Astros owner on sign-stealing: ‘Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game’

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After dodging the media yesterday, the Houston Astros scheduled a press conference this morning. The apparent purpose for such a press conference would be to offer some semblance of remorse for their role in the sign-stealing scandal and to at least attempt to bring the matter to a close.

If that was the intention, however, they failed miserably.

The tone was set by Astros owner Jim Crane, who began by saying that “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.”

If you asked 1,000 professional baseball players whether knowing what pitch was coming would “impact the game” I predict that 1,000 of them would say “yes.” And I’ll leave that at that.

Crane added that he did not believe that the players were to blame, saying “these are a great group of guys who did not receive proper guidance from our leaders.” Which is contrary to what Major League Baseball’s report on the matter concluded. MLB said it was, apart from Alex Cora, a “player-led” scheme and suspended leaders A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow more as an example given Rob Manfred’s previous statements about how he’d smack down the GM and manager if he found out about sign-stealing. He didn’t punish the players — he grave them immunity — but he did not absolve them. Indeed, he pretty squarely blamed everything on them.

But Crane said it’s about the leaders. Which team leaders? It must be Hinch and Luhnow, because it wasn’t him. Indeed, he specifically said “I don’t think I should be held accountable.” The buck has already stopped, it seems. Way below Jim Crane’s office.

Two players spoke as well, José Altuve and Alex Bregman. Bregman:

“I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me. I’ve learned from this, and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans. I would also like to thank the Astros fans for all of their support. We as a team are totally focused on moving forward to the 2020 season.”

Altuve:

“The whole Astros organization and the team feels bad about what happened in 2017. The team is determined to move forward, to play with intensity and to bring back a championship to Houston in 2020.”

New Astros manager Dusty Baker was also on hand and spoke, though it’s unclear why one of the few people in the organization who had absolutely no role in the sign-stealing whatsoever was forced to answer for it.

The Astros had months to prepare for this press conference. It resulted in a statement of defiance by the team’s owner and two less-than-one-minute statements by two players that were quite clearly crafted by PR professionals and implored people to look forward rather than back.

Maybe that’s all they will say about this, but if the Houston Astros thinks this will stop anyone else from continuing to talk about it they’re sadly mistaken.

UPDATE:

UPDATE: Carlos Correa comes with way, way more candor:

UPDATE: And now Altuve again, this time informally. He makes a much, much better statement here, probably because he was contradicting Jim Crane and the P.R. department’s strategy from the earlier, orchestrated event. It’s amazing what happens when someone just talks like a human being rather than attempts to deliver some formal statement:

 

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.