February 15, 2020

Cody Bellinger Blasts "Weak" Statements From "Ring-Stealing" Astros; Carlos Correa Says Astros Won 2017 Title Fair And Square, But Also Feel Bad About Cheating

Cody Bellinger, Dodgers outfielder and 2019 National League MVP, spoke to reporters on Friday about the Astros' sign-stealing scandal and the team's public apologies.
I thought the apologies were whatever. I thought Jim Crane's was weak. I thought Manfred's punishment was weak, giving them immunity. Those guys were cheating for three years. I think what people don't realize is Altuve stole an MVP from Judge in '17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us. ... I know personally I lost respect for those guys. I think I would say everyone in the show, in the big leagues, lost respect for those guys.
The Dodgers lost the 2017 World Series to the Astros in seven games. MLB's report stated that Houston's sign-stealing operation ended some time in 2018, but Bellinger believes the Astros were cheating in 2019:
A hundred percent. I don't know why they would stop.
He questioned Jose Altuve's actions after hitting his pennant-winning home run in the 2019 ALCS.
I don't know what human hits a walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman to send your team to the World Series and has the thought to say, "Don't rip my jersey off", but to go in the tunnel, change your shirt, and then come out and do your interview — that makes no sense to me. Makes zero sense to me. Because I know me. Gary Sanchez said it yesterday. You can rip ... my pants off. I send my team to the World Series ... in the ninth inning, at home. I'm going crazy.
Other Dodgers spoke out, as well. Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling:
They went beyond the line. And I think it's up to us ... to keep reiterating that and saying that it did cross the line. ... I think one of the worst things that could happen would be we get through spring and it's just forgotten about ... Or they get pegged for the first two games and then it's forgotten about. It needs to be reiterated and that might be from our side saying, "Dude, this was not the norm back then." I keep seeing that on Twitter and other places. "That was just the norm. That's the way baseball was and the Astros got caught." That's not true.
Last week, when Stripling heard rumours he might be traded to the Angels, he wondered whether he would intentionally throw at any Astros. (The Angels open the 2020 season in Houston.) "I would lean towards yes. In the right time and the right place."

Fellow pitcher Alex Wood noted that if that happened, Stripling would likely be suspended for throwing at players cheated for years but escaped punishment.

Clayton Kershaw:
Some of those guys seemed remorseful, some of those guys said the right things, gave a good apology. And that's great. I'll move on with that. And then you get the owner up there saying some dumb stuff and it's like, "What's going on? How can you be that ignorant to the situation?" I don't really know what to make of it all anymore.
Third baseman Justin Turner:
It's hard to feel like they earned it and they earned the right to be called champions.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa did not appreciate Bellinger's comments.
I don't have problems when people talk about 2017 and about what happened that year because, honestly, we were wrong. Everything that happened that year was absolutely wrong, and we obviously show remorse for that because we really feel bad about everything that happened in 2017.

The problem I have is when players ... don't know the facts, they're not informed about the situation and they just go out there and go on camera and just talk. ... [W]hen [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.
Ken Rosenthal, who conducted the interview for The Athletic, reminded Correa that MLB's report did state the Astros cheated
at least for part of the 2018 season". "[T]he Astros' replay review room continued ... to decode signs using the live center-field camera feed, and to transmit the signs to the dugout through in-person communication.
The Astros stopped this cheating only because they doubted the system's effectiveness. So who has reading comprehension problems, Carlos?
[H]e says, "José Altuve cheated Judge out of the MVP." Cody, you don't know the facts. Nobody wants to talk about this, but I'm going to talk about this. José Altuve was the one guy that didn't use the trash can. The few times that the trash can was banged was without his consent, and he would go inside the clubhouse and inside the dugout to whoever was banging the trash can and he would get pissed. He would get mad. He would say, "I don't want this. I can't hit like this. Don't you do that to me." ... The bangs that are on Twitter or whatever, that shows it. Altuve played clean the whole year. [Tony Adams, an Astros fan who created signstealingscandal.com, documented only 24 bangs for Altuve. The top six Astros, including Correa, all topped 95.] ...

