Carlos Correa fires back at Cody Bellinger

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Oh boy.

Cody Bellinger ripped the Astros yesterday. He claimed among other things that the Astros stole the 2017 World Series, that Jose Altuve stole the MVP award from Aaron Judge, and that Jim Crane’s claim that the banging scheme didn’t impact games was “weak.” Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has now responded to Bellinger. Ken Rosenthal’s got the full transcript over at The Athletic, and I highly recommend giving it a read.

Correa gives plenty of interesting quotes here, but the money shot is his claim that part of the reason that Altuve didn’t want his shirt ripped off at the end of the ALCS is because Altuve had an ugly unfinished tattoo on his collarbone that he didn’t want anyone to see. Legions of Internet sleuths are combing through Altuve photos for evidence of this supposedly horrifying tattoo as we speak. For what it’s worth, Altuve does not have a tattoo on his collarbone in these pictures from July 29th, but could have theoretically gotten one between then and the ALCS. Where were you when this meme was born?

He also claimed that Altuve in fact did not cheat, because he didn’t want to partake in the banging scheme and therefore won the MVP cleanly. Additionally, Correa claimed that the Dodgers’ signs in the World Series were too complex to decipher, so therefore (according to Correa) the Astros won their rings without cheating.

Correa said Bellinger was being unfair when he claimed that the Astros were cheating in 2018 and 2019, and said that Rob Manfred’s report cleared them of wrongdoing in those years. He had to backtrack when Rosenthal reminded him that the report stated that the Astros continued to illegally use their video room to decode signs in 2018. The report hasn’t proved to be the most ironclad retelling of events, so Correa using it as a crutch here is not the greatest thing in the world. 

If there’s one thing to be said for Correa, it’s that he hasn’t shied away from speaking his mind in the wake of all this nonsense like so many of his teammates have. His comments after the press conference earlier this week were some of the most genuinely apologetic quotes from any Astro since this story broke. That being said, some of his claims in this interview strain credulity.

This is now the third different reason that’s been given for Altuve’s aversion to getting his jersey ripped off, alongside the “I’m shy” and “My wife doesn’t like it” excuses offered back-to-back by Altuve immediately after the game. His defense of Altuve’s MVP award is novel at best. Does Jose Altuve really have a bad tattoo on his collarbone? Did he really not want to participate in the banging scheme? They’re both possible, but do the Astros have any credibility to stand on right now? The answer is no.

As for the 2017 World Series, you can decide for yourselves whether or not the “We tried to cheat but couldn’t because their signs were too hard to decode, so therefore we didn’t cheat” argument is compelling. I personally find it to be farcical.

I can’t totally criticize Correa for wanting to stand up for a teammate and the leader of his clubhouse. Yet at the same time, Correa needs to understand that he doesn’t have to fight these uphill battles, especially when he and his fellow Astros don’t really have a leg to stand on. It’s all good and fine to want to defend whatever shreds of credibility they have left. But to do so by offering more excuses that strain believability and to go the whole we-tried-to-cheat-but-couldn’t-therefore-we-did-nothing-wrong route for the World Series is misguided at best.

Sometimes the best course of action is to just bite your tongue and take your lumps, especially when you’re clearly in the wrong. Correa may want to consider that for the future.

UPDATE [2:00 PM EST]: The ever-reliable Jomboy seems to have found evidence of Altuve’s tattoo.

So, there’s that. That’s the 2019 World Series patch on his jersey too. Maybe this tattoo really does exist after all.

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MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.