Opinion: The 2017 Yankees, and Joe Girardi, were robbed

In the professional sports world, it's a known fact that cheating has occurred across all leagues, in all sports, for as long as professional sports have existed. That's not to say that news of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal was any less upsetting. While the Yankees weren't the only team to be seemingly robbed of a championship title as a result, news like this piece of news hurts more when it's your team who's victimized by said cheating.
Photo Credit: Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle

With the recent news of the Astros stealing signs during not only the 2017 regular season, but also the 2017 ALCS, it’s only normal for us fans to feel cheated.  The official report from MLB amounted to nine pages of actions against the Astros, including: 
  • “The media reports alleged that the Astros stole signs using a camera fixated on the catcher’s signs, a monitor with a live feed in the tunnel between the dugout and the clubhouse, and by banging garbage cans nearby to relay the signs to the hitter.” 
  • By the 2017 postseason, “the club continued using their systems to steal signs during the postseason, even after all 30 clubs were warned that September to not use electronics improperly to steal signs.”
  • Then the Astros’ bench coach in 2017, "[Alex] Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs. Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players' conduct.” Cora has been fired by the Boston Red Sox organization for participation in a similar sign-stealing scandal during the 2018 season as well as for his involvement with the Astros in 2017.
  • Astros’ manager AJ Hinch “went so far as to damage monitors”, but ultimately still allowed the scheme to play out under his watch without reporting it to the league.

While MLB can’t turn back the clock to the 2017 ALCS, the Yankees have a right to feel cheated considering all of the evidence listed in the report.  Not to mention, former Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi had his suspicions at the time, and no one at MLB really took them seriously.

“I wasn’t shocked,” Girardi told NorthJersey.com back in December 2019.  “We had to try to put in a lot of things to try to combat certain things.  You know, word gets around.” 

Of course, the question of whether or not Girardi deserved to be stripped of his employment following the 2017 postseason should be brought into the overall conversation surrounding this scandal.  There is only so far a manager can go to manage against a cheating team. 

Girardi wasn’t the only member of the 2017 squad to sound off; CC Sabathia, only recently filling his new role as a Yankees Special Adviser, had much to say on the subject. 

"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,” Sabathia told ESPN.  “But we got cheated out of a team kind of doing something that's not within the rules of the game."

Of course, it’s impossible to predict how the 2017 ALCS would have played out under normal circumstances, and critics will say that the Yankees didn’t play their best baseball regardless of the opponent or the supposed cheating occurring from the opposing dugout. However, us fans will never know what could have been.  If you’re anything like me, you won’t stop wondering anytime soon -- and, I’m willing to bet, neither will Girardi.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson

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