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Stanton says he’d hit 80 homers in 2017 if he knew what was coming

Giancarlo Stanton

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

We are seriously enjoying this Major League Baseball season and the first spring training game won’t even be played until Saturday.

Who needs ball and strikes when MLB players are lining up to throw blame and acrimony at the Houston Astros for brazenly cheating in 2017 by using technology to steal signs.

Every day since pitchers and catchers reported at least one MLBer of note has taken his Fungo bat to the ego of the Astros organization, calling out their owner and their players, assailing their sinister motives and impoliteness.

“I figured they would get backlash,” Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon told ESPN. “But the anger that’s been coming out is definitely surprising.”

Why is he surprised? When you do something purposefully that takes championships, awards and money away from other players, you are going to hear about it.

On Wednesday, the media covering the New York Yankees gave Giancarlo Stanton his at-bat and the slugger sized up the fastball and ripped it over the centerfield fence.

“If I knew what was coming in ’17, I probably would have hit 80-plus home runs,” Stanton said.

Of course, Stanton hit 59 homers that year playing for the Miami Marlins, so what’s another 20 or 25 when you’re trying to nail down a point?

Stanton’s wiseass statement again gets right to the heart of the issue, tells us why so many players are jacked off about this. Who knows exactly how much of an advantage Astros hitters had in 2017 by knowing what pitchers were coming?

We can only guess. But the players actually know.

That’s why Stanton also hammered Astros owner Jim Crane, who famously said last week his team’s conduct may or may not have had an impact on games.

“He knew. He knew,” Stanton said. “It would have been better if there was an apology or explanation on their side. We know that [the Astros] don’t really care to give an apology or explain their side, and it showed by their response. As players, we know that. You know the repercussions of doing something like that, and you’re only really sorry because you got caught.”

Stanton also said he believes the Astros should be stripped of the 2017 World Series title and their players should have been subjected to harsher penalties.

“They (MLB) did their investigation and it was clean-cut that they cheated that year, which means it (the 2017 world championship) should be taken away. I mean, if you cheat in another way during the season you can’t even be in the playoffs, so therefore [you] would be eliminated,” Stanton said. “So it’s pretty much the same – same difference. I don’t think the penalties were harsh enough player-wise. I think that, at the end of the day, it gives more incentive to do that, if you’re not going to punish the players that took part in it.”

Giancarlo Stanton

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

What’s gotten some players really upset over the last two days was the warning delivered by commissioner Rob Manfred to teams who might be interested in throwing at Astros hitters this season as a way get some revenge.

“I think the best we can do on this topic – and I’ve had two meetings in the last 48 hours with field managers about this – my concern here is that whenever somebody is throwing intentionally at a player, it creates the risk of serious, serious injury,” Manfred said. “I’ve asked the managers to work with their players to prevent that type of activity which can lead to serious injury. We’ll be working closely with the umpires. We know there are going to be difficult situations. But I can’t tell you that I have a magic bullet to prevent those issues. All we can do is get in front of the issue, we’re really cognizant of it, and we’re already taking steps to try to minimize those sorts of problems.”

Think about it: If Astros hitters believe opposing pitchers will be hesitant to throw inside, out of fear of ejection if a batter is hit, they will be able to sit on pitches out over the plate. That’s right – Houston’s hitters will have another advantage no other hitter in the league has.

“The Astros win again,” one player said this week.

Or as LeBron James, of all people, tweeted out this week:

“Listen I know I don’t play baseball but I am in Sports and I know if someone cheated me out of winning the title and I found out about it I would be f—ing irate! I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do! “Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your players speaking today about how disgusted, mad, hurt, broken, etc etc about this.

“Literally the ball is in your court(or should I say field) and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports! #JustMyThoughtsComingFromASportsJunkieRegardlessMyOwnSportIPlay”

We can’t wait until tomorrow to hear what’s coming next.