What must be said


I was thinking about this whole “cheating” situation with the Astros and one of the things that came to mind was how my friends and I would play outside back in the day. It didn’t matter whether we were playing touch football on Terry Brown’s side yard or playing some one on one on David Nees’ basket or even playing some hot box in our back yard. We mostly played fair. So fair that we never had a third-party ump or ref. We called the fouls, safe/outs and catch/no catch ourselves. Sure, there were disagreements and arguments, but they were normally settled quickly and the disagreements were because both sides really thought they were right on bang-bang plays. We did not think about cheating to win. We won because we did something better than the opponent that day.

There are a lot of things that bother me about this whole cheating scandal, but probably the biggest piece was how unnecessary this was. This version of the Astros was one of the most talented teams I’ve ever seen. They did not need to do this to be an excellent, winning team. And in fact, many of us wonder if doing this helped or hindered them.

It is funny, but there has been obvious cheating going on right in front of our eyes for years that never was pointed out. How many times over the seasons did players act like they made a tag that they knew they did not make? Or act like they caught a ball that they knew hit short of their glove? Or acted like they were hit by a pitch that they knew did not hit them? This is and has been cheating and was accepted as gamesmanship, but has been fortunately undercut by the proliferation of instant replay.

At this point, I don’t care if our team was or was not the only one performing electronic sign stealing. I don’t care that this punishment may be a bit unfair because we were trying to “compete” with other teams in electronic espionage. I just care that the true joy that I felt on Nov. 1st, 2017 has been stolen from me. After the Rockets won their titles I had to live with the quasi-asterisk of “You only won because Michael Jordan retired”. Now I have to live with “You only won because your team is a bunch of cheaters.” After waiting for a title for 52 years (in my case) that is grossly unfair. And it is the fault of the Astros.

Speaking of fault, the guys in charge are taking it in the neck because of the old rule that they knew or should have known this was occurring on their watch.  I wish we were not losing these two men, they were very good at their jobs, but I accept that this was the only way the team could move forward. But I don’t give MLB or Jim Crane a free pass on this.

I recently read the excellent book Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof about the Black Sox scandal of 1919. There is no doubt that the players involved did the wrong thing in even entertaining the thought of throwing World Series games for money. But it is also true that the “culture” of baseball and especially that of their owner, Charles Comiskey was complicit in what happened. Baseball was set up to chain the players to a single team and the team owners abused the system by going take it or leave it with the players. Comiskey significantly underpaid his players even versus the other owners and had his henchmen go out and strong arm the players, even lying to Shoeless Joe Jackson (who could not read) about what was in the contract he signed. It was no surprise that the players (who knew that other players had thrown games for money before them and were unpunished) would want a single big payday that they felt they had earned and had been denied them. Obviously, the culture today is not one of underpay. But it seems to have been one of win at all cost and to me that does not stop at the GM, but also should extend to the owner as far as “knew or should have known”.

It would be naïve to think that what happened in the suspension and firing of AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow was not completely orchestrated between MLB and Jim Crane. They undoubtedly negotiated the final scenario out that allowed MLB to hand down a big punishment to show how pristine they are and also allowed Jim Crane to go beyond that to show how pristine he and his organization is (or will be).  Of course, the problem Crane has now is that he has only removed 2 people from his organization involved in this controversy. He still has players, coaches and front office personnel that were here during that time and undoubtedly ones who participated or knew what had happened. How will he deal with that, especially with in-house openings?

Did the Astros deserve the punishment they were given? Yes they did. Did Hinch and Luhnow deserve the punishments they were given? Yes they did. But baseball, who gave a small slap on the wrist to the Red Sox and Yankees for stealing signs back in 2017 should have whacked those teams at the time. They also better not pretend that this encompasses all the cheating that has occurred over the last few years. Alex Cora should be punished, all teams should be investigated and only after they have put equal effort into this that they put into the Astros investigation should they rest and pat themselves on the back.

I will continue to be a fan of baseball and of the “new” Astros. I will not allow the actions of a few individuals steal that joy from me. Will I have a little more cynical approach in my thoughts and my writings? Probably.

I’ve known for decades that I can’t go back to the days of self-policing sports in the front yard. But today I wish I could.

136 comments on “What must be said

  1. I thought I read that the Astros cheating continued into 2018. If that is the case, I would rather not have Joe Espada manage this team. I am in favor of bringing in a new GM immediately from outside and have him hire a manager from outside.
    There isn’t a 500 page playbook for baseball players to learn in the next 30 days. A new manager comes in and takes over a team with the highest projected WAR in Baseball and returns every starting position player on the team that led baseball in BA/OBP/SLG and OPS. He gets the Cy Young winner to anchor his pitching staff.
    Let’s restart this thing with fresh minds and reputations with new people who don’t owe baseball an apology.
    I think Cora will be given a big suspension and then fired.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I might agree with you (wrote the same yesterday), I think the Astros will retain Espada, and hire Pete Putila from in-house as GM. Luhnow put together a lot of smart minds, and keeping the solid part of our organization together I think is a better plan. Someone who can appreciate these amazing prospects, Putila has been right in the middle of drafts and scouting.

      What I continue to see, Op, is it doesn’t matter if we fire Taubman, it’s never going to be enough. Fire Luhnow Hinch, haters are still going to say it’s not enough! The SI reporter who “felt threatened” was apoogized to by PR people. Oh, that wasn’t enough, she wanted it to be a personal apology.

