Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk wants Major League Baseball to punish the 2017 Houston Astros as severely as possible, including taking away their World Series championship.
Grichuk spoke at length on Saturday morning about the sign-stealing scandal that has enveloped professional baseball after the Astros were punished for cheating throughout 2017 and 2018.
Houston beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games to win the franchise's first-ever World Series. The Boston Red Sox, who defeated L.A. in five games for the 2018 World Series, are currently being investigated by MLB.
When asked if the Astros should be stripped of their championship rings Grichuk did not mince words.
“I mean, I would like to see that obviously, I bet the Dodgers would like to see that,” said Grichuk. “I've got a few friends on the Dodgers that are very disappointed that possibly two years in a row they lost due to a team going against the rules.
“So I think the bigger (the punishment) the better just due to the fact that more teams will say 'we're not even going to take the risk.”'
Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired on Monday, hours after both were suspended by MLB for a year for the team's sign-stealing scandal.
The penalties came after commissioner Rob Manfred found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston's run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined US$5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and the team must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.
Grichuk applauded the punishment, pointing out that taking away Houston's draft picks will cripple their ability to rebuild. He feels it's a necessary step since the impact of the Astros cheating goes far beyond winning championships.
“I think what a lot of people don't realize is how much it actually affects the game, not just wins and losses,” said Grichuk. “It affects the guys in triple-A trying to get back to the majors. Guys who were compared to them in arbitration, how much they made. So now they're going to make less.”
The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a centre field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher's signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter's odds of getting a hit.
Toronto reliever Ken Giles was Houston's closer in 2017, winning a World Series ring that year. He also spoke on Saturday at Winter Fest, the Blue Jays annual fan festival at Rogers Centre, but was far less candid.
“Not much I can say about it. It is what it is,” said Giles, who denied knowing anything about the sign-stealing operation. “I'm just going to move on from it. Everyone's got to move on from it. I'm more focused on here, what's going on here in Toronto right now.”
After MLB announced its punishments on Monday further allegations came out that Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and third baseman Alex Bregman wore buzzers underneath their jerseys in the 2019 post-season so that a team staff member in Houston's clubhouse could signal what pitch was coming next.
Altuve hit a walkoff two-run home run in Game 6 of the 2019 American League Championship Series off New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. Before crossing home plate Altuve signalled to his celebrating teammates that he did not want his jersey ripped off.
“I've heard this since the 2017 off-season so I know it's been rumoured about. I'm interested to see what else comes out,” said Grichuk. “A lot of the buzzer stuff that's going to come out. I know they did an investigation on that already so I don't know.
“It's frustrating for baseball and it's bad for fans to say 'we're going to a game to see our favourite player' only to realize he might be cheating.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020.