NL MVP Cody Bellinger says Astros' Jose Altuve stole 2017 AL MVP from Aaron Judge

ByAlden Gonzalez ESPN logo
Friday, February 14, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cody Bellinger, the reigning National League MVP, didn't hold back Friday morning when commenting about the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal and ensuing apologies.

Bellinger, speaking moments before Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catchers conducted their first official workout, said the Astros' pre-arranged apologies on Thursday were "whatever" and called the one from Astros owner Jim Crane "weak," a word he also used to describe the punishment from Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred because he granted the players immunity.

"Those guys were cheating for three years," Bellinger said of the Astros. "I think what people don't realize is[Jose] Altuve stole an MVP from [Aaron] Judgein 2017. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us. But it's over."

An investigation by MLB backed up initial comments made by Mike Fiers to The Athletic in November, revealing that the Astros had cheated by using a camera-based, sign-stealing system during the regular season and playoffs of their World Series-winning 2017 season and during part of the 2018 regular season. The investigation stated that the sign stealing did not take place in 2019.

Bellinger believes it did.

"A hundred percent," he said. "I don't know why they would stop."

Bellinger was among the most firm within a Dodgers clubhouse that expressed overall anger toward both what the Astros did and how they have handled the revelations from it. Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' longtime ace, has had a hard time processing all of it and said, "I don't know what to think anymore." Justin Turner, the team's All-Star third baseman, took exception to Crane stating that the Astros' sign-stealing operation "didn't impact the game," a statement Crane walked back moments later.

"It's mind-boggling to me that you had that much time to prepare for this," Turner said, "and you had to retract the first thing you said in the statement."

The Astros have also been accused of wearing electronic buzzers to be notified of upcoming pitches, an accusation many on the team have strongly denied. The biggest suspicion is rooted in video of Altuve telling teammates not to rip off his jersey after he hit his walk-off home run in the 2019 American League Championship Series.

Said Bellinger: "I don't know what human hits a walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman to send your team to the World Series, and, one, has the thought to say, 'Don't rip my jersey off,' but, two, go into the tunnel, change your shirt, and then come out and do your interview. That makes no sense to me."

Bellinger also expressed excitement about the upcoming season, noting how a Dodgers team coming off 106 victories has added former MVPMookie Betts and former Cy Young Award winnerDavid Price.

But Bellinger, like many others in his clubhouse, is clearly still upset about what took place more than two years ago.

He's still openly upset at Astros players.

"I lost respect for those guys," Bellinger said. "I would say everyone in The Show, in the big leagues, lost respect for those guys."

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