“I found his comments to be extremely strange,” Crane told Bob Nightengale in an interview. “There’s the letter, and you were doing it, too. You were there dude. What are you talking about? If I was one of the teams, and I knew our team was doing it [cheating], I’d keep my mouth shut and just go about our business. But listen, I can only control what’s going on here. I can’t control what the other guys do.”
Crane evidently took exception to the comments Cashman made to The Athletic in late March: “The only thing that stopped (us) was something that was so illegal and horrific. So I get offended when I start hearing we haven’t been to the World Series since ’09. Because I’m like, ‘Well, I think we actually did it the right way.’ Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off.”
Cashman’s Yankees lost in seven games against the Astros in the 2017 American League Championship Series. All of those losses came on the road, in Houston, with the Astros rallying from a 3-2 series deficit to win Games 6 and 7 by a combined score of 11-1.
The “letter” Crane references, meanwhile, is the one Major League Baseball’s commissioner Rob Manfred wrote to Cashman in 2017. It was unsealed by a judge and released in late April, a decision the Yankees appealed. The letter’s contents outline how the Yankees used the replay room during parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons to crack the opposing team’s signs and then relay that information to their runners on second base, who then tipped off their hitters about the upcoming pitch.
The Yankees were fined $100,000 for improper use of the dugout telephone. The league cleared the Yankees of subsequent wrongdoing, including after Manfred issued a letter warning teams about such endeavors in September 2017.
The Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, of course, occurred after the circulation of Manfred’s letter (though some players have claimed Houston’s front office never shared the contents or the message of said letter with the clubhouse), with SNY reporting that they stole signs during the 2017 World Series. The Boston Red Sox were later punished for violating the rules after Manfred’s warning to teams.
Crane also shared his thoughts on the unfair treatment he believes second baseman Jose Altuve receives from opposing fan bases.
“He was one of the few guys that didn’t want to deal with it,” Crane said. “He said, ‘I can just hit the ball, leave me alone.’
“It’s just not right the way they treat him. The tension in some of these places, they get out of whack pretty quick.”
Research and analysis conducted by Tony Adams at SignStealingScandal.com supports Crane’s assertion about Altuve. He received trash-can bangs on 2.7 percent of the total pitches he saw across 58 Astros home games. That’s the lowest percentage on the roster, save for Tony Kemp, who appeared in only 17 games for Houston that season.
Altuve was the subject of an unfounded rumor in early 2020 concerning the Astros’ potential use of a buzzer system. Proponents of the theory pointed to his unusual behavior after a walk-off home run during the 2019 ALCS, in which he didn’t want anyone to remove his jersey. Carlos Correa, then Altuve’s teammate, claimed that Altuve’s wife had requested they not remove his jersey, and that Altuve had an in-progress tattoo on his collarbone at the time that “looked kinda bad.” (Altuve was later confirmed to have a collarbone tattoo, for those wondering.)