What they said, what they meant: Astros’ off-season style


It has been a while since the last What They Said – What They Meant. As a reminder, this will be a series of real-world quotes from mlb.com related to your Houston Astros followed by what the speaker really meant.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch on not putting in ace Gerrit Cole in the seventh inning of the seventh game of the World Series.

  • What he said. “I wasn’t going to pitch him unless we were going to win the World Series and have a lead. He was going to help us win. He was available, and I felt it was a game that he was going to come in had we tied it or taken the lead. He was going to close the game in the ninth after I brought Osuna in, had we kept the lead.”
  • What he meant. “I’m hoping you don’t notice that I didn’t use him when we had the lead entering the seventh, but how could I take Zack Greinke out tossing a one hitter. Let’s face it, if I started the seventh with Cole and he gave up runs y’all would be jumping on me like you did when I used Justin Verlander in relief against the Red Sox in 2017. I couldn’t win and in the end we didn’t win.”

Astros reliever Will Harris, who was brought in the game and gave up a 2 run homer to flip the game.

  • What he said. “I mean, it’s every reliever’s nightmare. I think I’ll be better for it when I wake up tomorrow. Just today was a bad day.”
  • What he meant. “Growing up you always dream about making the big play to win the World Series. You never dream about making the play that loses the World Series.”

Basically Former Astros’ Pitcher Gerrit Cole in his prepared message to the Houston fans after the World Series loss.

  • What he said – “Houston, last night was a tough one for us and the heartbreak hasn’t gotten any easier today. Before I became an Astro I didn’t know much about Houston, but after just two years you have made it feel like home. The Astros organization has been such a pleasure to play for, and the Cranes are indeed special people and great owners. I’ve met lifelong friends on the team and in the community and learned a little about pitching along the way. … Thank you for making us better people and better players. This was a great season. We have a lot to be proud of.”
  • What he meant – “Buh-bye.”

Astros ace Justin Verlander, who barely lost the Cy Young in 2012, 2016 and 2018 on winning it this time around.

  • What he said. “It was starting to become disappointing every time I came so close and it just didn’t happen. I put up some historic numbers in the history of baseball [in ‘18], and every time somebody had done something similar, they had won the Cy Young. Is it meant to be for me to win another one? I don’t want to call [winning a second] a relief, because it wasn’t. It just put things in perspective and made it all the better, all the more exciting for me and my family.”
  • What he meant. “Fans may not understand how a guy set for life money-wise and playing a kids game for a living could be disappointed in anything. But that is the kind of competitor I am. You should see me play Scrabble.”

Cole on being nudged out by his teammate for the Cy Young….

  • What he said. “Justin Verlander is a stud. It was a pleasure to run alongside him this summer. Congratulations.”
  • What he meant. “Now that he is not likely to be my teammate – they can put him out to stud.”

Hinch on Yordan Alvarez winning the Rookie of the Year.

  • What he said. “What an incredible year and recognition for Alvarez. He did everything we could have asked and more. His dynamic presence on our team is undeniable. I’m proud of how he handled his transition to the big leagues, his immediate success, all the attention, and ultimately his actions as a teammate. A great and well-deserved honor.”
  • What he meant. “I felt like a fan watching this kid. He was amazing. We may never see another rookie this dominating over only half a season.”

Astros former Assistant GM Brandon Taubman during the Astros celebration after beating the Yanks in the ALCS (directed towards female reporters).

  • What he said. “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—— glad we got Osuna!”
  • What he meant. “Maybe I am not so smart after swigging champagne in large portions.”

The Astros’ kneejerk of a press release in defense of Taubman.

  • What they said. “The story posted by Sports Illustrated is misleading and completely irresponsible. An Astros player was being asked questions about a difficult outing. Our executive was supporting the player during a difficult time. … We are extremely disappointed in Sports Illustrated’s attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.”
  • What they meant. “Maybe we are not so smart after swigging champagne in large portions.”

Taubman after it was obvious that SI had not fabricated the story.

