Sean Pendergast

Former Astro Carlos Beltran on Sign Stealing: "We Did Cross The Line"

Carlos Beltran is speaking up about his role in the Astros' sign stealing scandal.
Carlos Beltran is speaking up about his role in the Astros' sign stealing scandal. Photo by Jack Gorman
There is no doubt that COVID-19 either robbed us of a lot of normal sports calendar items, or at the very least, put some of those things on a long delay. In particular, for the rest of Major League Baseball outside of Houston, the pandemic robbed fans of an immediate chance to boo the Astros after it was revealed they stole signs via electronic means in 2017.

The Astros' punishment was handed down in January of 2020, and before spring training got out of second gear, there was a pandemic that shortened the 2020 season, robbed stadiums of their crowds, and ended with the Astros back in the ALCS. In 2021, it seemed like everyone was so happy just to have baseball back that the anger that was to be directed at the Astros in 2020 was largely put on hold (with a few notable exceptions).

Now, we are REALLY back to normal in 2022, so perhaps the Astro scorn is being dusted off, and finally deployed. To that end, Yankees GM Brian Cashman had this to say in an interview with The Athletic last week, where he was asked about the Yankees absence from the World Series since 2009:
“The only thing that stopped [us] was something that was so illegal and horrific,” Cashman told The Athletic at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “So I get offended when I start hearing we haven’t been to the World Series since ’09. Because I’m like, ‘Well, I think we actually did it the right way.’ Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off.”

Cashman was not howling with rage or screeching about injustice. His tone was level. It is true, he reasoned, that the Yankees have not won since 2009. It is also true that during that time period, the club stood one victory away from the World Series, only to fall to a club later discovered to be cheating.

“It does bother me when people say we haven’t been to the World Series since ’09,” Cashman continued. “We did it all right, by building it to a certain level that could have gotten us to a World Series — if not for something else. But hey! We’re back at it. Every year, we’re still back at it. We’ve been qualifying for the postseason, and we’re going to take this team as far as we can get it, and hopefully we can push through.”
Of course, Cashman didn't volunteer a reason why the Yankees missed the other 11 World Series since 2009, but I digress. So be prepared, Astro fans, the sign stealing anger from around baseball is still very much there, even though, with the departure of Carlos Correa, only three hitters remain from that 2017 championship squad — Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Yuli Gurriel. (Hell, Marwin Gonzalez, the biggest beneficiary of the scam, is now a YANKEE!)

Perhaps the most noteworthy participant in the 2017 scandal was outfielder Carlos Beltran. at the very least, he was the only player named in baseball's report on the investigation. Beltran's participation in the scheme, which was revealed after he'd retired as an active player, led to his resignation from the Mets' manager's role in late January 2020, before he ever managed a game.

Well, fast forward to today, and now Beltran is, somewhat ironically, a game analyst on the YES Network, which carries the New York Yankees' games. Beltran recently sat down with Yankees' play by play voice Michael Kay for an in depth interview, and he talked at length about his role in the sign stealing scandal:
As outlined in the above tweet, the interview airs on Monday, but the excerpts released in this tweet, reveal a few noteworthy nuances, all of which I am very anxious to hear more about from Beltran. They are:

It was confirmed again, Jeff Luhnow never shared the warning letter from MLB about electronic sign stealing with the players
“If they (the Astros front office) got the letter (from MLB), they knew, but they never shared it with us. Nobody said anything to us, you know, nobody said anything. I wish somebody would’ve said something. A lot of people always ask me why you didn’t stop it. And my answer is, ‘I didn’t stop it the same way no one stopped it.’ This is working for us. Why you gonna stop something that is working for you? So, if the organization would’ve said something to us, we would’ve stopped it for sure.”
This is where, if you're a person who doesn't understand why manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were fired, you should have a better understanding. Hinch knew about the trash can banging scheme, and the closest he came to stopping it was smashing a video monitor to try to send a message. Luhnow got a warning letter sent to him that was sent to all of MLB, and never passed it down the chain. It doesn't absolve the players, but it does show poor leadership from Hinch and Luhnow.

Carlos Beltran absolutely thinks there were times the scheme was working, and the players felt it was necessary in a cheating arms race, of some sort
“Nobody really said anything. We’re winning, you know, and some days our system really worked. Some days [it] didn’t really work…but we had a good team… We had such a good team.”

“We felt that when teams are coming to our ballpark [Minute Maid Park], we felt that some teams have something going on. So we felt that we needed to create our own [system], you know, and that’s what happened.”
I get the angst over feeling like you just need to "keep up with the cheating Joneses" out there, but man, couldn't you have come up with something less rudimentary than banging a garbage can like a bunch of cavemen, Carlos? Jeez.

Among all the players, Beltran felt singled out
“The part that bothered me about that is that, you know, when I sit down to cooperate with them (MLB), they said to me, ‘We’re not going against the players. We’re going against …field personnel, front office and organization’. And the fact that I’m the only player named in that report? So how… [did] that happen? Like, that’s the part that I don’t understand. Everyone gets immunity except Carlos Beltran? I don’t get it.”
Of course, this may be what led directly to Beltran being forced to resign from his first (and possibly, in the end, ONLY) opportunity to manage a big league baseball team. Two weeks after the report on the scandal came out, Beltran resigned from the New York Mets.

Beltran definitely feels the Astros' title is tainted
When asked if there is a stain on the Astros' title, Beltran said:
“Yeah, there is because, you know what we did. And we all have taken responsibility and at some point we all have shown remorse about what we did.”
Whatever. All i know is that I had a GREAT time at the parade that following Friday back in 2017, and nobody can take that away from me! Not even you, Carlos Beltran.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast