Yankees: AJ Hinch doesn’t deny the Astros used buzzers during the 2019 ALCS

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Jose Altuve #27 and AJ Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros looks on during batting practice prior to Game Six of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Jose Altuve #27 and AJ Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros looks on during batting practice prior to Game Six of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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On Friday MLB Network released an interview with former Astros manager AJ Hinch in what was his first public appearance since being fired for his involvement in the teams’ cheating scandal in 2017. One of the questions asked to Hinch by Tom Verducci was whether or not the Astros used buzzers to cheat during last year’s ALCS against the Yankees.

When Hinch and former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow were both suspended until the end of the 2020 season on January 13th it was revealed that it was for cheating during the entire 2017 season and 2018 regular season only. However, that hasn’t stopped anyone from questioning if they continued to cheat, specifically during their run to the World Series in 2019 when they beat the Yankees in the ALCS.

By now, I’m sure everyone has seen the video of Jose Altuve following his walk-off home run in Game 6 off Aroldis Chapman where he yelled at his teammates not to rip his jersey off before he touched home plate. He followed that up by sprinting into the clubhouse to change out of his jersey and put his new AL Champs shirt on before being interview by FOX’s Ken Rosenthal.

Rosenthal was told by his producer to ask Altuve why he pleaded with his teammates to not rip his jersey and after Altuve asked him to repeat the question he said it was because his wife would get mad at him.

In the days and weeks that followed after the punishment was handed down, rumors began to swirl about Houston hitters taping electronic buzzers to themselves during the 2019 postseason. That led social media to go into a frenzy accusing Altuve of wearing a buzzer underneath his jersey that could have helped know what pitch was coming from Chapman. Last month Altuve vehemently denied the allegations.

We may never know if he was telling the truth but we know the Astros and Altuve cheated their way to a championship in 2017 so his antics after the home run and his response to the question came off as extremely fishy and hard to believe. He and everyone else from that team have lost all benefit of the doubt after staining the game the way they did and I don’t think anyone would be surprised if they continued to cheat past 2017.

During the interview with MLB Network Hinch was asked about the recent accusations regarding last year’s ALCS against the Yanks and his answer really only added more fuel to the fire.

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Verducci: I know the commissioner’s office looked into this and they determined that there was nothing to it. Can you assure us that there were no buzzers or anything like that being used [in 2019]?

Hinch: “We got investigated for three months. The commissioner’s office did as thorough of an investigation as anyone could imagine was possible. I knew you mentioned about the emails and the texts and the messages and I believe it.”

Hinch had every opportunity to just say no, but he didn’t and danced around the question instead. That has only led to more speculation and that’s likely not going to stop anytime soon.

In a separate interview on Friday Yankees players Gary Sanchez, Adam Ottaviano and Gio Urshela were all on The Michael Kay Show and were asked for their reactions to the sign-stealing scandal. All three players expressed they were angry and disappointed but Urshela, in particular, was asked whether he thought Altuve knew a slider was coming from Chapman. His response, “probably.”

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Ottavino went on to say that he doubts whether the Astros truly stopped their cheating ways when the Commissioner’s report revealed they did.

"“For me, when the trash cans stopped, it makes me think they just got smarter with the cheating, not that they stopped,” he said. “That lends itself to a possible buzzer system, I don’t know. Yeah, it’s tough. It’s a crazy rabbit hole to go down, for sure.”"