was possible.” Hinch, on being asked a yes-or-no question about whether the team was using buzzers or other signals in the 2019 postseason.

“When he (Bellinger) talks about that we cheated for three years, he either doesn’t know how to read, is really bad at reading comprehension or is just not informed at all. The commissioner’s report clearly says that all those activities were conducted in 2017. 2018 nothing happened. 2019 nothing happened. It was just talented players, playing the game of baseball with passion and winning ballgames.” — Correa

Retaliation?

“I think players will deal with it the way it should be across the league. I don’t think it’s going to be a comfortable few ABs for a lot of those boys, and it shouldn’t be. They shouldn’t be comfortable.” — Pitcher Mike Clevinger, Cleveland Indians

“Somebody will take it into their own hands, and they’ll get suspended more games than any of those guys got for the biggest cheating scandal in 100 years. It’ll be pretty ironic when that happens, because I’m sure that’s how it’ll end up playing out.” — Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood — who started Game 5 of the 2017 World Series against them, on pitchers retaliating against the Astros by throwing at them.

“I’m depending on the league to try to put a stop to this seemingly premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about. … I’m just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.” — New Astros manager Dusty Baker

“The game has changed. I think the commissioner has made it very clear in the past few seasons that throwing a baseball at somebody isn’t an appropriate form of retaliation in the game anymore. The problem is knowing if it’s on purpose or not. But I guess when you come out and say I’m going to do it on purpose, you know.” — Justin Verlander, Astros pitcher

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