  • What he said. “This past Saturday, during our clubhouse celebration, I used inappropriate language for which I am deeply sorry and embarrassed. In retrospect, I realized that my comments were unprofessional and inappropriate. My over-exuberance in support of a player has been misinterpreted as a demonstration of a regressive attitude about an important social issue. Those that know me know that I am a progressive and charitable member of the community, and a loving and committed husband and father. I hope that those who do not know me understand that the Sports Illustrated article does not reflect who I am or my values. I am sorry if anyone was offended by my actions.”
  • What he meant. “I feel my golden ticket slipping away.”

Former Astros consultant and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan discussing separating from the Astros right after his son Reid was demoted from the Astros club president.

  • What he said. “I will not be back with the club and will leave it at that.”
  • What he meant. “I came this close to going all Robin Ventura on someone.”

Jim Crane on his son being put on the executive team at the same time Reid Ryan was being demoted.

  • What he said. “It’s a family issue. I have an older son that’s very good, very bright, and has got some experience but he hasn’t been around it, and I want to start teaching him. I’ve been working a long time, and very hard a long time, and I have other stuff, and so he’s just coming in to lend a hand.”
  • What he meant. “I own this damn team and if I want my 90-year-old Aunt Sarah to dance on top of the dugouts and throw T-shirts to the fans – I will.”

The Astros after a story in the Athletic quoted former Astro Mike Fiers and other former Astros as saying they used electronic means to steal signs in 2017.

  • What they said. “Regarding the story posted by The Athletic earlier today, the Houston Astros organization has begun an investigation in cooperation with Major League Baseball. It would not be appropriate to comment further on this matter at this time.”
  • What they meant. “We make better statements when we haven’t been drinking and after we’ve been dressed down by major league baseball”.

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow on the cheating allegations.

  • What he said. “Teams are competing with one another and everybody is trying to find an edge. But we all have to follow the rules and the rules are set by Major League Baseball. We all follow them, we agree to follow them and if you don’t there are ramifications to that. We want to follow the rules and we want to compete and win and that’s what every other club does as well.”
  • What he meant. “I said ‘we want to follow the rules’ – not that we succeeded in following the rules.”

Hinch on the cheating scandal.

  • What he said. “{crickets}
  • What he meant. “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.”

Bonus quote: MLB on the scandal…

What they said. “Beginning in the 2017 season, numerous Clubs expressed general concerns that other Clubs were stealing their signs. As a result of those concerns, and after receiving extensive input from the General Managers, we issued a revised policy on sign stealing prior to the 2019 season. We also put in place detailed protocols and procedures to provide comfort to Clubs that other Clubs were not using video during the game to decode and steal signs. After we review this new information, we will determine any necessary next steps.”

What they meant…..your turn to interpret …..

78 comments on “What they said, what they meant: Astros’ off-season style

  1. What MLB meant to say:
    The Astros and their fans might want to head for the bomb shelter. Analytical minds might want to get in a resume to the Astros front office before there isn’t one to accept it.

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  2. What the Oakland Athletics said: Based on the season, Matt Chapman is our team MVP. We can’t afford to give him a raise.
    What the Athletics meant to say: Based on Mike Fiers’ offseason, he has won the 2020 season MVP and we have given him a 1 year $50 million extension.

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      • Before the Colt 45’s came to be, I was a Dodgers fan, until they moved to LA.
        Then I just became a Koufax/Drysdale fan. I remember the red-haired Fairley fairly well.

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  3. Dan, there are probably not a lot of WHA fans left, but I noticed that Don Larway passed away this month in Houston.
    Don played for the Aeros and a number of minor league teams, but never made it to the NHL. Don was an enforcer for the Aeros, if I remember correctly. He and Gordie Howe were the only Aeros I ever met.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I remember – Mark and Marty Howe – I think their goalie was named Graham something
      When I was a teen I worked for a short lived fast food place called Herfys that sponsored the Aeros. One day they did a TV commercial with some of the Aeros (not Gordy) and I got to make the burgers used and was in the fuzzy background of a couple scenes.
      In every Herfys there was a team picture of the Aeros on skates on the wall holding up their burgers for the cameras. What made this amusing is that this was taken post practice and if you looked closely there was not a tooth among them.

