Houston Astros owner Jim Crane told reporters at a press conference Thursday that he didn’t believe the team’s illicit sign-stealing scheme that operated across the 2017 and 2018 seasons had a direct impact on the games they played.
The club organized the press conference on the second day of spring training to address the scandal that forced the firings of manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow and compelled MLB to hand down fines on and strip draft picks from the organization.
“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” Crane said. “We had a good team, we won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”
A few minutes later, however, Crane backtracked on his previous statement.
“I didn’t say it didn’t impact the game,” Crane said. “Basically, as the commissioner said in his report, he’s not going to go backwards. It’s hard to determine how it impacted the game, if it impacted the game, and that’s how we’re going to leave it.”
The Astros’ owner went on to say that the ability “to determine the effect [of the scheme] and the cause is, in my opinion, almost impossible.” He also mentioned that he didn’t “feel it necessary to reach out to the Dodgers” and apologize for the scandal that played a role in their title-winning 2017 season that culminated with a win over Los Angeles in the World Series.
“We’re apologizing that we broke the rules,” Crane said, in lieu of apologizing for the effect the scandal had on other teams. In reference to the scheme, he said “it could possibly [affect the game], it could possibly not.”
But mitigating the effect the scheme raises another question: If it didn’t affect the game, why did the Astros do it? When asked if he should’ve been held responsible like Luhnow and Hinch were, Crane referred to commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the MLB investigation of the scheme.
“Clearly, the report states that I didn’t know about,” Crane said. “Had I known about it, I certainly would’ve done something about it. I did hire Jeff and I think Jeff did a lot of great things for the organization over the years. No, I don’t think I should be held accountable. I’m here to correct it and I’m here to take this team forward…it won’t happen again on my watch.”
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