Anyone who didn’t think the current Houston Astros were contrite enough about getting busted for sign-stealing in 2017, recently retired catcher Evan Gattis is offering a full-on expletive-laced apology and explanation over the cheating scandal that has rocked baseball.
Gattis, a catcher and designated hitter on that World Series championship squad, says that players “got so f–king caught up” in the sign-stealing scheme “that we f–ked up” and they deserve whatever scorn they have been receiving from fans and opponents across MLB.
“Everybody wants to be the best player in the f–king world, man…and we cheated that, for sure, and we obviously cheated baseball and cheated fans,” Gattis said on The Athletic’s “755 is Real” podcast. “Fans felt duped. I feel bad for fans.
“I’m not asking for sympathy or anything like that. If our punishment is being hated by everybody forever, just like, whatever. I don’t know what should be done, but something had to f–king be done. I do agree with that, big-time. I do think it’s good for baseball that we’re cleaning it up. … And I understand that it’s not f–king good enough to say sorry. I get it.”
An MLB investigation led to the suspensions and then firings of Houston GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, as well as former Astros bench coach Alex Cora as Boston Red Sox manager and former Astros player Carlos Beltran as manager of the Mets.
“We didn’t look at our moral compass and say this is right,” Gattis said. “It was almost like paranoia warfare or something. But what we did was wrong. Don’t get it twisted: It was wrong for the nature of competition, not even just baseball.”
Gattis added that he doesn’t have a problem with former Houston teammate Mike Fiers, the pitcher who served as the whistleblower when The Athletic first broke the story in December.
“He had something to say, so he had to f–king say it and then we had to get punished,” Gattis said. “Because if not, then what? It’d f–king get even more out of control. I mean, it’s a tough subject. Yeah, I think a lot of people feel duped, and I understand that.”
Astros players received immunity for their testimony in the investigation and none were disciplined by MLB. Cora and Beltran were considered the leaders of the scheme, which included cameras detecting signs being given to the opposing pitcher and relayed in real time to batters via the slamming of a garbage can near the dugout.
“Nobody made us do s–t. You know what I’m saying? People saying this guy made us, that guy made us, that’s not it,” Gattis said. “But you have to understand the situation was powerful.
“You work your whole life to try to f–king hit a ball, and you mean you can tell me what’s coming? It was like, ‘What?’ It’s a powerful thing, and there’s millions of dollars on line and s–t. And that’s the bad of it, too, that’s where people got hurt. And that’s not right. That’s not playing the game right.”
Gattis appeared in 84 games for the Astros in 2017, with 12 homers and a .767 OPS in 325 plate appearances. He said his mother recently joked to him, “Were you deaf? Could you hear it? Because you didn’t really do that good” that season.
“Who knows? Who knows who it helped?” Gattis said. “But it’s the comfort factor.”
Gattis also called Hinch “one of the best communicators I’ve ever f–king met in my life” and “an incredible person to play for,” even if the manager didn’t put a stop to the cheating.
“I don’t think he liked it. I don’t know. I just think we got f–king caught up. We f–ked up,” Gattis said. “I empathize with him and I also empathize with the f–king pitchers who had to pitch against the f–king 2017 Astros, too. I f–king get it.
“Dude, do you think if I was their f–king catcher that I’d be happy? You know what I mean? Like, hell no. So I understand people’s anger.”
Gattis, who joined the Astros in 2015 after two seasons with the Atlanta Braves, admitted that anger also included a few teammates in Houston.
“Some people are f–king mad also on our team. Not mad at people hating us, just mad, like kind of on the fans’ side,” Gattis said. “Not everybody was super-happy about the cheating. … They were teammates, and maybe they didn’t feel like they were in a position to say anything.
“And they’re living with it right now. I could have said some s—t, I could have done something, but I did not. Definitely not.”
Gattis also was at the plate in September when White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar appeared to figure out the can-banging situation and called out his catcher to alter the signs.
“Towards the postseason, I don’t know if anyone else was cheating, but people knew we were doing something,” Gattis said. “Respect to Farquhar, by the way.
“But people knew, so they combated it. They heard rumors. It’s a small world in baseball, so I think everybody at least was paranoid, rightfully so. I think everybody kind of combated it well, but I know that sounds like I’m making a f–king excuse.”
Gattis added that he “never got a sign in 2018,” but he understands why people believe the Astros’ championship the previous year should contain an asterisk.
“It got out of f–king control,” Gattis said. “That’s why I’m actually glad that the objective truth is out there. We f–ked up, and it was not right. It was wrong. It’s a little easier to see it being f–ked up afterwards.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy we won the World Series. It was a great time for Houston, especially after (Hurricane) Harvey. … But once that all fades, now it’s kind of different. That happened and we cheated. You can’t feel that good about it. As I grow up, this is a story now, this is gonna be a story next year, and this going to be a story in a decade and longer.
“I’m trying to come up with something positive out of this, other than now we know. But f—k, MLB punished us — I guess not the players — but everybody’s gonna have to wear the boos and all that s—t and be a punching bag, I get it. I understand why you’re mad.”
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