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  4. Evidently an executive in the front office emailed some of our own scouts and asked about “stealing signs”. I have no idea how he got this info, but that’s what Ken Rosenthal wrote in the Athletic today. The sender of the email and the recipient were blacked out.
    I can not tell you how angry I will be if Hinch is let go because of this….AND where is the evidence that Mike Fires has?????? GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR😠😠

    Liked by 1 person

    • When people leave us who have devoted their lives to others it is a great loss to the world, but there is great joy in heaven as they head home.
      It was such a shock when Roberto died 47 years ago. What a great player and a better man.
      His wife seems as big hearted as he was. What a blessing to the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. DanP: Just passing along information and not as a complaint. I made an extensive reply to your post and it is nowhere to be found. However, I make a comment about hockey a little later and it is posted. Not sure if there is a limit to characters allowed by WordPress or what but some comments just disappear.

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  6. Here is what I think will be happening:
    The owners meetings starts in two days. The freeze on info about the Astros on MLB.com means the case is quickly being made and is going to be discussed by the owners at these meetings. The owners run this entire thing and by the end of these meetings we will know the fate of the Astros as an organization and their individual position-holders.
    MLB wants this out in the open and dealt with before the Winter Meetings start in December.
    The Astros need this out in the open and dealt with by the time the Winter Meetings start, because they need to figure out who is calling the shots at those meetings. They also will have to be looking at hiring new people and the Winter Meetings is when the baseball people come together by the thousands.
    It is not what we wanted. It is not what we ever expected. But this is either a giant hoax or a giant nightmare. Whatever it is, it is going to be out in the open by this time next week.
    Baseball will not tolerate this thing dragging out over the December Winter Meetings.
    Hold on to your chairs and your fellow fans. This probably is going to be ugly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It would be a good guess that the emails from Exec Kevin Golstein to the scouts soliciting help on the sign stealing was likely leaked by a scout and probably a scout who was let go a year ago.

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    • I like your train of thought but I’m not sure this will wrap up as quickly as we all hope. We have no idea who else MLB will talk to or what directions their investigation is leading. In less than a week we’ve already got emails from execs. That is 1 step from Luhnow and 2 steps from ownership. A lot of people around baseball are enjoying this drip, drip, drip of negative publicity falling on Crane and Luhnow and would like to see it continue for weeks.

      Liked by 2 people

      • But I do think MLB itself will not want this to drift on – they will want it quick – which doesn’t mean it won’t be fatal to a number of careers

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      • Mike, we may only have e-mails from Goldstein, because that is what has been leaked to us. There is probably a lot more that the investigators have found out that hasn’t been leaked.

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  7. On a related note: Why would anyone negotiate with the Astros right now? Luhnow and his advisors could all be replaced, any player could face being suspended, even Crane could be bumped out by the rest of the ownership group. Other teams will most likely let the Astros stew in their own juices until this whole thing is resolved. They will wait for the knife to hit the floor before trying to pick it up.

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  8. I’m curious about one thing. We see the video and hear the banging of the can or whatever. What we don’t see is the person/s banging the can or other means of alerting the batter. And as for the bullpen coach or whomever signaling from right center field how in the world can a guy in that short of time relay that to a hitter who’s getting ready for the pitch so he knows what’s coming. The time between the catcher putting down the sign and the pitcher releasing the ball is only a couple of seconds. Maybe the “Flash” is playing for us. It seems way too far fetched but then again, what do us average fans know.
    But if we were trying to do that then let the chips fall where they may, but I have a hard time believing that it made a difference. As I and another pointed out during the Yankee series, Judge and another player were looking at an IPAD and discussing something. As soon as they realized a camera was upon them they put it away. What were they doing?
    One more comment here. As we watch these games, the catcher almost always shifts his position at the last minute to where he wants the ball to be thrown. It would make more sense to me to glance back at the catcher via peripheral vision or just taking a peek to see where he’s set up than all of this mumbo jumbo electronic stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When a runner reaches base the sequence of signs flashed by the catcher changes. It’s basically a combination of runner on x base and y outs means use z number from the catcher. Depending on the pitcher, this allows the catcher to make it tough to know what he is calling for. When no one is on base they simplify greatly. As such, after a few hitters it’s easy to see from the cf camera view what the catcher wants.

