Yankees undermined by two former players in Astros sign-stealing scandal
McCann saying nothing is just as bad
During the 2018 season, McCann only batted .212/.301/.339. While he remained a good catcher throughout his career, he had the slowest baserunning sprint speed of all major league catchers and the second-slowest speed of all major league players in 2018. McCann essentially was a “walking double play” waiting to happen, when he managed to get to first base. He retired following the 2019 season, ending his career with the Braves.
McCann was not only respected for his batting and his fielding as a catcher while he was with Houston (and other clubs), he also was an influential and effective leader in the clubhouse. He was considered to have a great deal of integrity and a good moral compass, and most players listened to what he had to say. In particular, McCann was a terrific role model for young players; at least it was thought at the time.
Unfortunately, he never spoke up about the electronic sign-stealing by the ‘Stros while he was with the team. Although he received a very generous contract from the Yankees, he sat on the bench silent, while the cheating was in full swing against the Bombers (and other clubs).
What happened to his principles, values, and veteran leadership? McCann had to know that sign stealing was going on and that it was illegal, especially after the MLB Commissioner’s Office had warned teams of severe punishment if clubs engaged in it following the Apple watch sign-stealing by the Red Sox. For some reason, McCann decided to look the other way and keep his mouth shut.
Whether he participated in the sign-stealing scam and benefited from it, we do not know for sure (though the MLB Commissioner’s office may have information about this). Yet, by not saying anything to anyone, McCann is as guilty as those who directly participated in the scandal and benefited at the plate from doing so.
Of course, there is a chance that he directly benefited from the electronic sign-stealing himself, and he, therefore, decided not to speak up. Or, maybe McCann didn’t feel that he owed his former club (and other clubs and players like him) anything.
My guess is that there was a weird dynamic playing out in the clubhouse. The Houston players liked and respected Cora and Beltran a lot, and Hinch was perhaps hesitant to step in and alienate Cora, Beltran, and the players who were directly benefiting from the sign stealing.
Clearly, the Astros have several talented and very strong (even arrogant) personalities on the club. McCann likely observed all this and decided it wasn’t worth intervening and creating a serious and enduring conflict in the Houston clubhouse, particularly near the end of his career.