      Sign stealing since a looong time ago. I’m tired of other fanbases on their high horses. They are simply uninformed about how pervasive their own teams “cheated.” For example, Becky, you are going to be able to tell your family very soon, the Rangers are JUST AS GUILTY. If other teams are doing it, I ask you: how bad is it? reading some fans, it’s worse than murder. Pfft, I’m not buying it.

      What I see is only one organization who has had to get up and admit this. Now, where’s the integrity of other teams? There’s a code, just like police covering their partners backs, players don’t rat out other teams for stuff they are doing themselves. But once Taubman happened, it was a green light for media to smear this team. Right or wrong, they have not applied the same investigation of their own teams. It makes me even more of a supporter. Astros against the world? So be it.

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      • I’m not advocating that Espada or Putila be dismissed. I’m advocating that they not be promoted. I’m advocating that the Astros hire from outside people who will not have to carry the stigma of having been a part of the past as bosses..
        I’m advocating bringing in managers who others will have no problems doing business with.

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      • Then by that logic Crane should be gone.

        I mean, do you actually believe he told Luhnow to “knock it off” after the memo on Sept. 15? Or, that Luhnow actually disobeyed a direct order?

        We had actual proof other teams were spying on us, and we were LEVELING the playing field.

        I’m advocating everybody “get real.” And not allow this uneven stigma to persist. Just because someone accuses us, doesn’t make their opinion any more valid. And just because we support our team doesn’t mean we advocating cheating. It’s muddy water, but that’s the pond we’re swimming in.

        Not picking on you either. I think we’re all a little frazzled, trying to process half-truths and new info daily.

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      • No, by my logic Crane would not be gone. That is you misinterpreting my logic.
        I’m not frazzled. I’m not the one ranting about other teams not getting penalized. Mike Fiers did not rat out other teams. He ratted out our team.
        Turns out they did the deed and now they are paying for it.
        I have called for changes at the top from the very beginning. And that is what I continue to do right now. That shows level-headedness, not frazzle.
        It does not seem to be good business to promote guys who were part of a now-tainted system to take over the system. It is time to bring in trusted people to take over the front office and the team so that the other 29 organizations say to themselves “This is new and I’m ready to do business with them, because they cared enough to bring in people I feel comfortable doing business with”.
        That is my logic. It is not the result of panic.

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      • It doesn’t matter if we fire Taubman. It’s never going to be enough. Fire Hinch and Luhnow and the haters are still going to say it’s not enough. I get your point, but our organization has created for itself a heck of a credibility problem. These initial decisions are certainly the first of what will be a long term effort to return credibility and integrity to the brand. It is business. And it s the right way to do business today.

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  2. Dan, I couldn’t agree more.
    You have addressed my one complaint and that is all teams should be investigated not just one team made an example of.
    I also totally agree with OP. Start over. Replace Hinch and Luhnow from the outside.

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  3. Of course we could go outside and choose someone to come lead us and then 2 months later the organization he came from is being punished also. This whole thing is a slippery slope all around.

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  4. I’ve been away from the blog for some time but have tried to keep up with the group. Hiring a manager from the outside seems like the most immediate need with Spring training right around the corner. Just off the top of my head a couple of guys who would seem to be completely untainted would be Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker. They would have immediate respect in the clubhouse and would not have to learn on the job. There may be others who would be attractive as well. Coax Bruce Bochy out of retirement. The GM hire seems a bit more complex and should be more measured. Changing the culture seems like a necessity but the success the Astros have enjoyed in scouting and player acquisition has to be maintained. Finding the right guy may be tough and I hope Crane doesn’t act hastily. This is still a terrific group of players committed to this season. Springer, Brantley, Reddick, Guriel may all be gone in 2021 but this team can and should compete hard in 2020 if for no ohter reason to vindicate themselves as champions without blemish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Last thing I want is an old school baseball guy running the franchise. The game has changed. That’d be the biggest mistake Crane could make

      Especially don’t want Baker, unless everyone is ok with him basically destroying our pitching staff. Two words…. Mark Prior.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been reading, of course, in my downtime. Maybe I’m not a very moral person, and strictly speaking, I don’t deny that. But to me, firing AJ Hinch is outside the bounds. This was cooked up by others, so where is the penalty for all the perps? Like other fans, I’m thinking the Astros can’t be alone in this. I am a believer, but again I say, look at the church. Moral turpitude of the highest order – child abuse – committed at the highest levels. The penalty? Being quietly exported to another precinct to do the same. At the very least, the Judge of all the earth must marvel at the irony.

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  6. Comment today from that noted Baseball Historian, Geraldo Rivera. We might as well get used to people saying ignorant things because it will be coming time and again.

    “#AstrosCheat is a giant story. Think not just of #WorldSeriesTainted but of all the individual statistics; the pitchers who did not get that crucial strikeout; the hitters who got hits they didn’t deserve. Aside from pennants and World Series banners, think of effect on careers.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I noticed the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers letting their whole rosters go and re-signing them for 1/2 their salaries due to how bad the Astros cheated against them….

