CC Sabathia on Astros sign-stealing scandal: Yankees got 'cheated,' Manfred should take away title

Former New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia isn’t downplaying the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal or the punishments that have gone along with it.

Sabathia, who pitched against the Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, said Tuesday on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” that he and the Yankees were “cheated” out of a possible title.

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“It's weird, like it changes all the time. When I first heard it, I was upset, and then as investigations went on ... I was like, well, we can't go back and play the games. ... But as more information started to come out, I'm like, we played a seven-game series in 2017, ALCS, and we lost really on kind of like one pitch,” Sabathia said.

“As everything's been coming out and the more facts that we get, it's getting frustrating, man, to sit here and know that late in my career I could've had a title, maybe '17 or maybe '18. But we got cheated out of a team kind of doing something that's not within the rules of the game.”

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Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow for one year and docked the Astros draft picks for the 2020 and 2021 drafts. The team was also fined $5 million. The Astros subsequently fired Hinch and Luhnow.

Sabathia said Manfred’s punishment should have gone further.

“Vacate it,” he said of the Astros’ 2017 World Series title. “I wouldn't be mad at that.”

The Astros set up a camera in center field at Minute Maid Park and had the feed connected to a monitor inside the clubhouse. Players or team employees would bang on a trash can to alert batters about pitches that were on the way by stealing the opposing catchers’ signals.

Bench coach Alex Cora and then-Astros outfielder Carlos Beltran were named as the people who set up the sophisticated scheme. Cora’s punishment was not yet determined because he is implicated in a separate video-play scandal with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox fired Cora as manager Tuesday.

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Beltran, the manager of the New York Mets, avoided punishment in the scandal because he was a player, Manfred said.