Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Aaron Boone
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Yankees need to stop being nice and actually call out the Houston Astros for the infamous cheating scandal.

The New York Yankees are being too nice to the Houston Astros.

Just ask the retired CC Sabathia. On a recent episode of his podcast, R2C2, the big lefty did not hold back. As far as he’s concerned, the Astros’ sign-stealing cost New York a World Series or two.

Yet, the Yankees organization has recently taken a softer tone. General manager Brian Cashman appeared on the YES Network and though he said the matter was not yet “fully resolved,” he stopped short of calling out Houston directly. Manager Aaron Boone did the same, though he wasn’t with the Yankees in 2017 and thus wasn’t directly affected.

But things are different now. A report from Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal states the Astros cheated beyond 2017. Moreover, while commissioner Rob Manfred’s report called the Astros’ process “player-driven,” it’s clear the front office was also heavily involved.

And the Yankees have been playing it coy. We’ll discuss that later on, but think about it. A team that might have affected New York’s odds of winning a game was just found to have cheated beyond the scope of Manfred’s report. In fact, the report has arguably been contradicted by another.

Now, the Yankees are just going to play nice and focus on the season?

Sorry, folks, but that won’t fly. The Yankees need to start calling out the Astros, and there’s no better time than now.

Where things stand now

Now, it’s perfectly understandable why the Yankees haven’t commented on the latest from the Astros scandal. Diamond’s story dropped late Friday afternoon when most executives might have already left for the weekend.

It would thus be irresponsible for anyone to have commented already. The story is still new and everyone throughout baseball is probably still processing it.

Except, just a couple of hours later, MLB Network aired an interview between Tom Verducci and former Astros manager A.J. Hinch. In it, Hinch quietly dodged a question regarding a rumor about whether Houston taped buzzers to batters and signaled pitches through them.

Granted, the MLB stated that its investigation into the Astros revealed no such evidence. But Diamond’s report now casts doubt on that conclusion. Houston was playing a lot of dirty pool and making a concerted effort to do so.

There’s no way the Yankees or any other team can let that slide.

What should happen

And in a way, the Yankees quietly commented on the matter. On Friday, on “The Michael Kay Show,” reliever Adam Ottavino made an appearance alongside third baseman Gio Urshela. Both were asked about Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. For context, Altuve’s walk-off home run in Game 6 of the ALCS sent Houston to the World Series. Video of him asking for his jersey not to be ripped off while he crossed home plate adds to the aforementioned buzzer theory.

Ottavino toed the company line and didn’t really address if he thought Altuve knew what pitch was coming. Urshela, on the other hand, said Altuve “probably” knew what to expect.

This, Yankees fans, is what the players need to be doing. No more just accepting Manfred’s report and focusing on the 2020 season. Granted, that should be a priority too, but the stink of the Astros scandal isn’t going away quietly. If it’s sticking around, Houston needs to know exactly what it did.

Think about it. Diamond’s article described an intern developing a “codebreaker” algorithm to steal signs. This algorithm was used to illegally steal the signs. Not just at home in 2017, mind you, but both at home and on the road the following year.

But that’s not the worst of it. Derek Vigoa, the intern who designed the algorithm, is now Houston’s senior manager of team operations. Who’s to say more cheating won’t go on despite MLB’s punishment being handed down?

The Evil Empire

This is where the Yankees need to embrace being Lords of the Sith and not the New Republic. Letting the team’s performance on the field do the talking is only half the battle.

Look at it this way. A new week has dawned and Diamond’s report will surely receive some more attention in the few days before pitchers and catchers report. The Yankees don’t need to fully attack the Astros in the press if asked, but they can at least keep the narrative going.

Think about it. Aaron Judge is asked if he thinks the Astros cheated last season or past 2017 at all. There’s nothing wrong with him saying, “Based on what we know now, it’s very possible.”

Right there. He doesn’t assert that the Astros are guilty of cheating but doesn’t let them off the hook entirely. Judge could’ve also said, “There are still a lot of questions needing answers and we all deserve full transparency from Houston.”

The point is all 29 of the MLB’s other teams were affected by the Astros’ actions. A small handful of players lost jobs because of it. Judge or anyone else should not hesitate in calling out Houston in the above way.

Gerrit Cole, Cole Train T-Shirt

Final thoughts

All in all, the Yankees are probably staying the course when it comes to addressing the Astros scandal. Keep the opinions close to the vest if anything must be said at all.

This is no longer an option. Diamond’s report suggests that either MLB knows more than it’s letting on, or the Astros were not forthcoming in cooperating with the investigation.

If directly calling out the organization isn’t done, the Yankees and other teams should just keep the narrative going. The Astros cheated. Plain and simple. Until it’s confirmed that the cheating has definitely stopped, what happened should continuously be brought up.

And given how Houston potentially robbed them of not one but two American League pennants, the Yankees should be at the forefront.

Playtime is over. Enter the Evil Empire.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.