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Joe Musgrove fined $1,000 for admitting he intentionally hit Chris Owings

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Last week Pirates starter Joe Musgrove plunked Chris Owings of the Diamondbacks intentionally. He did it in retaliation for his teammate, Josh Harrison, being hit with a pitch the previous half-inning. Musgrove admitted it was retaliation, in fact, saying that he did it to “protect” his teammate because “that’s how [he] was raised to play the game.”

Yesterday Major League Baseball disciplined Musgrove for that, paying him $1,000. Musgrove happily accepted the fine and said it was an acceptable price to pay for his ability to police the plunking situation.

The ridiculousness of this is that the only reason Musgrove got fined was because he admitted that it was a purpose pitch. If he had used the old saw about it “getting away from him” MLB likely would not have fined him at all. At the same time, as our Matthew Pouliot noted this morning, if Owings had charged the mound and started a fight over it, Musgrove probably would’ve been suspended for six games for setting that off. As if Musgrove is less culpable for a bad act simply because Chris Owings was better able to keep his head than some other player might’ve.

All of which is to say: Major League Baseball doesn’t care if a pitcher intentionally throws at a hitter. It’s merely concerned with how it all plays out publicly after he does so. A bad quote gets you $1,000. A bad optic in the form of a fight video gets you six games.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?