CHICAGO: Nice try, Jim.
That was Brian Cashman’s sarcastic response when addressing comments made by Astros owner Jim Crane against the Yankees’ general manager regarding Houston’s sign-theft scandal.
“I don’t think anybody’s going to dance to the tune that they sing,” Cashman said ahead of Thursday’s first of four games against the White Sox at guaranteed rate field. “I’d say it’s called diversion, he’s probably trying to equate the equivalent of a parking ticket with maybe 162 felonies.”
Cashman responded to Crane’s comments to USA Today earlier this week. Crane, in an interview with The Athletic earlier this year, denied that the New York executive singled out the Astros sign-theft scandal as one of the reasons for the Yankees’ recent dry spell in the championship.
“The only thing that stopped [the 2017 Yankees] was something that was so illegal and horrible,” Cashman said earlier this spring. “So I’m offended when I start hearing that we haven’t been to the World Series since ’09.’ … The only thing that threw us off course was a cheating circumstance that threw us off course.”
Crane called Cashman’s comments “extremely odd,” especially considering the infamous letter MLB commissioner Rob Manfred sent to the Yankees in 2017, which was released last month.
In the letter, Manfred said an MLB investigation found the Yankees illegally used their video replay room to steal signs and then forwarded them to the dugout in 2015 and 2016. The letter also alleged the Yankees’ illegal use of an iPad to watch a live game broadcast from the bullpen in June 2017. MLB fined the Yankees $100,000 and the funds were allocated for Hurricane Irma relief.
“There’s the letter, and you did it, too,” Crane told USA Today. “You were there, dude. What are you talking about? If I were one of the teams and knew our team was doing it, I would shut up and just go about our business.”
Cashman noted that the letter did not state that the Yankees were involved in transmitting signals to the batsmen in real time during live-at-bats, which was the threshold established in the Astros case in 2017.
“I don’t think anyone equates it to what the Astros did except Houston,” Cashman said. “[That is] feedback from everyone in the industry, including Major League Baseball.”
In a statement after the letter was released, the Yankees noted that the club was not being fined for sign-stealing, but “for improper use of the phone in the replay room,” noting that during the years in question, “sign-stealing was taking place by numerous teams as a competitive tool.” … and only became illegal after the Commissioner had laid down the rules on September 15, 2017.
And despite strong pressure from Yankees President Randy Levine to keep the letter secret, Cashman said he had nothing against its release.
“We have nothing to fear from this letter,” Cashman said.
Manfred issued a memo to all teams in September 2017, warning that he would hold all employees accountable for sign-stealing violations and that violators would face stiff penalties.
In the Astros investigation, MLB found extensive, real-time systematic sign-theft violations during its 2017 championship run that resulted in countless suspensions and fines, including the firing of manager AJ Hinch, then Astros bench coach and now Red Sox executive . Alex Cora and Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow. Former Astros player Carlos Beltran, now a broadcaster for the Yankees’ YES Network, resigned from his new position as manager of the New York Mets in the wake of the scandal.
“Nobody buys the tune they sing, nobody’s going to dance to that tune,” Cashman said of Crane’s comments. “And the reason I equated it to a felony ticket is, you remember, they lost several years to first-round draft picks, they were fined millions of dollars, and they decided their manager and general manager to dismiss their actions. There is no equivalent to that. That’s why I said it’s a distraction. Nobody believes it. Nobody sings to this dance tune. It is what it is. But I applaud him for trying.