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Former Houston Astros pitcher Charlie Morton is the latest player to go on the record about the infamous Astros sign-stealing scandal, which took place during the entire 2017 season and resulted in the firing of the team’s manager and GM.
Morton, who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays following the 2018 season, sealed the Astros’ 2017 World Series championship by securing the final out. He spoke to the media at Rays Fan Fest on Saturday.
“I was aware of the banging. You could hear the banging. being in the dugout you could hear it. I don’t know when it dawned on me but you knew it was going on,” Morton said.
"Personally, I regret not doing more to stop it. I don’t know what that would have entailed. I think the actions would have been somewhat extreme to stop it. That’s a hypothetical.”
Morton also said:
"I certainly have thought about it a lot because it negatively impacted the game, and people’s perception of the game, the fans, opposing players. And that doesn’t sit well with me. ... Where I was at the time, I don’t know where I was, because what’s wrong is wrong. And I’ll never be absolved of that.”
Morton regrets not doing more to stop the cheating, but he stops short of actually apologizing for it. He even insinuates that he couldn’t have stopped it, because “the actions would have been somewhat extreme to stop it.”
It’s a marginal apology at best, but he and fellow 2017 Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel are the only players to even attempt an apology so far. As pitchers, they had limited involvement in the hitter-centric sign-stealing scheme and didn’t directly benefit from it, so they have the least to apologize for.
We’ve only heard from two current Astros players this offseason, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, who declined to answer any questions about the sign-stealing itself at Astros Fan Fest in January. Astros owner Jim Crane told the media in late January that the team would apologize once they’re all back together for spring training.
"It's a team,” Crane said, via USA Today. “We're going to sit in a room and talk about it and then we're going to come out and address the press — all of them will address the press — either as a group or individually. Quite frankly, we'll apologize for what happened, ask forgiveness and move forward."
Crane said that the apology from Astros players would be a “strong statement,” which would be a 180 degree turn from the smug platitudes Bregman and Altuve were peddling at Astros Fan Fest. One thing’s for sure: if Morton’s “regret” is the level of apology we’ll be getting from the rest of the 2017 Astros, they should save their collective breath.
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