The Washington Nationals are reveling in the fact that they managed to beat the Houston Astros in the 2019 World Series, and they’re having some fun with it on social media.
The Nationals sent a Valentine’s Day note to the New York Yankees, the team that lost the 2017 ALCS to the sign-stealing Astros team, in a bid to make them feel a little bit better about things.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 14, 2020
It’s a cute message, but don’t expect the Yankees to feel better. The rest of baseball won’t either. There’s a huge degree of animosity toward the Astros, which probably only makes the Nationals feel more proud that they managed to overcome Houston and win the World Series in 2019.
Carlos Beltran has been painted as one of the masterminds behind the elaborate cheating scheme that was in place with the Houston Astros during the 2017 season, and many have wondered if he taught some of his methods to the New York Yankees last year. According to Brian Cashman, the Yankees had no involvement in anything like that.
Cashman had high praise for Beltran when speaking with reporters on Friday, calling the former Yankees special advisor a “good person” and a “gentle giant.” When asked about the rumblings that Beltran must have shared his sign-stealing tactics with the Yankees, Cashman said his team “did things right.”
“Well Carlos Beltran was a part of our organization last year and didn’t have any influence … we did things right,” the Yankees GM said, via SNY’s Coby Green. “We asked so many people, Carlos included, because there’s been a lot of suspicion on the Houston Astros and what happened in ’17, and anybody that’s been a part of that and they kind of avoided answering the questions.”
While he stopped short of calling Beltran innocent, Cashman said he has a hard time believing the report about Beltran having “steamrolled” Astros players who did not want to adhere to his illegal system.
“I’m not saying he didn’t do anything wrong,” Cashman admitted. “Obviously the commissioner’s report speaks for itself, but in terms of forcing people to do this that or another thing, I’m having a hard time buying that, because that’s not the person that I knew as a player and not the person that I knew as our special advisor.”
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa enthusiastically defended Beltran this week against talk that Beltran pressured other players to hop aboard his cheating train, so it’s possible that report was exaggerated a bit.
As for the Yankees, many will find it hard to believe that Beltran went from being the mastermind of an elaborate cheating scheme to doing everything by the book in New York. The way Alex Cora spoke about Beltran during a press conference after the Boston Red Sox faced the Yankees last year has also led to some suspicions. Beltran and anyone associated with the 2017 Astros have lost the benefit of the doubt.
A sportsbook is taking advantage of the Houston Astros cheating scandal to get some good PR and build some loyalty with bettors.
PointsBet Sportsbook announced Friday that it would be refunding all AL and World Series futures bets placed on the New York Yankees as part of a “good karma refund” following the Yankees falling to the Astros in the 2019 ALCS.
KARMA KOMMITTEE ALERT
The Astros cheated. The Yankees lost. PointsBet is refunding ALL Yankees AL Futures and World Series Futures Bets in full!
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) January 17, 2020
PointsBet only operates in Iowa and New Jersey, and MLB’s investigation found that the Astros did not violate MLB rules on technology and sign stealing in 2019. Ultimately, that doesn’t really matter, because this is a great way for this company to get some free PR. Plus, regardless of whether it happened in 2019 or not, the Yankees definitely feel robbed, so this is a gesture of good will.
Some seemingly innocuous remarks Alex Cora made to the media last season following a sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees have been examined closely in the wake of MLB’s sign stealing scandal, and many view them as more bad news for Carlos Beltran.
Beltran, who is close friends with Cora and played for the Houston Astros when Cora was a bench coach with the team, was hired by the Yankees as a special adviser prior to last season. After the Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox in the London Series in June, Cora quipped that New York’s biggest free agent acquisition last year was Beltran and said Beltran had helped the Yankees with their attention to detail. To counter that, Cora said the Red Sox have to “clean our details.”
Here’s video of the Alex Cora soundbite we just played on @WFANmornings. This was following the Yankees’ sweep of Boston in the 2019 London Series. Check out the wink after he brings up Carlos Beltran’s name around :27 and unprovoked usage of the word “devices.” (h/t @Pacmangrig) pic.twitter.com/HgkglIoB7O
— Chris Lopresti (@CLoprestiWFAN) January 15, 2020
“It was eye-opening the last few days from top to bottom,” Cora said of the series. “And I’m not saying devices and all that stuff — it’s just stuff that the game will dictate and will scream at people, and (Beltran is) right there. Throughout the evening I was looking and I saw it, and right now they’re a lot better than us.”
Now that we know Cora and Beltran were at the center of the sign stealing scheme that was implemented in Houston during the 2017 season, there’s a belief that Cora was referring to sign stealing tactics when he made those remarks about Beltran. He stopped short of accusing Beltran of any wrongdoing, which would have been incredibly hypocritical. However, Cora seemed to be dancing around the subject for whatever reason, and it’s unclear what he meant by “devices.”
