The news cycle this past Sunday was dominated by the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant and all the other passengers in the helicopter accident, including his 13 year old daughter. Also on board were lifetime Baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife and daughter. I send my deepest condolences to all who died and who have been impacted by this horrible tragedy.
However, prior to the terrible accident being reported Sunday, the story that sparked my interest took place Saturday night at the New York Baseball Writers dinner where Justin Verlander accepted the 2019 American League Cy Young Award.
Apparently, while delivering his acceptance speech Verlander complemented the Astros for being “Technologically and analytically advanced.”
While Verlander was giving his speech, CC Sabathia was just a couple of seats away, and according to those at the event, looked extremely angry. In addition, Dodgers star outfielder and first baseman Cody Bellinger was also just a few feet away.
Unless Verlander has been living under a rock the last week or so, he would have known that Sabathia just gave a highly publicized and lengthy expletive filled statement on his Podcast with Ryan Ruocco that left nothing to the imagination. CC is angry. He feels that he and his 2017 Yankee teammates were robbed at a chance to play in the World Series by the Astros cheating scandal. Sabathia essentially let everyone know that he has a serious problem with the Astros players and the organization.
Dodgers players, including Cody Bellinger, have also been very vocal about their displeasure and frustration in this scandal, as they lost to the 2017 Astros in the World Series, and then lost to the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series – two teams under investigation for cheating. Bellinger tweeted “For the sake of the game I hope this isn’t true. If true, there needs to be major consequences to the players. That completely ruins the integrity of the game!!! ”
Well, we know it is true. The 2017 and 2018 Astros have been caught cheating, and as I re-counted last week, the management level punishments have been handed down and people lost their jobs. The players? Not so much as a slap on the wrist.
It should be noted that the 2018 Red Sox are currently under investigation, and that no decision has been made to date on whether or not they engaged in any cheating or sign stealing tactics involving technology.
What strikes me the most about the comment Verlander made is the outright arrogance he and his teammates have exhibited regarding this scandal since they were caught.
Maybe Verlander just misfired at a weak attempt at humor?
If it was a joke, it was an extremely inopportune time to do so, as very few players in the game think the Astros cheating scheme is very humorous. This is particularly true given the fact that in spite of having numerous opportunities to do so, the current Astros players have not shown an iota of accountability for their deceit. None. At all.
Thus far only Dallas Keuchel, a member of the both the 2017 and 2018 Astros, is the lone player from that franchise to apologize for the cheating scheme. Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman offered week deflections when they were asked about the cheating the prior weekend at an Astros event.
By the way, in my humble opinion, the Keuchel “apology” was formulated with a lot of weak excuses about how it was “just something that was done at the time” and how “technology was to blame”. Keuchel also attempted to play it down by saying that the Astros “didn’t do it all the time”.
To me that is insulting our intelligence, as one of the most notorious video confirmations of their garbage can banging cheating plot came during a lopsided Astros win in an insignificant August 2017 game against a second division team. If the Astros were cheating in that game, wouldn’t it make sense that they were doing it in meaningful games? Of course it does.
That type of comment and behavior is indicative of the overall arrogance and condescension of the Astros players, since contrary to Bellinger’s wishes, none of them will ever have to pay a price, while many others have suffered at their hands.
Verlander has a history of speaking out regarding cheating, but only when it negatively impacts him.
In June 2017, while still a Detroit Tiger, in an interview with MLive.com he was quoted as saying “We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound. It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”
So in June of 2017 he felt that way, he was against electronic cheating, but by August when he was traded to the Astros and he now enjoyed the benefits of cheating, he seemed to have a completely different perspective on it. Remember, he said nothing.
Now that the whole scandal is exposed, all Verlander can muster up is a bad joke, a very bad joke, if it was a joke as he happily accept an award.
The Astros players exhibit this type of behavior because they have been given immunity in exchange for their sealed testimony to the MLB investigators. They got off scot free and left a trail of damage and disgrace in their wake as they act like the whole thing is a big joke.
MLB’s gamble that we will all just forget about this when the 2020 season starts to unfold, may not have good odds in Las Vegas, especially when more and more players start to voice their frustrations.
Recently the Kansas City Royals star Whit Merrifield was discussing how he should have made the 2018 All Star team and won the silver slugger award over Jose Altuve stating “I’m going to consider myself an All-Star with all this stuff that’s come out, Astros cheating kept me from being an All Star”…”We’ll put an asterisk by 2018. And on top of it, we’ll go ahead and throw in a silver slugger for good measure.”
More and more players are starting to come out and criticize the Astros, and rightfully so. It will be interesting to see how the Astros hitters are pitched to this coming season. Baseball has always had a way of policing itself.
I am not going to hold my breath waiting, but the Astros players, need to show remorse and genuine accountability or this scandal will not go away.