The Yankees are united on two fronts. The first is a World Series lying in wait. And then, there is all that anger directed at the Commissioner and Astros.
One by one, the Yankees are commanding the attention of the sign-stealing cheaters in Houston and the Commissioner of MLB, Rob Manfred. The expressed anger is fast and furious, and it’s coming from all quarters of the Yankees organization.
Today, Yankees Pitchers – Tomorrow, The Position Players
In alphabetical order, the following is the lineage of that protest, with brief snippets and links to the full article that registers the depth of the Yankees’ concerns.
Zack Britton (New York Daily News – February 17, 2020)
Zack Britton appears most concerned with Commissioner Manfred.
Reacting to Rob Manfred’s issuance of a warning about severe punishment for any Astros hit by a pitch with intention, Britton says, “Any retaliation is, I feel like you’d go to their level a little bit. To me, the best retaliation is winning.”
Aroldis Chapman USA Today – February 13, 2020
Aroldis Chapman, Yankees fans recall, is the pitcher who threw an 84 mph slider that was bludgeoned by
Jose Altuve as though he knew it was coming. The walk-off home run sent the Yankees to defeat in the 2019 ALCS.
Ensuing charges that Altuve, seen grasping his shirt in a panic on his way to the plate, remain alive that he was wearing a buzzer that signaled the off-speed pitch was on its way.
Restrained in his comments, Chapman took the high road, claiming, “I accept responsibility, I gave up the homer, and we lost.”
Asked specifically about Altuve and the pitch, Chapman deferred, offering, “That’s a good question for him, for those guys, I just don’t know.”
Gerrit Cole (USA Today – February 19, 2020)
Gerrit Cole, in more ways than one, is carrying a lot of weight on his back. The fact he was a member of the Houston Astros for two seasons before signing with the Yankees puts him square in the middle between teammates old and new.
Overall, Cole insists the Astros did not cheat in 2019 and doesn’t remember anything illicit in 2018. As a pitcher, that could very well be true considering that typically most of his time is spent in the bullpen.
But the more significant issue facing Cole is the discomfort he is experiencing as his new Yankees teammates go for the blood of the Astros.
To that, Cole replies, “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion.” People handle this the way they want to handle it. We’re all grown guys around here. I’m certainly not going to tell somebody how to think.
“I don’t see it as an issue. I’m not personally offended about that.”
Chad Green (New York Post – February 8, 2020)
Chad Green apparently doesn’t read the newspapers. “I think everyone is moving forward. It’s kind of in the past for the most part. I’m sure the conversation is gonna get brought up again at some point. We’ll see what happens.”
Well, we’re seeing now, Chad, two weeks later, and the “hits” just keep on coming.
J.A. Happ, Adam Ottavino, and Jordan Montgomery
Happ and Montgomery are heavily engaged in a competition to win a spot in the Yankees rotation, while Ottavino is focused on a rebound from a disappointing second half in 2019.
James Paxton (NorthJersey.com – April 14, 2019)
James Paxton presents an interesting case as a pitcher who firmly believed he was “tipping” his pitches to
Astros when he was bludgeoned in an 8-6 loss at Minute Maid Park in a game when all runs came without runners in scoring position.
Curiously, it was the now-deposed Mets manager Carlos Beltran who, while working in the Yankees front office last year, alerted Paxton to how he was tipping his pitches.
Notably, Beltran, even though he knew, never let on as to what the Astros were doing.
Looking back now, the words coming from Yankees manager Aaron Boone also carry an eerie tone. “We realized something was probably going on from behind, that guys could potentially pick up with him here and there.”
“Those are things we stay really vigilant with.”
CC Sabathia (New York Post – January 17, 2020)
CC Sabathia, having retired at the end of 2019, is no longer on the Yankees roster, but he deserves a spot here. As one of the angriest Yankees, Sabathia unleashed a profanity-filled tirade against the Astros.
It comes with good reason, however, as Sabathia cannot retaliate against the Astros by shutting them down as current Yankees can.
Sabathia did not mince words in releasing this torrent: “F–king ’17, we should have won the World Series,” Sabathia said during an episode of his R2C2 podcast with Ryan Ruocco released Thursday. “I don’t care what nobody says.
And now that this happened, nobody can ever f–king tell me that we wasn’t gonna win it. We should have won! There’s no way you can tell me we weren’t better than them. I don’t give a f–k what nobody says.”
Luis Severino (New York Post – February 12, 2020)
Much like Paxton, Luis Severino, who had some rough postseason outings against the Astros, spent an excessive amount of time in the video room looking to see if he was tipping his pitches.
Severino laments, “A lot of things go through your mind when you’re pitching against a team that good. You think, ‘Am I tipping?’ and spend hours in the video room looking and saying, ‘What am I doing?’ Then you hear what the problem is, and it wasn’t even tipping.”
“Marwin Gonzalez apologized, and that’s great,” Severino said. “They [made] a little mistake. They regret it, and now we have to move forward and keep competing.”
Masahiro Tanaka ( USA Today – February 10, 2020)
Usually reserved, Masahiro Tanaka took a step back in time to reflect on the suspicions he and other Yankees had about the Astros.
Going into the 2019 ALCS, “we were actually cautious about it,” Tanaka said of the Yankees practice of “changing up the signs, making it a little more complex” to guard against suspicions of Houston’s sign stealing.
“There was a little bit of thought of, ‘Was there something going on?’ And once you hear the news, then you know there was actually something going on.”
Gravitating to the high moral standards of his Japanese culture, Tanaka added, “It’s a competition, and the competition should be a fair competition.”
The Beat Goes On
Controversy continues to swirl throughout major league baseball, and it extends far beyond the Yankees clubhouse.
Commissioner Rob Manfred remains under fire, and there is no end in sight.