      Liked by 1 person

    • Geraldo doesn’t know squat about baseball or much about anything as far as I’m concerned. There has been more of an orchestrated outrage about this than the steroid scandal. MLB won’t even put an asterisk next to players that we knew were using steroids. While you can not use the excuse that every other team was or was probably doing it too, we were the ones who got caught because Fiers had a grudge against Astros. As I said in a previous post why didn’t he say something while it was going on? To me he is no better than those who were doing the cheating. It’s all fun and games while he was part of the winning but when he got his feelings hurt he became a STOOGE. And I’m still PO’d at the players who knew or participated and did nothing. I guess that in some of their minds making .5 to 30MM a year is not enough. I guess now we can add baseball (sports) to the saying that all’s fair in love and war. I say BS!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Posnanski article poses an interesting riddle.
    1. Hinch lied.
    2. The players didn’t respect AJ. Or,
    3. The front office mandated it, that is why Hinch was ineffectual.

    https://joeposnanski.substack.com/p/hinch-and-hof-part-deux

    Also, ESPN wants to strip Altuve of MVP. It’s NEVER going to end, until other teams show some integrity.
    Firing our GM, and Manager were sacrificial lambs designed to placate money sources; shareholders, sponsors, gambling institutions and moralistic fans. Boston would never consider firing Belichek, because the money the team generates controls how newspapers downplay his cheating. Since the Astros are an imminent threat to these markets, the media has been allowed to paint the worst,…and get away with it. Turning our own loyal fans away is an abomination, especially by withholding evidence of others.
    Crane admitted to nothing more than the “goods” the report had on us.
    Players were bribed to be honest, because MLB was never going to punish them — are they meting out the same judgment to other teams, forcing their players to rat out their own team?
    Crane said he is still considering Espada full-time, so where does “fresh start” begin and end when you have 400 employees and 40 players? Both his managers said it was lower-level field personnel (and players), and when asked about them, he said he wasn’t going to fire them.

    Hypocrisy abounds, stealing signs is older than dirt, and this has been completely blown out of proportion. For all the sweet this team gave me, just a little sour has ruined it all? No chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We, the fans, will never know the truth. The only thing I’m certain of is that the media has been told many different versions of what happened and has even less of a probability of knowing the truth than the average fan. People keep asking why Hinch didn’t do more to stop it, but do you all remember a few years back when he got an extension and we all wondered how much money he was actually getting? Hinch probably never even saw Jake Marisnick money, but was supposed to be the authority figure who could control the entire staff and players? Do you remember when we jokingly suggested Luhnow was sending down the day’s lineup each day?

    I’m angry that some or all of the players cheated. I’m disappointed the national media is too dumb to look at what happened on the field when the Astros were in their gray uniforms. I’m annoyed that the other teams who got caught cheating get to take pot shots at us. I’m surprised the national media is running quotes from Cody Bellinger about how his Dodgers team did it the right way and the Astros are evil people who should be burned at the stake while casually mentioning in the articles he’s sleeping on Christian Yelich’s couch…the same Yelich accused of receiving signals during at-bats from the MIL bullpen during home games.

    Sports is supposed to be our escape. When thinking about baseball makes you sad, that’s a problem. I wish I had faith that Manfred would take the steps necessary to clean this up, but don’t trust that he’s doing anything more than scratching the surface. And to come back to something I was saying earlier and others have mentioned, there is too much money at stake. Consider the free agent contracts. Look at what guys like Howie Kendrick or the recently retired David Freese have received following one hit wonder post seasons. The players are going to chase the money in more ways than one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Solid post Devin. But I do think we’ll find out most of the sordid details of this debacle once someone decides to sue someone. I think that will happen. And who writes the first book? If Luhnow is done for good, his might be a good read, regardless of what we all might think of him right now.

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      • You’ve made that remark before about suing. Are you thnking neither AJ, nor Jeff will land on their feet? Because who will hire them if they start suing?

        It seems to me they said all the right things, and were good Yes-men if the wrong-doing was deeper than we know.

        At any rate, I don’t think there’s any question Luhnow will act in some capacity as a behind-the-scenes, or front man eventually. It is Taubman who was banned.

        Funny thing is, a while back, I said I thought Taubman actually has a lawsuit of merit. Would we hear the whole story, like the one given by Chris Correa, who said he hacked because he was sure Luhnow was hacking StL? What do you bet since Dewitt and Mozeliak (Owner/GM) got off scott free, that Chris Correa was in a luxury suite “minimum security”?

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  9. Just an Opinion. Baseball has a long history of cheating/lying/terrible morals/insert your favorite term. It started long before the Black Sox scandal, but that one shows there are two sides. Eddie Cicotte was cheated by Comisky out of a possible bonus. (Not an excuse but fills in a hole as to “Why.’) Then we have MLB banning Hall of Fame black players from participating. and when the color barrier was broken – Enos Slaughter spiking Jackie Robinson. The recently retired Dodgers pitching coach, Rick Honeycutt was found with a tack taped into his glove to scar up the balls. After retiring, Elston Howard admitted rocking back on his shin guards and cutting the baseball so Whitey Ford could have a “fuzzy” curve ball. Juan Marichal head John Roseboro over the head with a bat. God only knows what Gaylord Perry used/doctored, etc. Sammy Sosa, Albert Belle, and at least 4 others used corked bats. And the entire steroid thing. So it is a kid’s game played by adults. Adults always seek to find an edge. This will not stop it nor even slow it down.