I want to address [the buzzer allegation] as well. 2019, nobody wore buzzers. That's a lie. The reason José Altuve didn't want to get his shirt ripped off, I'm going to tell you. Earlier in the year, he hit a walk-off at Minute Maid Park; I ripped off his shirt with Tony Kemp. There are pictures of that. There are videos of that. You can go look at it. I ripped off his shirt, and his wife told my wife, "Why is Carlos ripping Altuve's shirt? I don't like that." So when he's running from third base to home plate, I'm the guy up front. The first one waiting for him. He's like, "Don't take my shirt off." The second reason — he doesn't want me to talk about this, but I'm going to say it, is because he's got an unfinished tattoo on his collarbone that honestly looked terrible. It was a bad tattoo, and he didn't want nobody to see it. He didn't want to show it at all. So, one, he didn't want to take his shirt off because his wife had told my wife earlier in the year for me to not do that. So he was telling me not to do it. And, number two, he had an unfinished tattoo that looked kinda bad that he didn't want people to see and people to talk about. That was the reason. But Altuve has never cheated. … He was not wearing buzzers. That's a story that a fake account on Twitter broke, and then people just got on that wagon and started talking about the buzzers. Like, no. Nobody thought about buzzers. Nobody was using buzzers.
So (1) Altuve's wife didn't like her husband's jersey getting ripped and (2) Altuve had an unsightly unfinished tattoo that he didn't want people to talk about. ... Nope, sorry. Those are both ridiculous. Try again. ... It would have been a vibrator, anyway, not a buzzer, because the opposing catcher or umpire might hear a buzzer.

When Correa is asked whether the Astros earned the 2017 World Series title, he goes through the games, noting that the Astros won two games in LA and both teams used intricate signs.
World Series games are too important to use easy signs. There are Morse codes out there. There are signs that nobody can get. There are so many variations you can use, and nobody can get that. ... When I analyze all the games, we earned that championship. We didn't steal it. Instead of talking about it, he should have done something about it. ... [T]hey left so many guys on base in Game 7, throughout the whole World Series. Cody didn't have a good World Series. [Bellinger went 4-for-28, with 17 strikeouts (no player on either team had more than nine).] ...

Don't think that we feel great because we cheated that year and we got away with it and all that. No. We've got to go to bed every single night thinking about what we did and how wrong it was. We've got to live with that. [Bellinger] said that they all lost respect for us. But that's not how life works. We all make mistakes. ... It's how you confront those mistakes that you make. You've got to admit to those mistakes. You've got to accept those mistakes. ... Cody Bellinger's job is to ... be informed before you talk about other players. If you don't know the facts, then you've got to shut the fuck up.
This is the story Correa is trying to sell us:

The Astros felt horrible about getting away with cheating and winning the World Series in 2017. It was truly a burden on their souls. And every single night, they would go to bed and be alone in the dark with their thoughts, tossing and turning as their memories resurfaced and nagged at them, forcing them to relive the mistakes they had made, the wrong they had done. But they survived. They managed to get themselves out of bed, face a new day, and dream up new ways to cheat in 2018. Again, they did this because they felt so bad about cheating in 2017.

The Astros made mistakes. But "it's how you confront" those mistakes, how you accept them, that's important. (However, these cheating schemes cannot really be described as "mistakes"; they were months-long operations that they indulged in every day, week after week, month after month. "Mistake" implies a one-time error.) In any event, I would argue that Astros have not really confronted the fact that they cheated for years.

Is it remotely possibly to dump the "we-feel-so-bad-about-the-wrong-things-we-did" shtick? Everyone knows you didn't feel bad! The cheating went on for years. You were completely fine with it. Stop insulting our intelligence.

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