      Something that concerns me is The Mitchell Report. The report had only a portion of the league named because only a few teams had direct evidence providing avenues of investigation. I think MLB has made a conscious decision that the Astros are a perfect scapegoat. Their front office is tone deaf and unlikable. They pull the worst WS ratings despite running out major starpower in JV, Cole, Altuve, Springer, Bregman, Correa, etc. IMO we’re about to get hammered for something MLB knew was occurring and chose to ignore. That doesn’t excuse it – an org that claims to be smarter than everyone else in the room should know better.

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    • Additionally, the television of the game is DELAYED by 13 or so seconds! The pitch has usually already been thrown by the time the catcher is shown flashing the signs on television. Listen to the game on the radio and the television and one can easily see the delay. There are so many holes in the argument.

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  9. The quote about MLB is a trick question. Only a portion is on here. This is the balance of the quote: “we will determine any necessary next steps based upon the location of said club. We will not punish the Yankees nor Red Sox because the were caught red handed and suffered the “better not do that again” fine. The LA area clubs will be exempt because we say so. The rest in what we call “fly over” country will be punished the hardest. They think they can be The Globetrotters but they are the Generals or Wrens whose only purpose is to lose to the East Coast teams.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Expected story lines for this week….
    – Jeff Luhnow convinces Santa to fire the elves and outsource toy making to China
    – Jim Crane tells Craig Biggio to stop free loading and pay for those seats behind home plate
    – Luhnow’s minor league plan includes players paying for bus rides and payroll deduct for all baseballs lost due to home runs
    – MLB finds that ball boys supplied to opposing teams at Minute Maid Park are actually ex-CIA midgets, who are wired for sound and video
    – Astros accused of making payments to opposing players in exchange for signs being used in upcoming series
    – Astros executive sent email to scouts requesting assistance in torturing kittens and puppies
    – Astros supplied sunflower seeds to opponents that included ground up sleeping pills
    – Astros requested assistance from Ukrainian officials for surveillance of opposing teams

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    • Sorry, Dan. I told you that when I saw the plan and it included the Sugarland Skeeters suddenly being an MILB team, that I had some idea that this might have been the reason for the Ryan/Astros breakup.
      I will say this: With 42 MILB locations being abandoned, there would be no shortage of pissed off team owners or towns who would make it their business to find out who was behind this plan and get that information out there. Since most of them are in the Northeast, that would explain the NYDN being the news outlet who did the investigative work and report this.

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  11. The Houston Astros have to be the least liked professional sports team in America right now. Regardless of the outcome of these investigations, Luhnow could end up being too big a burden to hang on to.

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      • I might have over stated my case but I don’t think there is a lot of love for Crane and the drama his Astros seem to create. His bid to buy the Cubs fell through because it was under funded (too much debt), his 1st bid for the Astros fell through because the economy tanked and he was out of cash. When he did ultimately buy the Astros he had to accept the move to the A.L. which affected the teams value for at least a few years. He is a “poor” owner with a track record for creating drama. Not a popular combination.

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    • This is not an extension. It is a revision of his 2020 deal with a small raise and the opportunity to opt out of the arbitration years of his contract. If he chooses, he can declare himself a free agent at the end of 2020.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I actually had to look up the definition of codicil. it means: noun, a person having been to college so long ago they cannot remember definitions.

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      • I think I first heard the word in the movie Animal House

        Greg: What do you intend to do sir? Delta’s already on probation.
        Dean Wormer: They are?
        Greg: Yes, sir.
        Dean Wormer: Oh. Then as of this moment, they’re on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!
        Greg: Double Secret Probation, Sir?
        Dean Wormer: There is a little-known codicil in the Faber College constitution which gives the dean unlimited power to preserve order in time of campus emergency. Find me a way to revoke Delta’s charter. You live next door. Put Neidermeyer on it. He’s a sneaky little $$%%$, just like you, right? [Greg nods] The time has come for someone to put their foot down. And that foot is me.

