As pitchers and catchers report this week and position players begin appearing in camp the week after, expect a lot of them to be asked about the sign-stealing scandal that has defined the 2019-2020 offseason. That’s particularly the case for players on teams who faced the Astros in 2017.
Today the player talking was Masahiro Tanaka who was asked if he feels like the Yankees were cheated out of the 2017 World Series by the Houston Astros. You’ll recall, of course, that Tanaka’s Yankees lost to the Astros in a seven-game ALCS that year, when the Astros were almost certainly stealing signs.
Tanaka: “Yeah, I do feel that way . . . It’s a competition and the competition should be a fair competition,” Tanaka said. He added:
“You never know what would have happened, but at the same time you can say that what happened might not have happened. I don’t know if mad is the right word, but it’s something that’s out of the rules. They’re not, obviously, abiding by the rules.”
I’m sure he won’t be the last guy asked that in the next couple of weeks. I’m sure he won’t be the last guy to answer along those lines.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.