Astros finally apologize for 2017 sign-stealing scandal: 'I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans'

After an offseason of silence, the Houston Astros finally addressed the sign-stealing scandal Thursday. Team owner Jim Crane, new manager Dusty Baker, and star players Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman appeared in front of the media to discuss the 2017 sign-stealing scandal.

All four men read prepared PR statements. Following their brief statements, Altuve and Bregman left to go back to the clubhouse. They did not answer questions from the media. After those opening remarks, Baker and Crane stuck around to answer questions. The Astros opened the clubhouse to media later Thursday, and Altuve and Bregman did more than read canned statements.

Team owner Jim Crane spoke first, saying this will never happen again while he’s in charge. Crane placed the blame for the scandal on the front office and leadership, frequently citing commissioner Rob Manfred’s report in saying that the players should not be punished for a failure of leadership.

Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve apologize in brief statements

Bregman spoke, saying he was sorry for what happened. He also asked for forgiveness from baseball fans.

Altuve said he felt remorse for what happened.

After Altuve and Bregman returned to the clubhouse, Crane and Baker stuck around for questions. Crane addressed a number of issues, including how the scandal impacted the 2017 postseason.

Crane also said he did not believe the team used electronic buzzers to steal signs in 2019.

Crane added he doesn’t think he should be held accountable for the actions of his team. He doesn’t think it was necessary to reach out to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team the Astros beat in the 2017 World Series.

Throughout the press conference, Crane said he wasn’t sure whether the sign-stealing actually helped the Astros.

While Baker was at the press conference, he didn’t answer many questions. Baker was the manager of the Washington Nationals in 2017. After two years out of baseball, Baker joined the Astros this offseason.

Baker said he hopes MLB is able to clean up the game.

Making sure both Altuve and Bregman were involved was important. Not only are they two of the best players on the team, but their responses to questions at the team’s FanFest left a lot to be desired. While they were more open Thursday, Altuve and Bregman were still allowed to hide behind brief, prepared statements.

Both Altuve and Bregman have been accused of using electronic buzzers to steal signs in 2019. They have denied those accusations.

The Astros’ players finally speak

Following that presser, players spoke to the media and answered questions about the scandal. Altuve went deeper when asked about the situation, again saying he’s remorseful.

Shortstop Carlos Correa said there was no excuse for what the Astros did.

Correa also pushed back on the idea that players were intimidated by Carlos Beltran. Correa added, “We had a chance to stop it as a team. Everybody.”

Correa continued to condemn the team’s actions, saying what the Astros did in 2017 was “terrible.”

While others associated with the Astros have deflected or deferred to the commissioner’s report when asked whether players used buzzers in 2019, Correa flat-out denied that was the case.

Pitcher Justin Verlander said he wishes he said more when he found out the team was cheating.

George Springer said he feels horrible about the situation.

Yuli Gurriel said everyone was responsible for the sign stealing, not just the people who were punished by the league.

Outfielder Josh Reddick doesn’t feel compelled to apologize to players on opposing teams.

Sign-stealing saga continues to roil baseball

The sign-stealing scandal came to light during the offseason, when former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers — now a member of the Oakland Athletics — went on the record to expose the Astros’ trash-can-banging scheme. Major League Baseball launched an investigation into the Astros based on Fiers’ comments. As a result, the league fined the Astros, docked them multiple draft picks and suspended general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for a year. Both Hinch and Lunhow were fired by Crane hours after that punishment came down.

The fallout from the scandal around the league has been palpable. After months of angrily thinking about the scandal, opposing players and managers unleashed their thoughts on the Astros when pitchers and catchers reported. New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone and catcher Gary Sanchez expressed doubt that the Astros were completely clean in 2019, Masahiro Tanaka said he felt cheated out of a championship in 2017 and Los Angeles Angels starter Andrew Heaney said he hopes the Astros “feel like s---.” One former MLB pitcher even filed a lawsuit against the team.

Given the reaction around the league, the Astros had to come out and say something about the scandal. Whether the team’s apology was enough to satisfy angry and frustrated players remains to be seen.

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