When Major League Baseball announced their findings after investigating the Houston Astros for electronic sign stealing, it confirmed suspicions that had swept across the sport.
With the exception of former Astros bench coach Alex Cora, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred deemed the scheme one that was player-driven, though players were granted immunity in exchange for testimony. That decision earned Manfred and the Astros plenty of criticism from their peers.
Defiant responses from Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman at Astros FanFest in January further fueled frustration. With Spring Training opening across baseball, the Astros used Thursday morning to formally address their actions.
However, the tone of the press conference fell flat and was hardly apologetic. Astros owner Jim Crane read from a prepared statement, and Altuve and Bregman combined to speak for less than two minutes before being ushered into the clubhouse.
Upon fielding questions from assembled media, Crane reiterated his belief the Astros’ sign-stealing did not impact results of games, said he wasn’t aware to what extent signs may have been stolen during the 2017 World Series and doesn’t feel a need to speak with the Dodgers:
“I really don’t have all of that information, I don’t know that anybody does. And I don’t feel it necessary to reach out to the Dodgers.”
Curious as it may seem, not definitively answering what impact the sign stealing had on games stems from Manfred’s nine-page report. In it Manfred wrote he was unable to make such a determination.
Nonetheless adding, “I find that the conduct of the Astros, and its senior baseball operations executives, merits significant discipline.
“I base this finding on the fact that the club’s senior baseball operations executives were given express notice in September 2017 that I would hold them accountable for violations of our policies covering sign stealing, and those individuals took no action to ensure that the club’s players and staff complied with those policies during the 2017 postseason and the 2018 regular season.
“The conduct described herein has caused fans, players, executives at other MLB clubs, and members of the media to raise questions about the integrity of games in which the Astros participated. And while it is impossible to determine whether the conduct actually impacted the results on the field, the perception of some that it did causes significant harm to the game.”
Speaking at Dodgers FanFest, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he didn’t believe the Astros had demonstrated enough remorse for their actions. Clayton Kershaw echoed that sentiment days later.
“It is a little bit interesting that the Astros players haven’t said, ‘Sorry,’ or meant it, or anything like that. Not a whole lot of remorse yet,” he said.
“Which, they did win a World Series and they’re not taking it back, so, I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t (any remorse). It would be good to hear from those guys and what they say about it. Maybe mean it a little bit, would be good.”
But, Kershaw also said the focus for the Dodgers was on moving forward. They will attempt to do so beginning Thursday, when pitchers and catchers are due in camp at Camelback Ranch for the start of Spring Training.
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