When YES Network announced it was hiring Carlos Beltrán as a game analyst for the 2022 New York Yankees season, it ended his brief exile from Major League Baseball following the controversy surrounding the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Beltrán didn’t just happen to play for the Astros in 2017, he was, according to multiple teammates, one of the key figures in a sign-stealing scheme that included banging on trash cans in the dugout to signal incoming pitches to a Houston batter. Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich, Beltrán “helped create the system, and as the senior member of the team, his voice functionally prevailed over all others.” Per teammates, he intimidated other players into participating, even if they didn’t want to. He was also the only Astros player named in the commissioner’s report on the scandal

Beltrán ended up losing his job as New York Mets manager in 2020 after MLB’s investigation despite never managing a game for the team. After that, he was persona non grata in the baseball world (other than when he was maybe using a burner account to defend himself on Twitter). That is, until now.

While some have said that the former baseball star, who played for the Yankees between 2014 and 2016, doesn’t need to publicly atone for what happened during his time with the Astros, it appears that he (or some other people very high up at YES) felt otherwise. Beltrán sat down for an interview on YES Network’s CenterStage with Michael Kay where he finally admitted his role in the sign-stealing scandal and that the Astros’ 2017 World Series victory is tainted.

“We all did what we did,” Beltrán said, per a YES Network transcript of the program, which will air on Monday. “Looking back today, we were wrong.

“A lot of people always ask me why you didn’t stop it. And my answer is, I didn’t stop it the same way no one stopped it. This is working for us. Why you gonna stop something that is working for you? So, if the organization would’ve said something to us, we would’ve stopped it for sure.”

It is perhaps not the explanation that baseball fans want to hear, but it’s certainly an honest one. ‘We cheated because no one stopped us,’ is essentially what Beltrán is going with.

When asked about a letter that commissioner Rob Manfred supposedly sent to all MLB teams in September 2017 warning them that the league was going to would treat electronic sign-stealing more seriously, Beltrán implied that the front office never shared that with the players.

“Well, if they (Astros executives) got the letter, they knew, but they never shared it with us,” Beltrán said. “Nobody said anything to us, you know, nobody said anything. I wish somebody would’ve said something.”

While the YES analyst was certainly admitting his role in the scandal, he also seemed to be making sure that he came off as more of a cog in the machine rather than the ringleader that many others have said he was. That it was the responsibility of other people to have done more to stop him from doing what he did, essentially.

“I wish I would’ve asked more questions about what we were doing,” Beltrán said. “I wish the organization would’ve said to us, ‘Hey man, what you guys are doing, we need to stop this.’”

As for why the Astros felt like they needed to put so much effort into a sign-stealing program, Beltrán said that it was understood internally that most other teams were doing something similar and they needed to even the playing field.

“We felt that when teams are coming to our ballpark, we felt that some teams have something going on,” Beltrán said. “So we felt that we needed to create our own (system), you know, and that’s what happened.

“Almost every team has their video room next to the dugout. Our video room in Houston was in the clubhouse. So we needed to run there to see our at-bats… So we felt why we don’t have our video room next to our dugout?  Now, all of sudden we got our video room next to our dugout and it’s easy…simple. We had a feed that was good for us, you know?

“We’re seeing the game…you get to see the pitchers, you get to see the catchers. And then we felt that we could use that, you know, but we didn’t feel that we were really crossing the line there. We didn’t feel we were really crossing the line.”

One aspect of the investigation and fallout that Carlos seemed to have sore feelings about is the fact that he was the only player named. That, in his mind, most everyone else got “immunity” while his name was run through the mud.

“The part that bothered me about that is that, you know, when I sit down to cooperate with them (MLB), they said to me, ‘We’re not going against the players. We’re going against…field personnel, front office, and organization,’” Beltrán said. “And the fact that I’m the only player named in that report?

“That’s the part that I don’t understand. Everyone gets immunity except Carlos Beltrán? I don’t get it.”

As far as Houston’s World Series victory in 2017 goes, Beltrán admitted that there is a stain on it. Kinda.

“Yeah, there is because, you know what we did, and we all have taken responsibility and at some point, we all have shown remorse about what we did,” he said.

Whether Beltrán’s admissions will have a serious impact or if it’s too-little-too-late remains to be seen. From a PR perspective, it was a good move by YES to have their new hire come clean before he starts working for the Yankees, given the pressure he’s going to face. However, there are still a lot of qualifiers and yeah-buts in the apology to make it feel as though he’s saying all of this because he has to, not because he truly believes it.

The disdain that baseball fans have for the Astros over the sign-stealing scandal isn’t going away, especially since many feel that MLB didn’t properly punish the organization over it. So while admitting his role and that the championship won during that time is tainted is a good move on his and the network’s part, it probably won’t stop some baseball fans from booing him, even if he’s calling games for their own team now.

[The Athletic]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.