“Houston Astros–Helluva Problem on Their Hands”
The first day of spring training, the excitement of new acquisitions, the watch on players coming off major surgeries, new faces in new places. Excitement everywhere on the map that stretches everywhere from the Cactus League to the Grapefruit Circuit.
Everywhere but at West Palm Beach, where the Houston Astros camp looked like an armed guard fortress. Security everywhere. An uneasy feeling to start Thursday, finished with a lot of anger coming out of that first day.
The Astros held an apology press conference, that started with Owner Jim Crane, spread to new manager Dusty Baker, and the 12-players who are left on the roster from the 2017-World Series team.
You know, the team fingered, indicted, and disciplined for using electronics to steal signals from the catchers to the pitchers, in home games at Minute Maid Park, opening day right thru the World Series.
Commissioner Rob Manfred unloaded on the Astros after months of investigation, but now the feeling is he did not do enough, now that more evidence has surfaced that Houston started stealing signals back in 2016 and continued into 2018.
The 5M fine, the firing of the GM and manager has not brought an end to the criticism. What happened on Thursday will make it worse.
The owner put on a lame display talking to the media, insinuating Houston put together a great team, won a World Series, and the cheating did not impact games they played..
Then in strange fashion, he asked newly hired Dusty Baker to speak, though Baker was out of baseball last year, never affiliated with Astros. Of course Dusty was the manager when baseball’s other modern day cheat, Barry Bonds, was steroid-slugging his way to home run records.
The Houston stars had a mixed bag of apologies, but their remorse was limited to just 1-minute apiece at their individual press conferences. It sounded like they were more sorry they got caught, than sorry for what they allowed to happen.
Carlos Correa…’wrong for everything we did..it’s not what we stand for…it has affected careers..affected the game.’
Alex Bregman…’we must regain the fans trust’
Jose Altuve…’remorse-yeah sort of….it was wrong-it was bad’
Justin Verlander…’I wish I had said more. I can’t go back. I can’t reverse my decision’
George Springer…’we regret everything..the amount of remorse is apparent.
Yuli Gurriel…’we are all responsible’
Lance McCullers…’it wasn’t something that was impactful’
Josh Reddkick…’we don’t feel the need to reach out to those guys to apologize’
So the players have had their say, but the criticism is mounting, maybe more now at the Commissioner, topping the condemnation directed at the Astros.
For the Astros, they got off easy. They stole at least a season worth of victories. They impacted the playoffs and the World Series.
If I were king, I would have taken all their draft picks for a full year. Taken all their international signing slots. I would go back in and discipline the underlings in the front office, who were part of this too, working on behalf of Luhnow. Maybe coaches on that Hinch staff would have been terminated too.
Everything about Astros baseball is toxic right now, and there is more to come. Houston is now Public Enemy #1 in every ballpark they play in. The media will not back off the relentless coverage of the topic in every city the Astros play in, despite the attempts of the team to curb the probing media. The fans will be vicious.
Adding to the fuel to the fire was the Crane, the owner, sluffed off any responsibility. It was his GM, his manager, his coaches, his players. He wants to come out as the guy being a victim himself. Talk about being tone-deaf.
Sorry I cannot view him in the light as a victim like the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw or Yu Drvish, or the Yankees, all victims in that season and in postseason.
This has the ability to be a miserable season.
The two most important things in baseball are the integrity of the game, and the sanctity of the record book. Both have been violated.
Unless MLB vacates the championship crown the Astros received, or puts an asterisk in the record book next to their name, I do not know how baseball gets beyond this scandal.
It’s not the 1919 Black Sox scandal, it’s closer to the gray area of Pete Rose, but it’s as ugly and tainted to how steroid laced sluggers impacted the game.
The letter “H” on their hats will not stand for something very different. The Astros had a helluva team that year. They have a helluva credibility program now. And this will be a helluva ugly season from start to finish.