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  12. You know why I’m so dang mad about this sign stealing crap?
    I’m mad because someone decided to do something to try and “game the system” to give this team an edge. They didn’t NEED an edge, they are (were) very good and didn’t need any help, but someone decided they would push the envelope and now we are despised by every team in MLB. I’m angry because I LOVE this team. I’ve loved them for 50yrs….through the ugly, ugly, ugly years.
    I cant imagine how those guys feel….how they’ve seen EVERY SINGLE AWFUL article about how they “cheated”, and hear sports writers say they should give back their rings, and pull the World Series pennant down because they didn’t earn it. I’m angry because I’m a life long fan of this team and I feel like I’ve been capped on by someone I don’t know, and never want to know. I’m angry, I’m hurt, and I’m not sure how to comfort myself right now.
    THERE….I’ve said it, I’ve let you inside of my heart. I’m so sad I don’t know what to do. Becky

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are doing something, Becky. You are past the denial stage and into the anger stage. What you are doing is a good thing. You are tackling your part of our problem. It is our problem.
      Now, we are going to make it through this. You are whipping cancer. This Astros thing is small potatoes compared to that.
      There are going to be some changes, But the luxury tax situation was going to cause some changes anyway.
      I think the Astros are going to be good again this season and make you proud.
      Tomorrow, early, I take my gal to the hospital for surgery to try and fix the pain she has been experiencing for 18 months. Today, I laundered my smart phone so I have less communication. But, hell, I went more than 60 years without carrying a phone around, so I will go old school and wait till I find a telephone or a computer.
      Hope to chat with you all tomorrow night with good news.
      Hang in there with the happy thought that somebody else has Jonathan Villarerror on their team.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. How about a virtual hug Becky? I think we all feel pretty disgusted, downtrodden, and just plain PO’d. We’ll get through this too as the the saying goes, “and this shall pass”.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I personally think this sign stealing is nothing without direct evidence. (Hearing Banging or Whistles doesn’t count). However calling ladies liars is BIG. The second makes the first appear worse in my mind. But it is off season. No agent is talking collusion yet. No big signings or trades yet. This will be a fine and loss of a draft pick or International signing or something. These absurd comments will never happen. No loss of title nor firing of entire front office nor a new owner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 45, but I’m not sure how much direct evidence is required for MLB. It is not a court of law…….at least we have not gotten that far down the road yet. But we do have the Taubman incident, we do have the Goldstein email, we do have the Fiers allegations along with some other nameless guys too. I see the owners protecting the owners and I see the players association protecting the players. So if the MLB powers to be decide to come down on the Astros, I’m thinking Luhnow and or Hinch take the heat.

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    • I’m with ac45 here. I hear things like vacating the title and Crane being forced to sell the team. These are extreme measures that I don’t recall ever happening in MLB and would surely bring litigation if such actions were taken based on hearsay. If the inquiry is about sign stealing, Taubman’s not the issue and he’s gone. Much of the sign-stealing suspicions always revolved around Cora and Beltran, and they too are long gone. Look, if the Astros used electronic devices to steal signs in a manner against the rules, then fine, punish away, but I can’t see it being Armageddon.

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      • Great points. The chance of MLB forcing a change is very, very small but it has happened before. In the early 1990s Tom Monohan was forced to sell the Tigers after he defrauded – oops, I mean “defunded” the team to the tune of about 20 million dollars. It was so bad that the players paychecks actually bounced.
        If Crane ordered the cheating he could be suspended from active ownership (ala George Steinbrenner for gambling) or forced out via morals clause violations. The chance of it happening is incredibly small but it could in fact happen.

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  15. Being realistic, it doesn’t really matter now to the MLB if the Astros did anything or not. They have to sanction us because the media crucifixion squad is screaming ‘crucify them’. The question isn’t whether we get sanctioned any more, it is simply when and what. It has nothing to do with reality -only perception – and media money.