The Red Sox are being investigated for illegally using the video replay room to help steal signs during the 2018 season. The report from The Athletic that led to the investigation said the Yankees and other teams did the same dating back to 2015, though that was before MLB issued a memo emphasizing its rules on using electronics to help steal signs. The Athletic report also said the Astros believed the Yankees were using a YES Network camera in center field in 2018 to zoom in on the catcher’s signs, but MLB had reportedly approved the use of the camera as a coaching tool. The Astros did not push the matter at the time, but they brought it back to MLB’s attention when they were being investigating for sign stealing.
MLB is aware of the video of Cora’s comments about Beltran, but there are no plans to investigate the Yankees at this time.
Regarding video of Cora talking about Beltran helping Yankees in '19.
MLB sources reaffirm this AM they're not investigating NYY. Video could easily be talking pitch tipping/legal sign stealing.
NYY have adamantly denied CB helped them do anything illegal. League corroborates
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) January 15, 2020
While the Astros and Red Sox seem to have been particularly arrogant while stealing signs, the practice is prevalent across the league. That is why MLB tried to sweep it under the rug, and it’s the reason comments like the ones CC Sabathia made this week may end up looking bad down the road.
Two of the last three World Series champions have been linked to a major sign stealing scandal that has erupted within Major League Baseball, and CC Sabathia can’t help but feel personally impacted by the acts.
Sabathia’s New York Yankees lost to the Houston Astros in the 2017 ALCS and the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS the following year. We already know the Astros are guilty of using electronic equipment in an elaborate sign stealing scheme back in 2017, and MLB is investigating the Red Sox for similar violations during their 2018 championship season. In an appearance on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” Tuesday night, Sabathia said he feels “cheated” now that the allegations have been confirmed.
“As everything’s been coming out and the more facts that we get, it’s getting frustrating, man, to sit here and know that late in my career I could’ve had a title, maybe ’17 or maybe ’18,” Sabathia said, as transcribed by ESPN. “But we got cheated out of a team kind of doing something that’s not within the rules of the game.”
The Yankees lost to the Astros in seven games, and Sabathia started Game 7. All four of the losses in the series came at Minute Maid Park, which is where Houston had set up a video monitor outside its dugout to help steal signals from opponents via a center field camera feed. Sabathia said the fact that the series was so close makes the cheating harder for him to swallow.
“When I first heard it, I was upset, and then as investigations went on … I was like, well, we can’t go back and play the games,” he said. “But as more information started to come out, I’m like, we played a seven-game series in 2017, ALCS, and we lost really on kind of like one pitch.”
Like many others, Sabathia feels even the $5 million fine, loss of draft picks, and season-long suspensions of former Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were not enough. He wants Houston to vacate its 2017 World Series title. Considering who MLB painted as the mastermind behind the cheating with the Astros, Sabathia may soon feel the same way about the Red Sox.
Most people would be willing to make a lot of sacrifices for $324 million, and one of the ones Gerrit Cole had to make when he signed with the New York Yankees was bidding farewell to his facial hair.
Cole has had a beard throughout his entire MLB career, but he now must adhere to the Yankees’ notorious appearance policy, which forbids facial hair. At his introductory press conference on Wednesday, Cole took the podium clean-shaven.
Gerrit Cole is OFFICIALLY a Yankee! pic.twitter.com/dm04YZMkZm
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) December 18, 2019
Naturally, the right-hander was asked about having to shave now that he is a member of the Yankees. He had a great response.
Cole on shaving his beard: “I’ve experienced razor burn now for the first time.”
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 18, 2019
The Yankees’ appearance policy has led to some very unique concerns for star players in the past, but they certainly have a reputation for paying well. Cole may have liked his beard, but he now has 324 million reasons to help him forget about it.
The New York Yankees have already made one big splash in the pitching market, but they may not be finished trying to add an arm.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Yankees reached out to the Milwaukee Brewers to discuss a potential trade for reliever Josh Hader. Milwaukee, however, is not considered motivated to move their star reliever.
Yankees are among teams to talk to Brewers about Josh Hader, as @Ken_Rosenthal reported. NYY does have the players to make it work. No sense from teams yet Milwaukee is motivated to move him. But they are talking.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 14, 2019
Combined with Aroldis Chapman, Hader would give the Yankees a dynamite one-two punch of bullpen lefties. The asking price, however, is expected to be high. Hader struck out 138 batters in 75.2 innings last season and is regarded as one of baseball’s best relief pitchers.
The Yankees already made their biggest splash of the offseason, but they’re clearly determined to get even more stars in if they can. Any Hader pursuit would clearly signify that.