And so it came, on Thursday morning — a statement from Crane, and then apologies from both Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve (both chosen to do this, presumably because they are the two best players on the team):
Man, the Astros had at least a month (really longer, considering they've known an investigation has been ongoing since late last year) to plan, and THAT'S what they came up with? Yikes. Not exactly a great day in Astros history. In fact, let's start there...
Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve apologize on behalf of the Astros for the sign-stealing scandal:— SNY (@SNYtv) February 13, 2020
"We have learned from this, and we hope to regain the trust of baseball fans" pic.twitter.com/5cwjyHE1Q2
Not a great day for the Astros
In retrospect, it was silly to even trot Bregman and Altuve out there with those prepared, non-interactive statements. That was a "no win" situation. The dirty little secret of most media members clamoring for an apology is that they want an apology so they can crap on the apology, and make no mistake, THOSE apologies were very worthy of crap targeting. Given how well some of their teammates did in their open clubhouse media scrums, Bregman and Altuve would have been better left to apologize in their own words and cadence in the clubhouse. As for Crane, who was tremendous in front of the media back here in Houston the day he fired Hinch and Luhnow, he didn't perform nearly as well in front of a hostile national media crowd....
Astros owner Jim Crane on the Astros' cheating scandal: "Our opinion is that this didn't impact the game."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 13, 2020
Crane when asked again later in the news conference: "I didn't say it didn't impact the game." pic.twitter.com/An3ex7zbWV
Stop with the buzzer talk already, please!
Look, the Astros DEFINITELY cheated back in 2017 and part of 2018. The commissioner's investigation outlines it in detail and not a single player or Astro employee has denied one word of the commissioner's report, as pertains to the actual cheating tactics themselves. However, just because the Astros were caught in this garbage can banging method of sign stealing doesn't lend any credence to baseless rumors of other forms of cheating, particularly something as ludicrous as players wearing buzzers underneath their jerseys. I'll credit Carlos Correa with the best "shut the hell up" answer in regard to this silly buzzer business....
One way fans and fellow players will undoubtedly punish the Astros
The vast majority of people outside Houston — fans, media members, opposing players — all feel the Astros, as an organization, got off light, and many of them feel the players should be punished in some way (even though the commissioner's policy on sign stealing punishment that was authored back in 2017 explicitly says players won't be punished, management will, but whatever). Since the commissioner won't punish the Astro players, and since Crane all but said they were victims of Hinch's management style, I think that fans will voice their disapproval by boycotting the Astros in All Star voting. The starters are chosen by the fans, and the reserves are chosen by MLB players and the commissioner's office. So both fans and players will have one small way to exact revenge. Keep in mind that the Astros have had six players make each of the last three American League All Star teams. This will be a fascinating wrinkle to watch when the votes begin getting tallied in May and June.
This is not going away any time soon
If anything, the Astros' press conference today probably threw more logs onto the fire, and a blight on the organization that Crane was probably hoping the team could sweep away quickly will undoubtedly be a dark cloud hanging over every road series this year. The Astros are the most hated team in sports right now, and they will be big box office, especially if they keep winning.
That Yankees Astros series in September is going to be absolutely insane. I wish it was April but it won’t matter. The Bronx Zoo will be ROCKING. Going to be one of those games you wish you were at years from now.— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) February 13, 2020
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.