"Everybody wants to be the best player in the f---ing world, man," Gattis, who has since retired, told The Athletic's "755 Is Real" podcast. "And we cheated that, for sure. And we obviously cheated baseball and cheated fans. Fans felt duped. I feel bad for fans.
"I'm not asking for sympathy or anything like that. If our punishment is being hated by everybody forever, just like, whatever. I don't know what should be done, but something had to f---ing be done. I do agree with that, big-time. I do think it's good for baseball that we're cleaning it up. ... And I understand that it's not f---ing good enough to say sorry. I get it."
Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were given one-year bans and subsequently fired in January following an investigation by Major League Baseball. That probe confirmed the Astros had cheated by using a camera-based sign-stealing system during the 2017 regular season and playoffs and during part of the 2018 regular season.
The Astros also lost their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021 and were fined $5 million. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in January that he would not strip the Astros of their World Series title.
Former Astros bench coach Alex Cora and former player Carlos Beltran also lost their jobs as managers of the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, respectively.
"We didn't look at our moral compass and say this is right," said Gattis, who played catcher and served as designated hitter for the Astros in 2017. "It was almost like paranoia warfare or something. But what we did was wrong. Don't get it twisted: It was wrong for the nature of competition, not even just baseball."
The scandal came to light after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, who now pitches for the A's, told The Athletic about the Astros' wrongdoings in November.
"[Fiers] had something to say, so he had to f---ing say it and then we had to get punished," Gattis said. "Because if not, then what? It'd f---ing get even more out of control. I mean, it's a tough subject. Yeah, I think a lot of people feel duped, and I understand that."
Gattis said players weren't under any pressure from Beltran or any other players to participate in the sign-stealing scheme.
"Nobody made us do s---. You know what I'm saying? People saying this guy made us, that guy made us. That's not it," Gattis said. "But you have to understand the situation was powerful.
"You work your whole life to try to f---ing hit a ball, and you mean you can tell me what's coming? It was like, 'What?' It's a powerful thing, and there's millions of dollars on line and s---. And that's the bad of it, too, that's where people got hurt. And that's not right. That's not playing the game right."
While he said Hinch knew of the scheme, Gattis said, "I don't think he liked it." Gattis also said other teammates were upset about what transpired.
"Some people are f---ing mad also on our team. Not mad at people hating us, just mad, like kind of on the fans' side," Gattis said. "Not everybody was super happy about the cheating. ... They were teammates, and maybe they didn't feel like they were in a position to say anything. And they're living with it right now. I could have said some s---, I could have done something, but I did not. Definitely not.
"It got out of f---ing control. That's why I'm actually glad that the objective truth is out there. We f---ed up, and it was not right. It was wrong. It's a little easier to see it being f---ed up afterwards. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy we won the World Series. ... But once that all fades, now it's kind of different. That happened and we cheated. You can't feel that good about it.
"... I'm trying to come up with something positive out of this, other than now we know. But f---, MLB punished us -- I guess not the players -- but everybody's gonna have to wear the boos and all that s--t and be a punching bag. I get it. I understand why you're mad."
Should Luhnow, Hinch suspensions be pushed back to 2021?
Woody Paige says the suspensions of AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow should be continued when the MLB season resumes and not served during the global pandemic.