We all know Astros star Jose Altuve didn’t cheat, and now a New York writer confirms it.
Jose Altuve continues to be a lightning rod across the baseball landscape in spite of all the evidence that he is not, in fact, a cheater. As if we needed any more, we have none other than a New York-based journalist also confirming that the Houston Astros star is not at all deserving of the hate he’s receiving.
Andy Martino, who covers the Yankees and Mets for SNY, has released a book titled “Cheated: The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing.” I have not read the book, as it was just released this week, so I don’t pretend to know what’s in it or what conclusions one could draw from it. But the writer himself has confirmed some things on social media.
Several Astros players have said publicly that Altuve didn’t participate in the sign stealing scheme and didn’t want to have signs relayed to him during his at-bats. This has been further confirmed, with Martino explaining that “MLB investigators had developed an understanding that he was not interested in having the signs” before anything was publicly reported.
There are a very limited number of cases in which a trash can bang was heard during one of Altuve’s at-bats, and Martino addresses that as well. He said “when Altuve would hear a bang he would glare into the dugout,” letting his teammates know to cut it out. This is consistent with what we’ve heard before, but now we have a New York-based journalist confirming it.
So we know Altuve did not participate in the sign stealing scheme, but what about the buzzer theory? As we’ve said on this site many times, that outlandish theory has been debunked, as there’s not a shred of evidence that Altuve was wearing a buzzer under his uniform to signal what pitch was coming when he homered off Aroldis Chapman to end the 2019 ALCS.
Why The Hate?
Proponents of the buzzer theory point to the fact that Altuve didn’t want his teammates to rip off his jersey following the home run. But logic would dictate that if such a scheme were being utilized, his teammates would have known about it. Why would they want to rip his jersey off if they knew he was wearing a buzzer?
Others will claim there’s no way Altuve could have hit that pitch unless he knew what was coming. The problem with that is Chapman couldn’t control his fastball in that appearance and the Astros knew it. Any hitter worth his salt would’ve sat on the slider, and it helped that Chapman threw a cement mixer right over the heart of the plate — with Jake Marisnick on deck, no less.
Going back to the sign stealing, a commonly heard response is, “Well, even if he didn’t participate in it, he didn’t do anything to stop it.” Derek Jeter didn’t do anything to stop his teammates from using steroids and Cody Bellinger obviously hasn’t done anything to stop the pitchers on his team from using foreign substances, but no one seems to have a problem with that.
Besides, what was Altuve supposed to do? He was a 27 year-old who’s relatively quiet to begin with. You think he’s going to overpower the 40-year-old Carlos Beltran and his bench coach Alex Cora in that locker room? If respected veteran Brian McCann tried and failed to stop it, and if AJ Hinch couldn’t stop it, what makes anyone think Altuve was supposed to singlehandedly put an end to the scheme?
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Here’s Why The Hate
Altuve is the face of the scandal for two primary reasons: He won the 2017 AL MVP award over Aaron Judge, and he hit that home run off Chapman. Had Judge won the MVP and the Astros lost to the Yankees in both 2017 and 2019, it’s unlikely anyone would care about the sign stealing scheme anyway. But Altuve owns the Yankees, and that’s why they hate him.
They continue to call him a cheater for the simple fact that they want to believe he’s a cheater. You can put all the evidence in the world in front of these people and they won’t care. They’ll even explicitly say they don’t care. Now there’s even a New York journalist, who has no pro-Astros bias whatsoever, saying Altuve isn’t a cheater, and the haters still are not going to care.
But it looks like the shoe may now be on the other foot. Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer and Yankees ace Gerrit Cole are quickly becoming the faces of the growing scandal regarding illegal foreign substance use by pitchers. We’re already seeing fans of these teams using many of the same arguments Astros fans have been using regarding sign stealing being a league-wide epidemic.
Yes, the Astros did break the rules. No one denies that. But it’s entirely unfair for Altuve to be the face of a scandal in which he clearly did not participate. He earned his way to the major leagues, was a great hitter before the sign stealing and is still a great hitter today. No matter what the village idiots say, he’s as much of a role model as there is in this sport.