Are Luhnow and Hinch This Generation's Clemens and Pettitte? [UPDATED]

Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow needs to stop denying and start coming clean.
Former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow needs to stop denying and start coming clean. Photo by Jack Gorman
Update: Friday afternoon the Detroit Tigers announced they have hired A.J. Hinch as their manager in a multi-year deal.

Original story:

Last week, former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow went on the local news for an exclusive interview in which he claimed he had no knowledge of the film room shenanigans that cost him and former manager A.J. Hinch their jobs. "I didn’t know we were cheating. I had no idea. I wasn’t involved," he said. Major League Baseball sources quick to respond that Luhnow was indeed aware of the situation based on interviews MLB did with members of the organization.

Luhnow's unwillingness to accept culpability for the fiasco that has made the Astros the most hated team in baseball was both unfortunate and unnecessary. Hinch, on the other hand, has handled things differently. While he hasn't gone into details about his own involvement, he has admitted he could and should have done more. Like a good leader, he has accepted responsibility where Luhnow has not.

This reminded us of another pair of former Astros, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. The two legendary pitchers threw for the Astros in the early oughts, leading the team to its first World Series in 2005. The problem is that both players have been identified as users of performance enhancing drugs, particularly during their time with the Yankees.

Pettitte was somewhat contrite when admitting that he did in fact use PEDs, although primarily to help recover from injury more quickly he says. He cited his faith when he gave a remorseful press conference and apologized to fans for his poor judgment. It wasn't perfect, but it was about as honest as a former major leaguer can seem to be with such subjects.

Then there was Clemens, arguably one of the best four or five pitchers in the history of the game, who refused to admit any wrongdoing. He even spoke before a congressional hearing on the subject and played dumb, which eventually got him indicted for lying to congress.

The result for Pettitte was the restoration of his baseball image, though certainly not entirely. No one fully recovers from cheating, but fans and commenters were willing to let him slide at least a little because he came clean. Clemens may never recover in the eyes of the fans and, more importantly, the Hall of Fame voters who consistently keep him off the ballot his playing career deserves if his PED actions do not.

Luhnow is flirting with Clemens-like status in baseball. While Hinch has been mentioned in numerous potential managerial openings, no one seems to be sniffing around Luhnow's door for help in the front office (at least not yet?). And, frankly, it's because he sounds like a jackass. It is impossible for anyone to believe that an entire group of guys he hired were off on some completely covert operation without his knowledge, never mind tacit approval.

Nor should anyone believe that. The man who was the architect of the Astros success was known to have his hands in everything and hold near total control over the ball club. So, something as significant as electronic sign stealing and hammering trash cans with a baseball bat seems like a thing he might know about.

Maybe Luhnow doesn't care about returning to baseball. Maybe he honestly thinks people believe him. Either way, he's bordering on delusional if he thinks MLB teams will welcome him with open arms by simply denying reality. No one is buying what he's selling and he shouldn't be peddling it in the first place.

Just come clean, fall on your sword and accept responsibility for your actions. It doesn't matter if anyone else did it too or if there were other people who aren't being punished. You were in charge. You ran the show. Time to face the music and try to save your career before it's too late.

You don't want to end up like Clemens, shut out from a Hall of Fame he rightly deserves to join on the merit of his performance. Nothing is sadder than an aging star who can't or won't admit when he is wrong.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke