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AJ Hinch calls question of if 2017 Astros' title is tainted 'fair': 'We opened that door'

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Former Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch believes it’s fair to ask if his team’s 2017 World Series victory is tainted by the sign-stealing scandal that rocked the sport and resulted in his dismissal.

“It’s a fair question,” Hinch said in an excerpt of his interview with MLB Network’s Tom Verducci released Thursday night. “And I think everyone’s going to have to draw their own conclusion.”

An MLB investigation detailed the Astros’ improper use of technology to steal signs and transmit that information to their batters during the 2017 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a one-year ban to Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow as part of the organization’s punishment. They were let go by the team an hour later.

Hinch said he hopes in time “it’s proven that [the championship] wasn’t” tainted based on the talents on the Astros and their impressive careers as a whole.

“Unfortunately, we opened that door as a group. And that question, it may never be answered, we may never know.”

Hinch said in the interview he can’t pinpoint the advantages it gave his team and that he can’t predict what would have happened in the alternative timeline where the Astros don’t steal signs.

The manager joined the team in 2015 and disliked the scheme so much he twice damaged the TV monitor used in the tunnel to relay signs, per MLB’s report. Yet he never put a stop to it. He accepted blame in a statement he released the day of the report, saying it was his responsibility to stop it and he “failed.”

In this Dec. 10, 2019, file photo, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch speaks during the Major League Baseball winter meetings, in San Diego. Houston  manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for the entire season Monday, Jan. 13, 2020,  and the team was fined $5 million for sign-stealing by the team in 2017 and 2018 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the discipline and strongly hinted that current Boston manager Alex Cora — the Astros bench coach in 2017 — will face punishment later. Manfred said Cora developed the sign-stealing system used by the Astros. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
AJ Hinch addressed the sign-stealing scandal that resulted in his firing. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

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