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Luhnnow and Hinch suspended by MLB, then fired by Astros

Wow.

Did not age well

Astros owner Jim Crane fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow on Monday shortly after Major League Baseball announced the pair would be suspended for a year as part of the penalties for the investigation into alleged electronic-sign stealing.

“Today is a very difficult day for the Houston Astros,” Astros owner Jim Crane said in a press conference Monday. “MLB did a very thorough investigation and the Astros fully cooperated and we accept their decisions and findings and penalties.”

The franchise also was stripped of its first- and second-round picks in both the 2020 and 2021 drafts and fined $5 million.

MLB’s report detailed the Astros’ efforts to steal signs in 2017 and laid out the punishment handed down to the Astros. Crane opted to go a step further.

“I have higher standards for the city and the franchise,” Crane said.

Well, at least the Astros found a way to make everyone forget about the Texans’ playoff disaster. The full report is embedded in the story, and it’s not long, so go read the whole thing. (Or just read the highlights here, but really, read the whole thing.) I’d say this was on the high end of what I thought might happen, but it’s not out of line with my expectations. The key is that the activity continued to occur after the 2017 Red Sox Apple Watch incident, in which Commissioner Manfred (the author of the report) explicitly promised strong punishment if anyone was caught doing stuff like that again. If I’m Alex Cora, who was directly named as a mastermind behind the scheme and is now the manager of another team under investigation I’m probably not sleeping well right now. We can debate at length whether this was fitting or not, or if any punishment is worth winning a World Series, or just put on some oven mitts and read Twitter about it. Let’s just say 2020 is off to a rough start for Houston sports fans.

This also wrapped up the Brandon Taubman investigation – he too was suspended for a year, and will have to apply to the Commissioner’s office for reinstatement. He was also singled out in the report for some sharp rebukes. I’ll be thinking about all this for some time. The Press has more.

UPDATE: This did not age well.

Allegations of electronic sign-stealing “surprised” Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who acknowledged Saturday he has participated in and cooperated with Major League Baseball’s ongoing investigation into his team.

Appearing at an autograph show alongside Alex Bregman and George Springer, Correa offered the most elaborate comments of any Houston player since the scandal broke last November.

Correa expressed little worry about the organization’s reputation and no thought the 2017 World Series title is in any way tainted. He revealed subtle antipathy toward former teammate Mike Fiers, whose on-the-record allegations about the 2017 team’s actions spurred the investigation.

“He’s a grown man, and he can do whatever he wants to do. It’s a free country,” Correa said. “Knowing Fiers, it was surprising, because we were a team. We were a team. We were all together, and we had a bond, and we won a World Series championship. But this is America, the land of the free. You can say what you want to say.”

I’d say at least a little worry about the team’s reputation is in order at this time. There’s no evidence to suggest that the sign stealing actually benefited the Astros, but that doesn’t matter. Fair or not, this scandal will forever be associated with that title.

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8 Comments

  1. Flypusher says:

    I had the opportunity to participate in the Astros’ victory parade. I remember that it was an unusually hot and humid day for early November, and I was completely gassed at the end of it. But I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. There is something special about that first championship, and being part of 700,000+ people feeling pure joy was something I’ll always remember fondly. But now it’s been diminished and tarnished.

    Hinch was an excellent manager, and he was the only adult in the room among Astros’ upper management during the scandal that fool Taubman caused. But I can’t argue with the suspension or the firing. You cheated (or permitted cheating), you got caught, you take the penalty.

    I do expect equivalent action against any other teams that cheated. The Red Sox are probably next, and I hear the White Sox have also been accused.

  2. brad says:

    Every single player on the Astros would have known about this sign stealing scheme. The entire 2017 Astros team are all cheats and will always be. An asterisk should be put next to their WS win.

    Extremely lame by MLB that no action is being taken against the individual players.

    Charles, your comment that “I’d say at least a little worry about the team’s reputation is in order at this time.” is quite an understatement.

  3. C.L. says:

    I stopped following the Astros on all social media the day after BoneHead Hinch pulled Grienke from Game 7 – he lost it for me with that managerial blunder. And I think MLB lost some credibility by not punishing the players as by all accounts, they were the key component to this scam. My prediction is that the house cleaning has just begun – I expect to see some key players gone by the time spring training begins, especially the guys who banged on the trash can and they guys who told them to. Good riddance to ’em.

    The fact that Correa appears to be ambivalent and expressing little worry about the team’s reputation leads me to believe he (and his masseuse-breaking ribs (LOL)) is going to be one of the first to go.

  4. Flypusher says:

    Correa’s shooting of the messenger isn’t making him look very good. Fiers ain’t the problem here.

    Listening to Houston Matters on the radio, and just heard there could be 8 other teams under the microscope.

  5. Flypusher says:

    William Metzger 100% speaks for me here:

    https://www.crawfishboxes.com/2020/1/13/21064786/houston-astros-you-reap-what-you-sow

    The sad thing is, these guys are good enough to win without cheating. Just like Barry Bonds was already one of the greatest players of all time before he indulged in chemical enhancement.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    Seems likely every player on the team knew what was happening. Did the trash can banging occur during at bats for all team members, or just a few of the heavy hitters?

    I am sure whoever investigated this went back and listened to the game tapes. If some players weren’t getting the banging during their at bats, then either they genuinely weren’t in on it, or they chose not to participate, but knew and wanted plausible deniability if things ever went South.

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    Pro sports is not worth the time and money that fans invest in it. I can’t take any of it too seriously. It might be fun to watch sometimes but that ‘s the extent of it. All sports has some cheating, or “bending the rules” to gain an advantage. MLB of course has all of the home run hitters who were on steroids. Pro cycling has a lot of riders who were on steroids. the NFL has spy gate, deflate gate, and other gates. Plus the leagues manipulate the games to get the product that they want. MLB changes the ball for the post season. the NFL has great leeway to influence the outcome of games, with a vague and variable definition of a catch, the discretion of officials to call penalties like holding or pass interference, which can negate big plays or create game changing shifts. It’s just entertainment.

  8. […] with Van Gundy here. Look, the main thing we know here is that other than then-coach Alex Cora, the whole “banging scheme” was […]