The Astros' Jose Altuve during a press conference in West Palm Beach. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are very sorry for cheating their way to a World Series win, even as their owner bizarrely flip-flopped on whether their cheating changed any games.

Why it matters: The sign-stealing scandal is among the biggest since the steroid era, spilling over into other clubs and giving MLB some nasty publicity.

What they're saying in Florida, where the Astros are beginning spring training:

  • 3B/SS Alex Bregman: “I am really sorry about the choices that were made by our team, the organization and by me."
  • 2B José Altuve: "We had a great team meeting last night and the whole organization and the team feels bad about what happened in 2017. We especially feel remorse for our fans and for the game of baseball."
  • Owner Jim Crane: “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series, and we’ll leave it at that."
  • Less than a minute later, Crane said, "I didn't say it didn't impact the game."

Between the lines: The Astros' flexibility with the rules "was an open secret," the WashPost reports, citing people across all levels of the sport.

  • “The whole industry knows they’ve been cheating their a---- off for three or four years,” a team exec told the Post. “Everybody knew it.”
  • Back in November, the Astros were exposed for sign-stealing by The Athletic, leading to an MLB probe.
  • Earlier this year, MLB fined the Astros $5 million and axed their first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. The GM and manager were suspended by MLB, then fired by the Astros.

The bottom line: The bill has come due for bad behavior, a trend that mirrors the rise of accountability demands across our culture — even as some of the worst actors skate on by.

Go deeper: Inside the Astros' front office's sign stealing operation

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Why it matters: The decision is a loss for Republicans, who had requested an emergency order as the state is expected to begin mailing out its ballots.

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