MLB: The long, winding, painful reach of the sign-stealing scandal

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: Alex Bregman #2 and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros look on as owner Jim Crane reads a prepared statement during a press conference at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 13, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: Alex Bregman #2 and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros look on as owner Jim Crane reads a prepared statement during a press conference at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 13, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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MLB: The long, winding, painful reach of the sign-stealing scandal

It’s a little different for the Oakland Athletics, for whom Astrogate whistleblower Fiers is about to start his second season, and where Fiers himself would like to move forward and his manager and teammates have his back as a hero.

For one thing, the A’s were hip to Astro chicanery and actually filed a formal complaint with baseball government before Fiers blew his whistle. For another, Fiers helped make them hip to it in the first place, telling them when he came aboard—just as he had in Detroit when he became a 2018 Tiger—to beware the AIA spooks and adjust accordingly.

Marwin Gonzalez became the first 2017 Astros position player to show remorse for the sign-stealing scandal. Now with the Twins, Gonzalez said plainly, this week, “I wish we could take it back and do it a different way but there’s nothing we can do,” but he added that we’d never know now whether the ’17 Astros could have won that World Series straight, no chaser.

The word “cheating” didn’t come out of his mouth, either, not on the public record.

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Charlie Morton, one of the key pitchers in the Astros’ 2017 Series triumph (his Series ERA: 1.74), who’s now with the Tampa Bay Rays for whom he beat the Astros in 2019 division series Game Three, said last weekend that he was sorry he didn’t do more to stop the sign-stealing when he had the chance.

“I was aware of the banging . . . Being in the dugout you could hear it. I don’t know when it dawned on me, but you knew it was going on,” Morton told the Tampa Bay Times. “Personally, I regret not doing more to stop it. I don’t know what that would have entailed. I think the actions would have been somewhat extreme to stop it. That’s a hypothetical.”

What’s not a hypothetical: Morton, too, couldn’t bear to say “cheating” on the public record.

“Certainly the public perception of that win has changed, and my peers, too,” Morton added. “People have weighed in on this. That’s the reality of it. There are moments during the World Series that will always be special to me, that won’t be quote-unquote, tainted. But certainly, that’s justified, that’s a justified perception to have, and what people have expressed.”