Feb 13, 2020 - Sports

The Astros' apology tour

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

Go deeper

The MLB's problems extend far beyond Houston's cheating scandal

The Astros' second baseman José Altuve during a press conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Astros had three months to craft a thoughtful apology for the team's sign-stealing scandal. Instead, José Altuve and Alex Bregman spoke for a combined 90 seconds — and owner Jim Crane questioned whether sign-stealing even helped his team win games.

The big picture: While baseball grapples with the fallout, don't lose sight of the many other problems Major League Baseball faces as commissioner Rob Manfred enters his sixth season at the helm.

Go deeperArrowFeb 14, 2020 - Sports

MLB's Rob Manfred is latest villain in Astros' cheating scandal

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's decision to grant Astros players immunity in exchange for confessions about their sign-stealing scheme has undermined his reputation — and he only made himself look worse on Sunday.

The interview: In a 45-minute conversation with ESPN, Manfred asserted that public shame was punishment enough for the Astros. He also called the World Series trophy "just a piece of metal" and said that taking a title away from Houston "seems like a futile act."

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Sports

The murky future of in-game video in the MLB

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In the wake of the Astros scandal, Major League Baseball must decide how best to police in-game clubhouse video — and it has until Opening Day to announce any rule changes.

Why it matters: Players have grown accustomed to (legally) using technology during games, with hitters and pitchers often going into the clubhouse between innings to study video of their previous at-bats and make adjustments.

Go deeperArrowMar 6, 2020 - Sports