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    • Again, Opinion. I watched all or part of 100+ Astros games. It is entertainment for me. I enjoy baseball and the team. That said, it is “entertainment.” I don’t identify with the Astros. I don’t own them and they don’t own me. I will watch the Astros in 2020. But again, it will be just for the entertainment value. This cheating diminishes my opinion of certain participants but I am not naive enough to think all the cheats wore Houston uniforms. (Not an excuse, just looking at this realistically). Finally if baseball wants a clean record, they need to do what the Tour de Fance did. They declared no winners during the Lance Armstrong wins. For MLB, they need to wipe out all records back until 1880 or so

      Liked by 1 person

    • Devin_
      September 11, 2019 @ 1:48 pm
      The sports world is generally “what have you done for me lately?” The obvious answer on what could get Luhnow/Hinch fired would be scandal.

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      • Sept 9, is that related to Luhnow and Hinch? I am trying to remember what that subject was. I do recall on, or around that time I was high on Tucker, and I wanted both Cole and JV to slow way down innings, that Hinch was mishandling them. Related to him being soft, as it were, now we know.

        By the way, I am glad to read differences of opinion because it’s a perspective to consider, perhaps one I hadn’t thought of.

        As I lay waking up on the day of the punishment, something came over me that caused me to reverse field. While I still whole-heartedly support this organization, I realized that two men I thought had more integrity, it was on their watch plain and simple, and even before they were suspended, I wrote they betrayed us and should be fired.

        I mean, that really hurt, like the scene in Braveheart, when he is betrayed by a friend. I don’t believe what has been done is a moral issue; the Astros knew they were spied on and how (Espada from NYY), and every team was intro’d with the capability to read signs in their viewing room. These guys pushed it too far, and it appears so have others (Yelich is accused, and others).

        What is silly about punishment is the league and all the lawyers, and even Fangraphs speculating, “What Astros Benefitted Most,” BS, has put such a seed of doubt now in my own beloved Springer and others. And to what extent were other teams actually gaining an illegal advantage over us, like say the 2018 ALCS? The nerd cave acted like they never played ball in the dirt, or experienced in the backyard getting called out, but they were in a den of snakes in Boston. I thought Boston beat us fair and square, but I marvelled at the time how Cora beat us at every inch and turn to the punch.

        I’m telling you though (Dan’s, What would it take to fire..), something Op commented on about Hinch said he wanted Alvarez on Opening Day? I find that a very intriguing comment. Already long-winded, but if Hinch said that, it means JL was calling the shots on White. I find that a very important fact, if true.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Last night as I lay contemplating all of this, I distinctly remembered this particular blog and how far fetched it was to even consider the scenario when you posted it.
    Then the dookie hit the fan.
    Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say “ya know, you just never know.”

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  11. This is being talked about as if it was Harvey II. But we survived Harvey, and we will rise up and rebuild from this setback as well. Resolve! They tell me this is a city with ‘true grit’.

    Time for Justin Verlander and Alex Bregman to send a ‘Rooster Cogburn’ message to the league:
    “Fill your hands, you *^%* of &*@~!”

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  12. The guys need to reach way down deep and show all of these SOB’s that it wasn’t a fluke or cheating that won us a 100 plus games the last 3 years.

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  13. I asked our oldest son not to tell my grandsons (Tucker 13, and Tate 10) that any players were accused of cheating. The hardest conversation I’ve ever had to have was when this story first broke. I’m 71 and looking at my last 15-20 years on this earth, but these kids have a long time to live and this news has hit them square in the face. My hope is any guy who wants to be traded, be allowed to. The clubhouse and the atmosphere will be a challenge for ANY manager, and GM. No longer can these guys have the manager who guided them through the worst years….to winning the World Series….and that’s sad. Now, if you will excuse me I have to go throw up. Oh yeah, I almost forgot.
    THIS. WILL. NEVER. END.😠

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  14. I’d like to see the Astros:
    (1) hire a manager from outside
    (2) players drop the show off attitude and
    play even harder and with a sense
    of humbleness.

    (3) make appearances at hospitals/disaster sites
    Orphanages and other public places that
    would demonstrate a sense of community.

    (4) core group of stars show
    and express contrition and demonstrate the
    resolve/capacity to learn and grow as
    human beings.

    just my 2 cents.

    Liked by 2 people

    • AstrosCaravan visited HEB Food Bank, Project C.U.R.E. today;

      Cy Sneed, Dustin Garneau, Aledmys Diaz, TK and Blummer.

      https://www.facebook.com/Astros/

      There are many other examples, but you may already know that our A-ball affiliate, Quad Cities River Bandits ongoing charitable efforts contributed more than $600,000 to Quad-City area organizations in 2017 and were recognized by Ballpark Digest as the ‘best charitable works’ in Minor League Baseball. A resilient bunch of kids this year, slept out of their suitcase when their field was flooded most of the year.

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  15. Cora and Red Sox, Twitter is lit up with these, mostly Yanks and…

    “I love that you had to cheat in order to beat my @Dodgers
    . Words can’t begin to describe how cowardly your entire org is. Your fans should be ashamed of you and your entire team and staff should be suspended. I hope you always feel the shame from this the rest of your lives.”

    What’s going to happen to this poor soul when faced with the “sin” of their own team, when once they judged this way?

    I put a lot of blame on Manfred. He created this loophole where he, “didn’t send the players the sign stealing rules, that was left up to the managers.” He has allowed this to spiral so much because he claimed there was no evidence beyond Houston, and he has demonized the practice, which has essentially been manipulated for many years.

