It would be hard to make the situation resulting from the Astros cheating scandal worse than it already is, however, the Astros are giving it one heck of a try.
On Thursday, Astros Owner Jim Crane addressed the media along with sluggers Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. However, if anyone watching the press conference was expecting the team to take ownership of the sign-stealing scandal the team used to help win a World Series in 2017, they were sorely disappointed.
In fact, Crane began the presser by saying the sign-stealing scandal didn’t help the Astros win the World Series.
“Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”
Of course, one would have to question why the Astros invested such considerable time and effort in developing the sophisticated cheating scheme, if it didn’t “impact the game.” Not to mention the considerable risk they took in implementing the scheme considering that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had specifically warned teams not to engage in this type of cheating.
Crane was then asked by ESPN’s Marly Rivera, what he was apologizing for if the cheating had no impact on the game.
"So then what are you guys apologizing for?"
"We're apologizing because we broke the rules."
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 13, 2020
Crane’s nonsensical answer begs the other logical follow up question which is, why is electronic sign-stealing against the rules if it doesn’t impact the game? Crane’s fumbling continued as he contradicted himself less than a minute after saying the sign-stealing didn’t impact the game.
"Our opinion is that this didn't impact the game." – Jim Crane
"I didn't say it didn't impact the game." – Jim Crane 55 seconds later pic.twitter.com/MnpPeeTUPL
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 13, 2020
Crane wasn’t done saying wrong things, however. Next, the Astros owner went on to claim that the true fault lies with former GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch, not the players.
“It could have been stopped and it wasn’t stopped,” Crane said. “Our players should not be punished….These are a great group of guys who did not receiver proper guidance from their leaders.”
It is crucial to note, that this is the exact opposite of what the MLB investigation says. The league’s investigation explicitly states that, with the exception of former Astros bench coach Alex Cora, the cheating scheme was entirely “player led.” Meaning, the “great group of guys” should have really borne the brunt of the punishments handed down by MLB. Instead, incredibly, the league declined to punish any of the players.
Speaking of the players, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman also addressed the media.
“I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me,” shortstop Alex Bregman said. “I’ve learned from this, and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans. I would also like to thank the Astros fans for all of their support. We as a team are totally focused on moving forward to the 2020 season.”
Altuve gave a similar, less than one-minute speech.
“The whole Astros organization and the team feels bad about what happened in 2017,” the second baseman explained. “The team is determined to move forward, to play with intensity and to bring back a championship to Houston in 2020.”
However, it’s abundantly clear from the press conference, that not everyone in the Astros organization “feels bad” about what happened in 2017. In fact, Crane literally said, “I don’t think I should be held accountable,” when asked if he should have taken more responsibility for the cheating scandal.
While it appears from all the evidence that Crane was unaware of the cheating scandal, defiantly claiming that he should not be blamed and that the scandal had no impact on the game, is not consistent with someone who “feels bad” about what happened.
Crane also said that he is confident his players never wore electronic buzzers. That portion of Crane’s comments actually makes sense. After all, why would the players wear buzzers telling them which pitch was coming when none of this had an impact on the game?
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn