Rizzo on Astros, WS: 'We did it the right way'

February 14th, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Though the Astros have apologized for stealing signs in 2017, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo wants to hear more. One more word, in particular.

“Somebody’s got to say the word over there -- ‘cheated’ -- and that’s important to me,” Rizzo said on Friday at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Houston held a press conference on Thursday with owner Jim Crane, manager Dusty Baker and players José Altuve and Alex Bregman, who read statements of apology. Other members of the team spoke to the media in the clubhouse. Rizzo believes there’s still something left to be said.

“We keep skirting around the word, and they cheated,” Rizzo said. “They were found guilty of it, and I haven’t heard it yet.”

The Nationals are linked to the Astros after their matchup in the 2019 World Series, won by Washington in Game 7 on the road. Rizzo said he did not have proof that the Astros stole signs last season, but he said that the Nationals “assumed they were [doing it], and we prepared diligently for it.” Washington mixed up its signs throughout the Series, as often as inning by inning.

Less than four months later, the first day of the Nats’ Spring Training was held in the same complex where the Astros opened their camp two days prior.

“One of the problems I have with it is that, [on Spring Training] Opening Day 2020, there’s 50 media-outlet people here and 47 of them are [with] the Houston Astros, who cheated to win a World Series, and there were three of them here with the current, reigning [World Series] champions -- and that’s not right,” Rizzo said.

As the Nationals reflect on their World Series victory, they are focusing on the work they put into it, not what their opponent was doing during the games.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this group than that,” Rizzo said. “We did it with character, dignity and did it the right way. We feel good about that. The thing that pains me the most is it that puts a black cloud over the sport that I love, and that’s not right.”