    I think back to the Cardinals’ ‘hacking’ case a few years ago. I suspect this time they will be a lot more severe – because the media wasn’t even pushing that one. The one thing the MLB will NOT do is let this go any further than the Astros. We are the scapegoat. The media doesn’t care about destroying any other team or its fan base.

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  16. What he [Commissioner Manfred] says 1 : “I do not believe the sign-stealing issues in MLB extend beyond the Houston Astros.”

    What he means: “The Astros are the perfect scapegoat.”

    What he [Commissioner Manfred] says 2 : ” I have the authority to levy significant punishments on the Astros based on the league’s investigation”.

    What he means: “Poor suckers! But it’s about time someone taught you clingers and deplorables out there in Flyover country a thing or two!”

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  17. My thought is that they will not take our title away, but it will placate the Yanks, Red Sox, Dodgers to have an asterisk next to this title in their minds and in every article written about this for the rest of our lives.
    They will not force Jim Crane out – the owners have control over this through Manfred and they don’t want to risk someone coming up later with goods on them and getting forced out due to this precedent.
    But they will want blood and I think someone or ones will lose their jobs over this (whether it is proved or not – since that is how the world works these days) and I think both Luhnow and Hinch are in danger.

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  18. I had forgotten about one other issue until I watched PTI just now. They sure beat up on Luhnow moments ago for allegedly being the architect of that plan to do away with 26% of the minor league clubs in the US. Now whether it was Luhnow, Manfred or someone else, our GM is taking all the blame for capping minor league ball players at 150 per club. Now why would anyone embrace that concept other than a wealthy ML organization looking to make even more money? If Luhnow is involved in this particular effort, then he’s flat out lost track of the importance of public relations. If this is his idea, I don’t want him anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This is so sickening I don’t even know what to say.
    At this point if Luhnow and Hinch are behind this then I want them gone.
    I’ve always been proud to be an Astros fan. Today I’m not.

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  20. I got a call from two of my grandsons yesterday, both of them are excellent baseball players. My 13 yr old Tucker is on a traveling team, he’s a pitcher and plays 2nd base. My 10yrs old Tate is a catcher. That’s all he’s ever wanted to do, and he’s a dang good catcher. Both of them called me and asked “GG is this true about the Astros”? My heart sank, when I had to tell them it was true. Both of them asked me why….and I could not answer their question. Their mother drove them to Houston (they live in Memphis) so they could watch the World Series with us. They are HUGE Astros fans, we took them to Minute Maid so they could tour the park and go to the team store. I got off the phone and cried.
    THIS is why I can’t understand the why the team did this. How do I try to make these two little boys understand their hero’S didn’t do anything wrong?
    I’m so sad for our players…..every team they will play will call them *cheaters*.
    Will ANYONE want to come here to play?? It makes me sick to my stomach.

    Old Pro….we are all praying for your wife AND you. Let us know when you can how her surgery went. Becky

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  21. When I was in the 9th grade our history teacher was “overweight.” I had another teach use him as an example of how deductive reasoning is faulty. 1. Mr. Pool is fat. 2. Elephants are fat. 3. Therefore Mr. Pool is an elephant.

    I read the story about the email. My first question is IF these are to be relayed to the team, for what reason do you need to “log” the info. My second reason is does the email contain any information that would be used during the game. And thirdly, is it against the rules to look at video, etc of a previous game to determine what you will do in the next game or series.

    Now, I don’t doubt there is going to be a severe penalty, but from the article, I see nothing that talks about doing anything that affects the game in progress. I put it in there with a corked bat at worst.

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  22. Becky, as hard as it is to believe it right now, there is no proof of wrong doing at this point. Now if I had to guess, there is proof of some sort in the middle of all the allegations, of which new ones keep appearing daily. I just read that the Astros were putting electric sensors on our hitters, disguised as bandages. If any of this stuff is true, maybe we had a cheat cave alongside the nerd cave.

    Like

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