You’d think that, given their workplace of Texas, the Astros players would know the difference between a smoking gun and a hand-sized water pistol.
Alas, those from the defending American League champions who took to social media on Saturday — in the wake of a titillating story that tied the Yankees to illegal sign-stealing — will learn soon enough that they jumped the gun.
Actually, if they have been reading The Post regularly, as they should, then the upcoming big reveal will turn out to be smaller than a hidden buzzer.
Multiple industry sources told The Post the letter Rob Manfred wrote to the Yankees in September 2017 — the results of an investigation launched from the Red Sox “AppleWatchGate” scandal — documents a pair of sign-stealing-related transgressions that, given the era in which they occurred, constituted the equivalent of driving 60 mph in a 55 zone:
1. The Yankees improperly used a dugout phone in a season before 2017.
2. In 2015 and 2016, some Yankees players stationed themselves in their replay room in an attempt to steal opponents’ signs, then relayed that information to runners on second base so they could try to tell the hitter what was coming.
The commissioner included the former in his September 2017 announcement that penalized the Red Sox (with a $200,000 fine) for illicitly using an AppleWatch to convey swiped information. This was the same announcement that drew a line in the sand for future transgressions that the Astros crossed with their trash-can-banging system — resulting in the dismissals of their president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, as well as Red Sox and Mets managers Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran.
The latter was detailed by former Yankee Mark Teixeira to The Post’s Joel Sherman in a column published Feb. 21.
In that column, MLB absolved the Yankees of any penalty for these actions, offering in a statement: “After the 2017 season, we learned that a number of Clubs believed utilizing video monitors in the clubhouse and video room to decipher signs so they could later be relayed to a runner on second base was not a violation of MLB rules as long as the information was not communicated electronically to the dugout. As a result, we clarified the rules going forward to expressly prohibit such conduct.”
Fast-forward to right now. When news broke Friday that the Yankees were attempting to keep the letter from Manfred sealed after a U.S. District judge ordered it to be released, people understandably grew excited. Including some of the very Astros players who found their reputations damaged.
Shortstop Carlos Correa, pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and outfielder Josh Reddick all poked fun at the Yankees via social media, and who can blame them? Misery loves company. They’ll learn soon enough that their scandal remains the gold standard.
As for why the Yankees argued the disclosure of Manfred’s letter would cause “significant reputational injury,” that’s strong real-world wording given that all of their peccadilloes are already public. However, they fought it because they were looking to avoid the very storm of allegations and speculation they faced Saturday. Furthermore, the Yankees believe there simply exists no justification for the publication of the letter. This is a dead case that didn’t involve them.
It looks like the Yankees, who plan to file an emergency appeal, are going to lose this battle, though the judge will let them redact some names. When the letter gets unsealed Friday, as is the current plan, some finger-wagging moralists, particularly those based in the Lone Star State, probably will attempt to make some hay over it. To try to minimize what the Astros did.
It won’t hold up. History won’t recognize the comparison. Whatever reputational injury that’s coming the Yankees’ way, it’ll feel like a paper cut to what hit Minute Maid Park.