Hank Aaron didn't mince his words about MLB's illegal sign-stealing scandal, advocating for a lifetime ban for proven cheaters.
On Thursday, the Braves legend told "Today" correspondent Craig Melvin that MLB's current discipline, none of which has resulted in a player suspension, doesn't come close to fitting the crime.
"I think whoever did that - they should be out of baseball for the rest of their lives," said Aaron.
The Hall of Fame slugger admitted that sign stealing was prevalent during his career, which spanned three decades and ended in 1976. But, he told Melvin, "They didn't steal them that way."
So far, only Astros' manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow received suspensions from the league for their role in the team's illicit use of the replay room. No players involved in the sign-stealing were penalized by the league, and that's unlikely to change. Rob Manfred granted immunity to Astros players who cooperated with the league's probe.
After Thursday's owner's meetings, Manfred said he hopes to complete his investigation on the Red Sox's reported sign stealing from the 2018 season before Spring Training but don't expect any players to get penalized. The MLB commissioner likened his approach to that of a prosecutor letting suspects and conspirators go free in exchange for vital information.
"In order for us to get the facts we needed, somebody had to get immunity," Manfred told Erik Boland today, defending his approach. "And that is not a novel thought. It happens all the time in law enforcement."
This isn't the first time Aaron has spoken out against cheating in baseball. The former home run king has been a open critic of accused steroid users.
"The thing is, do you put these guys in, or do you put an asterisk beside their names and say, 'Hey, they did it, but here's why?'" Aaron told reporters back in 2009. "To be safe, that's the only way I see that you can do it."
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