    Why hasn’t anyone suggested all the scandals (Angels have 6 players on opiodes, baseball tampering, and so much more) — why hasn’t anyone suggested new leadership as Commissioner? I actually can imagine lawsuits coming down the pike for gamblers who placed millions of dollars. They are all going to make an argument the odds didn’t reflect the cheating.

    mets Brewers Dodgers rangers, whose next?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Okay, so I do have a few questions:

    1. Where is the line in cheating? It’s NOT about cheating, it’s about how, is that right? I mean, you can still steal signs, just not using technology. But the guy at second or in the dugout can still pick up the signs and pass them along without penalty.

    2. How do the players — who allegedly masterminded and led the entire mess — skate entirely? Should they be held accountable? If so, how?

    3. Does/should MLB share any of the blame? They have essentially led us into this technological age where every little step, every little tag, every little throw/catch are reviewed frame by frame.

    4. Did Crane “collude” with MLB? If Luhnow didn’t know — as Manfred suggested — why is Crane any different than Luhnow? Of course, you can argue that Crane had to pay the $5 million and will pay the price with the four lost draft picks I suppose.

    Please understand, I’m just an old-school, old-fashioned guy wanting to have a conversation. I think Luhnow is probably culpable on many levels, other than sign-stealing. I just think we’re so far down the road in this new era of sports that many of these types of things are inevitable.

    Where is the line anymore?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Chip – good to see your comment….
      1. Well the guy on second or the dugout can steal signs if…..the team did not use technology to look at previous signs and “decode” them in that game (I think if you look at game film after a game you may be OK).
      2. They have gone kid gloves on the players I assume because of the union situation, but also I think they don’t want to suspend every position player who used the signs on the Astros and not have a team (because they might find out the same thing about one of their darling teams and they can’t have the Yanks and Red Sox meeting every week on Sunday night baseball with scrubs in the field).
      3. Let’s put it this way – if MLB had totally slammed the Yanks and Red Sox for using the Apple Watch in 2017, I don’t see how we would have had a WS in question. By half a$$ing the punishment then, they did not send the right signal – I don’t care what their warning letter said
      4. I think that Crane and MLB totally made an agreement on what the punishment was and tried their best to protect the MLB brand (by having the league put down stiff punishments) and protect the Astros brand (by having Crane put down even stiffer punishments and isolating the problem away from ownership.

      I am kind of surprised we haven’t heard that the teams have a camera on the third base coaches trying to decode his set of signals. I’m sure some computer algorithm could record and inning or two and spit out what to look for so we could bang garbage can lids when a batter is swing away on a 3-0 pitch.

      Not sure where this is all headed – just sick to my stomach about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. manfred report:
    “I am neither in a position to evaluate whether the scheme helped Astros hitters (who were unquestionably a very talented group), nor whether it helped the Astros win any games. There are so many factors that impact the outcome of games that addressing that issue would require rank speculation. But for purposes of my decision, regardless of whether the scheme was effective or not, it violated the rules and, at a minimum, created the appearance of unfairness, and for that, it necessitates severe discipline.”

    “But more importantly, the Club’s General Manager and Field Manager are responsible for ensuring that the players both understand the rules and adhere to them. Our office issues a substantial number of detailed rules and procedures to Clubs – many of which, including the sign stealing rules, are not sent directly to players. It is the obligation of the Club, and, in this case, the General Manager and Field Manager, to educate and instruct their players on the rules governing play on the field.”

    Why wouldn’t he issue the warnings and rules to players?

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I read the Commissioner’s statement 3 times yesterday. As stated above, it begs more questions than it answers. (Just one example – after warning about sign stealing, MLB allowed all teams to move the video equipment closer to the dugout?)

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  19. Buster Olney wrote a piece about Cora today saying that “Cora was obsessed with stealing signs, and pitch tipping from an early age”. So what happens now?? Does he get to walk away and grin about how he completely destroyed the Astros?? The commissioner should ban Cora from ever having ANYTHING to do with baseball!! Question: who makes any trades we would have made if Luhnow had still been the GM? Somewhere in this giant pile of cr@P there is a glimmer of hope with this scandal. I don’t know what that “is” yet, but a hand far greater than ALL OF US will direct this baseball team to a brighter path.
    That doesn’t mean I’m over it….it means that I will TRY very hard to have a more positive outlook about what has happened to my beloved team.
    *Diane girl we have been praying for you, and seeing your post made me very happy!! Welcome back girlfriend we have missed you❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • I like this article, but isn’t it funny the narative has changed to the league being complicit when Boston is implicated? See how the Globe and others can sway public opinion so easily?

      If a Houston journalist wrote this, it would get squashed or vilified as excuse-making.

      If you don’t believe it, read a Fangraphs comment section on the Astros. This is supposed to be an analytics-based site, which has turned into headlines like, “Astros Hammered by the Commissioner,” line item by line item. Where is the in-depth work of looking into the other teams?

      I went to Journalism school, they aren’t objective! Newspapers are beholden to their sponsors, any story that conflicts with corporate sponsorship is handled by the attorneys. I have read memoirs of past editors, who have recounted stories they had to “sit on.” if what Ashley McHugh says is true, Mike Fiers has been peddling his story for several years, and it was only until Drellich was able to release, coinciding with Taubman and the World Series. All too coincidental to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Bob Nightengale revealed that the Astros are looking outside the organization for a manager. They plan on filling that job first.
    Nightengale’s article was downright nasty and sort of left me feeling that he hated the Astros.
    He thinks the Astros are broken. I sure could think of one good way to convince him they aren’t. But, the team is the only one who can do that. I hope he hates us even more in November.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Remember the bus incident? Cora cursing Blum, and then Hinch, at length? I wonder if Astro management effectively gave Cora carte blanche, rendering Hinch unable to fully control his dugout. I wonder how involved Taubman might have been in the whole affair. The nagging problem I have in processing the whole scenario is in Hinch not shutting down the operation even as he pretty clearly did not like what was going on. And who led the program in early 2018, even after Cora was gone?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Diane, we’ll be hearing so much more from other sources as time goes by. Maybe from lawyers, players on the fringe, maybe from whomever decides to write a book first. Hinch might remain quiet unless further assaulted because he’s the one guy so far that might get a job in baseball again if he wants it.

