“I don’t think we feel the need to reach out to those guys, or anybody for that matter,” said Houston outfielder Josh Reddick when asked about how his actions may have affected his friends on other Major League Baseball teams. “It is what it is.”
As avid baseball fans know, the Houston Astros were rocked by MLB sanctioned consequences, resulting from the team’s massive cheating scandal over the last several seasons and postseasons. Last month, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued punishments for the franchise, including a $5 million dollar fine, the loss of multiple 1st and 2nd round draft picks and a one-year suspension from pro baseball for GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch. Last Thursday was the franchise’s first public press conference to address the scandal and its consequences, a perfect opportunity for ownership and players alike to take responsibility and apologize for their actions.
As Reddick expertly demonstrated for all the baseball world to see, nobody in the organization seems to particularly care about how their sign-stealing adversely impacted other teams across the league. It seems both management and players were perfectly content with cheating their way to a World Series title in 2017, and either hoped that their elaborate trash-can-banging schemes would never be exposed or just assumed — correctly, of course — that the soft Manfred wouldn’t dare vacate their title if they were eventually caught.
Most fans in the MLB community hoped for appearances from dozens of players and coaches involved with the scandal at this press conference, complete with heartfelt apologies or at least some simple acknowledgments of wrongdoing. Instead, the Astros continued to catastrophically fumble their public relations attempts. The franchise sent out only two players, second baseman Jose Altuve and third baseman Alex Bregman, for all of thirty seconds before giving Astros’ owner Jim Crane a chance to clear the air and repair the team’s rapidly deteriorating reputation.
Let’s check in with Crane to see how he flawlessly handled this sensitive situation: “Our opinion is [sign-stealing] didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”
Just 45 seconds later, a reporter asked, “Did you say you feel like this didn’t impact the game? And what do you mean by that?” Crane responded, “I didn’t say it didn’t impact the game. It’s hard to determine how it impacted the game, if it impacted the game.”
Thanks, Mr. Crane, for those extraordinarily insightful comments! Unfortunately, it is difficult to expect any signs of regret from the players involved in the cheating when management is still unwilling to admit to, and much less apologize for, wrongdoings of any kind.
The larger issue that this entire affair leaves the MLB with is simple: if punishments are weak, and teams are so obviously unapologetic about breaking rules, other franchises will surely follow suit. In other words, the league has now made cheating a viable baseball strategy. For a commissioner who so vigorously roots out and suspends those despicable PED users, one would think Rob would have the same stance, if not an even harsher one, on systemic, organization-wide cheating scandals.
Although the Astros’ championship will forever have a little asterisk beside it in the hearts of baseball fans across the nation, the official record books regrettably will not reflect this sentiment. Fans can only hope that a cheating epidemic doesn’t descend upon the league in the near future.