Yet again, Astros leadership made a bad situation worse.
At a long-awaited apology news conference Thursday, Houston owner Jim Crane said his team’s 2017 sign-stealing scheme “didn’t impact the game” and struggled to articulate why the players who participated in a scheme described as “player-driven” shouldn’t be punished for their actions.
Predictably, Crane began his remarks by pointing to the steps he’s taken since November and portraying himself as already having addressed the issue — not-so subtly emphasizing that he had already issued an apology, and saying the team “went above and beyond” by firing GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch after MLB issued them one-year suspensions.
MORE: The origins of the Astros’ sign-stealing
The most significant soundbite of the press conference, though, came a bit later, after players Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve made very brief appearances to apologize.
Crane, responding to a question about potential messages he wanted to say to other teams the Astros beat in 2017, delivered this doozy, which he quickly backtracked:
Later, Crane had to clarify that he’s “not trying to hide behind” the commissioner’s report regarding not punishing players, he merely “agreed” with the report.
“We’re not going to do anything to the players,” Crane said, about 10 seconds after saying, “I think I’ve done just about everything I can.”
“[The commissioner has] taken a position — and I agree with it — that the players weren’t going to be held accountable. The leaders were held accountable, and that’s where we’re going to leave it.”
In the clubhouse after the news conference, some players handled the situation a bit better. Carlos Correa accepted more responsibility than any Astros player has previously, disputing reports that Carlos Beltran intimidated younger players into participating in the scheme. Yuli Gurriel told ESPN, “No one put a gun to our head.”
“Whatever we were doing, we had the chance to stop it as a team. Everybody. Everybody had the chance to say something, and we didn’t,” Correa said, per ESPN.
VIDEO: Amazing candor from Carlos Correa, calling ‘BS’ any anonymous report that Carlos Beltrán intimidated young players and that they were not allowed to speak up. pic.twitter.com/BWXzsbQvIa
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) February 13, 2020
“It was definitely wrong. It was definitely wrong, and we should’ve stopped it at the time,” Correa added, via the Tampa Bay Times.
All in all, #Astros players seems genuinely remorseful. Carlos Correa’s comments stood out from the bunch. He said that he believed illegal sign stealing offered an an advantage. Added that he didn’t believe it had an effect on 2017 postseason or WS because teams altered signs. pic.twitter.com/B0Mh5ugVws
— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) February 13, 2020