        Like

      • Is it not interesting that Hinch was the worst manager ever when he left the Diamondbacks. Got a reprieve and is now leaving as the “cheatingest” manager in all of baseball.

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  22. This is a reply to Dan’s original post at the top. Looking at those games we all played as kids – and played them honestly or people walked away if you were a constant cheater. Maybe, just maybe, The Love of Money IS THE ROOT OF all evil.

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  23. The biggest open question about this to me is ……what will they do with Carlos Beltran. After all – they have shown they are not about punishing players and he was a player when this was occurring. Does this roll over to his new position as Mets manager? In my mind, MLB may not punish him (if he was forthcoming in the interviews) but the Mets may let him go anyways.

    Like

    • “Forthcoming”? Because he is accused of lying.

      And how crazy flipped upside-down is this world? Not that I like Brodie Van Weg in NY, but how is his future on the line with how he handles Beltran?

      Is the new way to handle this, find the pound of flesh, sometimes it has to be two lambs to appease the masses, then we can wash hands and move on?

      The league was complicit by not even looking closely. I keep hearing about this memo sent on Sept 15. What if these guys get 100’s of memos, and this was a minutiae thing, not even worth looking into in ’17 by the league.

      To me a smoking gun in this is the famous Sept 21 video versus CWS and Farquhar. He steps off the rubber because he hears trash cans. When asked recently why it wasn’t pursued at the time, the Owner Hahn said, “we prefer a more dignified response.” I think this is a can ‘o worms, similar to foreign substance on the baseball; many teams do it, and don’t want to make it an issue.

      Just like Heller coming forth on steroids, when players start to talk about what they know of other teams, this sign stealing which was once demonized as an exclusive Astros thing, will be relativized and the language will be dealt with in the CBA (I would think.) For now, these firings are aimed at diffusing protracted investigations, surely.

      Like

  24. Tip of the iceberg

    Via The Ringer
    But hours after Monday’s report, veteran infielder Logan Morrison named the Yankees and Dodgers, in addition to the Red Sox and Astros, as teams that have used cameras to steal signs. An October article on electronic espionage in baseball by Scott Miller of Bleacher Report cites league sources who also think the Diamondbacks, Indians, Rangers, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Nationals have dabbled in the electronic dark arts. Belleville News-Democrat and MLB.com reporter Jeff Jones added the Brewers to that list shortly after Miller’s piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. What must be said by me:
    -I think Yuli Gurriel worked out his deal the way it is in order to try to get a chance to play with his brother. Just my opinion. If Taylor Jones can continue his rise at the plate, he might be in line for a starting job in 2021. He has the defense at 1B
    – I believe Freudis Nova and Jeremy Pena stage a real battle to replace Carlos Correa at SS in a year or two.
    -The Astros have a lot of good-but-not-great position players in their system right now. I think they will try to keep them in the system, not having those four high draft picks.
    -I am intrigued with how the Astros and George Springer will handle their situation in 2020. A new GM and Manager makes it even more so.
    -What gets the Astros out from the luxury tax situation in the next two years? The continued development of all the young arms the Astros have in their minors that were drafted or signed by a GM who is now long gone.
    -No matter what, the Astros have Bregman, Altuve, Alvarez and Tucker for years if they so desire. So they have a Core 4 moving forward.
    -I believe the Astros drafted Corey Lee at the right time. He’s important.

    Like

    • If I may respond to a fertile subject, if we agree or not, I’m open to changing my mind on these players-

      The Blue Jays are letting Biggio play some 1B, because Tellez is pretty bad. I entertained the Gurriel brothers playing together throughout last season, but with Yuli’s raise, approved by Crane … I think we’re keeping him this year. For their young nucleus forward, Yuli might sign eventually (not sure how much in his tank).

      Much as I like Jones (I wrote about him in 2018 offseason as one to watch, still a skinny kid from Gonzaga basketball school then), he has a significant hole in his swing witnessed last Spring vs ML pitching. We have a lot to find out before handing it to Jones, where I favor JJ Matejevic (R5in Dec) to grab part-time in 2021. Given that he stays out of trouble (rules are changing about marijuana after Skaggs incident in CBA discussions).

      Pena is definitely one to watch for a speedy call up, possibly in Sept ’20, but more likely 2021. He was VERY impressive already last Spring defensively. Astros paid a pretty penny 300K for him. With the the money they paid for Nova, I need to see some power this year — crucial year to find out if he’s progressing toward the Hanley Ramirez ceiling comp. I don’t think he’s a Jio Mier, or Ovando floor. We cannot forget Straw, because if he hits (already has excellent plate discipline), we will need secondary positions for him. Depending on arbitration with Diaz, he was under-utilized last season, and made a good back up SS/1B. I’m still intrigued long-term by Kessinger, but he might be a 2B eventually fighting it out with Santana.

