In November last year, a report published by The Athleticrevealed the Astros had illegally used technology to decipher their opponents’ signs during the 2017 season and during part of the following campaign.
The signs were then relayed to Houston batters in real time by banging on a garbage can.
The team’s status has been tarnished in the eyes of rival players and rival baseball fans, with Astros players on the receiving end of hostile receptions during Spring Training games in February and March.
Gattis admitted the reputation was deserved and no apology would make up for the systematic cheating the Astros carried out.
“We cheated that, for sure, and we obviously cheated baseball and cheated fans,” he told The Athletic’s “755 is Real” podcast in an expletive-laden interview on Thursday. “I’m not asking for sympathy or anything like that. If our punishment is being hated by everybody forever, just like whatever. I don’t know what should be done, but something had to f***ing be done.
“I do agree with that, big-time. I do think it’s good for baseball that we’re cleaning it up… And I understand that it’s not f***ing good enough to say sorry. I get it.”
Gattis, who appeared in 84 games for the Astros in 2017, with 12 homers and a .767 OPS in 325 plate appearances, admitted the team’s actions were simply indefensible.
“We didn’t look at our moral compass and say this is right,” he explained. “It was almost like paranoia warfare or something. But what we did was wrong. Don’t get it twisted: It was wrong for the nature of competition, not even just baseball.”
Surprisingly, Gattis praised Mike Fiers, the former Astros pitcher who blew the whistle on the sign-stealing scheme.
“He had something to say, so he had to f***ing say it and then we had to get punished,” Gattis said. “Because if not, then what? It’d f***ing get even more out of control. I mean, it’s a tough subject. Yeah, I think a lot of people feel duped, and I understand that.”
Following the report from The Athletic, the MLB launched an investigation into the allegations, which resulted in the Astros being fined a record $5 million and losing their first and second round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts.
General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were suspended for the 2020 season and have since been fired by team owner Jim Crane.
In a nine-page report published in January, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league had established the scheme to steal signs was “player-driven.” Astros players escaped punishment.
The MLB commissioner explained he had resisted calls for Houston players to be fined and for the team to be stripped of its 2017 title because the league was mindful of creating a potentially game-changing precedent.
Carlos Beltran, the only player mentioned in the report, has since retired from his job as manager of the New York Mets.
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