While the Houston Astros continue to get away scot-free for the role they played in the sign-stealing scandal of 2017, pitcher Justin Verlander looks as though he has no issue playing the role of the heel moving forward.
The Astros ace and 2019 AL Cy Young winner was in New York on Saturday night to accept his award, though his 21-6 season with a 2.58 ERA and 300 strikeouts is not what anyone in the baseball world is thinking about when it comes to baseball in Houston right now.
It’s been two weeks since MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released his findings after an investigation into allegations that the Astros illegally stole signs during their World Series-winning campaign two seasons ago.
General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for a year before team owner Jim Crane fired them, while the organization was docked $5 million and four draft picks over the next two years.
The players who benefitted the most from the scandal, however, were not punished.
It was later revealed in a report by Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal that Astros players were granted immunity as long as they input an honest testimony with MLB.
So as the rest of Major League Baseball remains up in arms about Houston’s tainted World Series title, current Astros players have to apologize; an infuriating response to many.
Verlander had a golden opportunity to do so on Saturday night but opted not to, claiming “everyone knows the Astros are technologically and analytically advanced.”
His comments were met with a mix of laughter and boos from the audience as it’s still unclear if he attempted to make an ill-timed joke.
According to the New York Post’s Peter Botte, former Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia looked “freakin’ pissed.” The recently-retired Sabathia was a member of the 2017 Yankees team that the Astros defeated in the ALCS on their way to their first and only World Series championship.
While Verlander wasn’t a direct benefiter of the sign stealing, Houston’s cheating did help him get that elusive World Series ring. And he won it during the season in which he made these comments to MLive.com:
“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 (base) 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.”
Hypocrisy at its finest.
While the Astros players fail to take responsibility for their actions, MLB fans won’t let them forget it any time soon. Houston’s first road game during the 2020 season comes on Mar. 30 in Oakland against the Athletics.