      Korey Lee was … well, sure he’s a solid pick. Btw, Op, you will not find his name on the internet connected with Astros pre-draft, except right here 10 minutes before the pick. At least, I never saw one. Kind of proud of this, since it was my first full-time emersing in to the MLB draft.

      “Korey Lee is an interesting thought ranked in mid-40’s Catcher at Cal.
      Looks like a solid hitter, decent arm.” GoStros1 commented on The 2019 Crawfish Boxes MLB Draft Guide and Thread Jun 3, 2019, 9:58pm EDT

      First choice would have been RHP, Quinn Priester, but had Astros even had a chance (he was taken #18 by the Pirates), we never could have had the deep draft — he cost 3M, while Lee cost $1.75M. As you know, my focus is more on CJ Stubbs, but also Nathan Perry. The race is on between them.

      I think High-A will have Salazar, Campos (under-rated), CJ Stubbs to begin, while Juan Paulino who was an All-Star last year will be racing Perry and Lee to Fayettville.

      I can’t agree more on young pitching getting us through the next window. My hope is we retain Pete Putila who has been integral in draft and scouting, and will hopefully continue to consistent development. We lost Luhnow, but we didn’t lose Strommie, Drew French, Bill Murphy, Erik Abreu, Jason Bell and other excellent young coaches. They are the ones who have been polishing up the Brandon Bielak, and Cristian Javier.

      Briefly, the Kieboom bothers will play on the same field this season. The Tucker’s never made it, but I think the Stubbs brothers will join up in 2022. They have excellent pedigree.

      Like

      • FWIW, I feel like the exit of Luhnow may mean good things for a lot of these young arms in the system. The big question is who Crane hires and what direction he wants to set.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You know, if somehow the team was to go totally flat in 2020, we could be moving several guys in July. That would of course provide more payroll flexibility going forward but probably more importantly help mitigate the loss of 1’s and 2’s in 21 and 22. We’d also see how good some more of our minor league guys really are. All that said, I don’t expect us implode in 2020.

        Like

      • I was talking about Yuli in 2021, after his contract is up.
        I mentioned Jones with the idea of him perhaps having some improvement with his bat in AAA in 2020 and having a shot in 2021.
        I think Luhnow spent a first round pick on Corey Lee with the idea that he would make it to the Astros at catcher.

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      • First for comparison, we all saw Maldonado “whiff” on some pitches in late 2018. And the FO signs him for two more years. But what I saw in Garrett Stubbs was a small, young catcher with limited hitting and catching skills. Perhaps as good as Stassi but no better. He “whiffed” on multiple pitches while he was in the games that I saw. Did anyone see something that excites them going forward for him?

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      • AC, I have a little different view of Maldy in ’18 ALCS in that his passed balls were much harder than normal “dirtballs” to field. A bit of bad luck that could be attributed to Pitching since his defensive numbers are very good over a career. Sure, we would like a more expensive guy, but he is very good for the money in the extra things he does that Cole wanted so badly in NYY. We stole him! There were signs Maldonado started hitting the ball better, starting in September.

        As for Garrett Stubbs, he’s obviously not quite there, so we signed Garneau without an option. Therefore, one of the starters has to “get hurt” for Stubbs to get called up (unless he ‘s a 3rd catcher, 5th OF). He has great feet, presents a good target, infectious personality, very engaged (his little brother has a lot of admiration for him), and has overcome the “he’s too small” moniker. I think where he lacks is keeping up that solid BA from RR to HOU. I reckon he needs more playing time, so ’20 will be shuttled back and forth. He’s still ahead of Ritchie and Quintana on depth chart.

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  26. By the way, are there any real sports journalists in Houston? It’s hard to fathom that no single writer spending time at the park every day during the season would not have any inkling of unusual things going on. None. Or, they simply did not have the balls to write about it. That’s probably more likely.

    Like

    • Well if Evan Drellich were here, he would have written extensively about it. Explained how everyone knew about it to include the players in Corpus Christi and the signals were coming from the bullpen – using telepathy.

      Like

  27. OK, I read what Manfred wrote twice again today. If he was worried about stealing signs, why did he move the replay video equipment closer to the dugout for all teams?

    He could have solved all of these potential problems by requiring all “teaching” videos to be recorded ONLY. No relay anywhere. OR he could have also required a 5 second delay on these videos to insure that they were “out of date” by the time it was relayed to the dugout. If he was worried about video review and signaling the dugout, he could have extended the time allowed the manager by 5 seconds. And/or he could have sent MLB personnel at random to test each team for compliance.

    This almost sounds like he was aware of the cheating and wanted to wait until he was forced to act, and then “over reacted.” A replay of the steroid scandal. God help us if Congress gets involved again.

    Like

    • He was my choice a few days ago.

      I’m reconsidering it though. Showalter seems like a move to “clean things up with his integrity.” I’m not so sure we don’t need a Kevin Cash type who can appreciate the farm a little more. Like Garner said, Astros need more pitching. Really? And how do we get that?

      I worry whoever comes in will not appreciate we have ML-ready prospects, and to allow us an open try-out in Spring. In that way, not sure I want the Old Guard. Just a thought.

      I feel like de ja vu all over again when we brought in Terry Collins.

