Anger surrounding the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal hasn’t abated. New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is the latest player to criticize the 2017 World Series winners, saying Houston should be stripped of its title and the offending players should be punished, according to reports.
"I just don't think it holds any value with me. You cheated and you didn't earn it," Judge said of Houston's seven-game defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which followed the Astros' elimination of the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. "It wasn't earned the way of playing the game right and fighting to the end.
"It wasn't earned the way of playing the game right and fighting to the end."
“The biggest thing about competition," Judge continued, according to ESPN, "is laying it all out on the line, and whoever's the better player, better person, comes out on top. And to know that another team had an advantage -- nothing that you can really guard against. I just don't feel like that's earned."
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Following the Yankees' first full-squad workout this spring, Judge responded to comments made Friday by reigning National League MVP Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, who accused Astros All-Star second baseman José Altuve of stealing the American League MVP Award from Judge in 2017, the network reported. Judge finished second in the voting.
Judge confirmed he deleted a social media post congratulating Altuve not long after learning about the result of the MLB investigation, which backed up statements made by Oakland Atheltics pitcher Mike Fiers, a former Astro, to The Athletic in November.
MLB’s investigation confirmed the Astros had cheated by using a camera-based, sign-stealing system during their 2017 World Series-winning regular season and playoffs, and during part of the 2018 regular season.
"I think I took it down right when, I think, the story broke out - right when, I think, Mike Fiers came out and stated that this is what was going on in '17. Once I heard that, I [was] just - just sick to my stomach to find out," Judge said. "I had a lot of respect for those guys and what they did, especially what they did for the city of Houston and that whole organization. And then to find out that it wasn't earned, they cheated -- that didn't sit well with me, and I just didn't feel like the post that I did really meant the same anymore," he told ESPN.
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“It affected a lot of games, no matter what anybody says,” Judge said. “It affected the game big-time. People lost jobs, people lost money, people lost a lot of things important to them.”
No players were punished by MLB.
“It affected the game big-time. People lost jobs, people lost money, people lost a lot of things important to them.”
"I really wasn't a fan of the punishment; I thought that was a little weak for a player-driven scheme, that no players involved got any punishments," Judge said.
Judge also said he believed the Astros' sign stealing had a direct impact on the AL Championship Series, which the Yankees lost to Houston in seven games. And even though the investigation detailed sign stealing did not take place in 2019, he disagreed.
"From what the report stated, they cheated in '17 and '18. That affected a lot of games. No matter what anybody says, that impacts the game -- knowing what's coming. That's more people on base, you're getting more walks, you're getting more hits; comes to the plate with more opportunities with guys on base,” Judge said.
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“To hear that you got cheated out of that opportunity, that’s tough to kind of let go,” Judge said.
Judge also specified that he disagreed with the fact the guilty Astros players themselves did not receive any punishment from Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred because they were granted immunity during the investigation, the Associated Press reported.
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"I really wasn't a fan of the punishment; I thought that was a little weak for a player-driven scheme, that no players involved got any punishments,” he said.
"When it comes down to a player-driven scheme, I feel like the players involved need to be punished,” he added. “If I go out there and cheat the game -- I think [former Dodgers pitcher Yu] Darvish was the one that said, 'If you're playing in the Olympics, you win a gold medal and you find out you cheated, you don't get to keep that medal.'"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.