Kris Bryant comes down hard on Astros' scandal: 'What a disgrace that was'

Kris Bryant comes down hard on Astros' scandal: 'What a disgrace that was'

MESA, Ariz. – Saturday’s media session with Kris Bryant wasn’t the first time – nor will it be the last – a Cubs’ player openly admonished the Houston Astros for the recent cheating scandal that’s cast a shadow over camps on both coasts. It was certainly, however, the angriest a player has sounded since pitchers and catchers reported last Monday. 

“What a disgrace that was,” Bryant said. “Just watching their apology yesterday, too, there’s just no sincerity, there’s no genuineness when it comes to it. I certainly know that if I messed up big in that way, I’d be the first one to let you know just how big of a mess up it was. It’s just hard to believe, it really is. It’s sad.” 

Bryant predicts Houston is in for a long season: “I mean, I’m sure they’ll [get hit by pitches]. I’m sure they will,” he said. “Pitchers aren’t happy about it. Obviously you don’t want anyone to get hurt, but you know, I think if teams are going about it in the right way, and if you do get hit, you’re not going after people’s heads and stuff like that. I think they’re definitely going to experience stuff like that this year.” 

What started as a high-grade sign-stealing scandal has blossomed into a full-blown crisis, fueled most recently by the apathetic mea culpas issued during the Astros’ first media availability of the season. Owner Jim Crane explicitly stated electronically stealing signs and relaying those back to the hitter in real time had no impact on the outcome of a game, and the two player representatives chosen to speak publicly – Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve – read hollow, prepared statements for less than two minutes. 

“I even think that if there’s players that don’t want it, I think they’re still going through with the banging and stuff, because I really think it turned into a routine there,” he added. “And a lot of the apology yesterday was a lot about 2017. I’m pretty sure it was going on in 2018, 2019 too. And that’s just so sad, because I mean, if they didn’t get caught, they’d still be doing it. They’re only doing this apology because they got caught. There’s a lot of feelings on it. Everybody around the league is really upset, and rightfully so, because it’s really a disgrace to the game.” 

The most frustrating thing, according to Bryant (and many, many other players), is that livelihoods were deeply affected by Houston’s choices. Players and coaches lost jobs in the majors, some forever because of what went on, so it’s tough to watch Crane be hit with what amounts to nothing more than a financial slap on the wrist. And, you’ll remember, the players who were actually cheating didn’t get punished – at all. 

“I thought the whole punishment was weak,” he said. “They got fined, what, $5 million? You make that selling beers at the games now. You make that – I don’t know how many games – but you make that real quick.”

Related: White Sox' Dallas Keuchel defends 2017 Houston Astros as World Series champs  

Bryant admitted he didn’t notice anything when the team played in Houston last season, but obviously he wasn’t on the mound. Still, he was visibly frustrated when speaking on the scandal, calling it a “disgrace” multiple times. It’s easy, he said, to lay off even the most devastating offspeed pitches when you know you can just sit on and tee up a fastball in the upper 90s that you know is coming. And, for the record, Bryant “absolutely” believes that the Astros were also using an in-shirt buzzer system to tip pitches as well. 

“[It] just feels so wrong,” he said. “I mean, I was playing golf with my dad and I feel bad for taking a one-foot gimme putt … I personally think it’s worse than steroids. I really do. Steroids you still have to compete and hit the ball.”

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MLB, MLBPA 'increasingly focused' on plan to start 2020 season in May — in Arizona


MLB, MLBPA 'increasingly focused' on plan to start 2020 season in May — in Arizona

The start of the MLB season has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but baseball could return sometime next month.

Late Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Major League Baseball and the Players Association are “increasingly focused” on a plan which could allow the 2020 season to start in May. 

According to Passan, the plan would entail all 30 teams playing games in the Phoenix area without fans. Potential sites include the area’s 10 spring training ballparks, as well as Chase Field — home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Players, coaches and other essential personnel would live in “relative isolation” in local hotels, only traveling to the stadium and back. Per Passan, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are supportive of a plan for MLB’s return that follows social distancing and self-isolation protocols.

The plan depends on if the country sees a significant increase in the number of available coronavirus tests, ones with quick turnaround times. Some officials believe this may make June more realistic for baseball’s return, Passan said.

The plan would necessitate the approval of the players, who would be agreeing to leave their families for upwards of four-and-a-half months. Passan said there’s hope among union and league leadership that players will be convinced to play, citing the paychecks they’d receive, and the distraction baseball could provide the nation.

With the uniqueness of the situation, the league and union have discussed a number of possible significant changes. Passan mentioned several of them:

-Expanded rosters
-An electronic strike zone — assuring umpires and catchers are sufficiently distanced from one another
-No mound visits from coaches or catchers
-Seven-inning doubleheaders, allowing the league to play as close to 162 games as possible
-Micing up players regularly, to benefit TV viewers
-Team members sitting six feet apart in the stands rather than dugouts 

If the players and league agree to a deal, teams would head to Arizona in May — assuming the necessary housing, transportation and security are in place. 

MLB, MLBPA discuss playing entire 2020 season in Arizona without fans, report says

MLB, MLBPA discuss playing entire 2020 season in Arizona without fans, report says

As Major League Baseball and the Players Association think of ways to salvage the 2020 season, one idea broached involves all 30 teams playing in Arizona.

In a Monday phone call, MLB and the union discussed every team possibly playing in empty stadiums in the Phoenix area this season, according to the Associated Press. The idea is still in its infancy and the union would want to survey its members to see if they’d be on board.

There are 10 spring training ballparks in Arizona within 50 miles of each other. An obvious concern is Arizona’s severe summertime heat, which, according to MLB super-agent Scott Boras, could be combatted by playing daily tripleheaders in the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field.

Boras also noted the number of precautions that would have to be taken to ensure the league keeps those involved, and the outside world at large, safe.

RELATED: Two Cubs employees test positive for COVID-19

“You’re going to be largely separated from your families and you’re going to have to function in a very contained way,” he told AP’s Ronald Blum. “It’s not it’s not a normal life, this idea.

“You’re going to have an identified group of people. You’re going to have a constantly tested group of people. And you’re going to have a very limited access of those people to the outside world so that you can assure a very uncontaminated league, if you will, to produce a product that is inspirational to our country.”