      Like

    • On second thought, I’d rather Gibbons . It’s 2020. We do NOT need an old school type. This is exactly what I was afraid of when Hinch got fired

      Like

  28. Got to expect the manager choice to be an older, seasoned guy thought of as having impeccable integrity throughout MLB. He does not have to be the pick for the next five years. It will not be a Terry Collins type.

    Any guy getting a chance to run the Astros will be closely looking at all our prospects and certainly appreciate the options at his fingertips. In this situation, some guys might get a better shot sooner with a new GM and Manager on the job.

    Showalter would not be a long term choice for me, but he might be what the Astros need today.

    Like

    • I meant by Collins ‘a disciplinarian’ vs innovator. It would seem an over-reaction to me to get someone who’s known for having more control over his players — Buck is also a good baseball mind. Despite differences of opinion here, it seems quite clear that everyone from Crane down knew what was going on re sign stealing, so it just doesn’t make sense to me that you take a ‘burn it down’ or sea change approach. I would think firing the GM and Mgr is enough semblence of due diligence. Given that we are finding out the Astros weren’t the only ones, but they DID STOP, do we really need a thorough cleansing is the sentiment I’m asking?

      JL surrounded himself with forward thinkers; Elias Medjal Goldstein. I’d like to see some continuity there, given the like-minded instructors already in the organization.

      Bruce Bochy is intriguing, always liked him.

      Like

      • I like Bochy. But if he really wants a vacation, this will not be the job.

        I do think the Astros will make a decision very quickly, because the Sox need someone and the Mets might end up in that position too.

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  29. I never thought we would be talking about a new manager this year. The one year suspension should have been enough. Extreme response IMHO. It hurts to see those other names even mentioned.

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  30. Interviewing Showalter two days after the news broke confirms in my mind that the suspension / firing of Hinch and Luhnow was choreographed between Crane and MLB. Crane knew what was coming and what he would have to do and had a list ready of people to bring in for interviews for manager. He did not need the list of GMs as quickly as he will do that second.

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    • I have wondered the same for awhile. The first thing that made me wonder was Luhnow creating a draft by committee in June! Surely, they knew what they had done in 2017 (we didn’t), and they knew Fiers had already given Drellich the story (they were sitting on it). Drellich has been writing about sign stealing for SEVERAL yrs.

      Another tip was replacing Reid Ryan with his son, Jared Crane.

      Other tips were Crane answering questions at the press conference page by page. The moderator would say, “Jerome, your question,” and Crane would turn the page to see how to answer it.

      Chandler Rome was JUST ON Talkin’ Stros podcast the night before, claiming he didn’t know anything. Then, within hours, he was at the presser asking key questions.

      Look, it’s just an opinion, but the media lynching starting with Taubman on the eve of the WS (that story did not HAVE to run); Hinch and JL painted as the bad guys when lower-level and players were hands-on responsible; the Astros being loaded for a few more years. Much of this seems orchastrated to me. How else is NYY not implicated when it started there in 2014, where Beltran was hired as a special consultant in 2018.

      Manfred works FOR the Owners; Crane is interested in profits for all owners. He will gladly do their bidding because he’s a small fish in their sea (and he’s almost tripled his investment). They obviously think that making this scandal even bigger threatens their money sources (players, sponsors, etc.) With Crane’s help in accepting the punishment, they know we are tired of talking about this — it will all go away so we can “just get back to baseball.” Meanwhile, our team and fans are relatively decimated in the wake. Like big business and politics, many similarities.

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  31. In my mind I wonder how he put together the list. I mean you normally have a “succession” plan for critical spots in your organization – but that normally covers internal options. What is interesting is that he could go to Luhnow before this week and say – if Hinch is let go because of this – what would be your list of people you would pursue outside. He might have a harder time talking to “someone” about a similar list for filling the GM spot. Maybe that is why he was ready on the Manager spot right away and not on the GM spot.

    Like

    • Crane claimed he had someone in mind to interview for GM. Conversely, he seemed unsure whether Espada would stay on after Interim (“still a possibility”). That seems smarter to me to have GM in first, to map out the longer direction of the team.. anyway, we’ll see.

      Like

      • If Crane has someone in mind for GM, then maybe Crane is already including that someone in the decision making process for manager.
        By the way, if neither Reid nor Nolan Ryan knew anything about what was going on in the clubhouse, their sudden exit from the organization shielded them from this mess and allowed them to separate themselves from the fray ahead of time. My guess is that they knew what was coming and were not happy about it, but were happy to leave.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Crane certainly could be getting quiet feedback from a guy like Biggio, or Enos Cabell or others. I would guess that he’d not go to Luhnow for manager recommendations, because Luhnow was already gone last week. We just did not know it yet.

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  32. Happened on local news last night. Caught Reid Ryan being interviewed briefly. The impression was that he was being the “face” of the Astros and a sad face it was. Apparently Mr. Crane’s son is still in “grooming.”

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  33. My first comment after Cora’s public statements were maddening that he’d talk about bringing a championship to BOS, but not take responsibility for his role in bringing shame to Houston.

    Well, now he has “sort of” admitted it.

    And look further at this hypocrisy of the Red Sox Owner. We’re helping the investigators who are doing just as thorough a job as Houston.” What a crock! They all knew what their people were doing, and lower level people will always take the fall. They treat us like imbeciles. NYY and LAD even though they have been accused by players, looks like those darlings will escape anything further. What a sham, kowtowing operation Manfred is running.

    https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/28491040/red-sox-alex-cora-admitted-wrongdoing-astros

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