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The Astros’ apology news conference was embarrassing

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There are ways to apologize and let people know you are sincere and really mean it. This wasn’t it, though

MLB: Houston Astros-Workouts Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros players, including Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, issued apologies for their behavior during a Thursday morning news conference that also included team owner Jim Crane and manager Dusty Baker.

I found many of the statements insincere. They seemed as if they were read by rote, not from the heart. Crane contradicted himself. Baker’s presence was... why? He had nothing to do with the sign-stealing scandal. I suppose he’s there as the new “face” of the franchise on the field, but what could he really say?

First, listen to Bregman and Altuve:

Both of those sound like they were written by public relations folks and they had to coach the players to say them. It almost doesn’t feel as if these two players meant anything they said. Note that neither took questions.

That fell to Baker and Crane, and it was mostly Crane doing the talking. That led to embarrassing moments like this:

Well, yes, Jim. You literally did say that less than a minute earlier. But wait, he inserts his foot into his mouth again:

On Tuesday, media interviewed Twins infielder Marwin Gonzalez, who was a member of the Astros in 2017. This one sounds a little bit more sincere (emphasis on “little”):

One of the players most directly affected by the scandal was... Gonzalez, whose 2017 season is a major outlier in his eight-year career:

Ah, yes. Internal emails. Does that seem like potential proof that the entire organization knew about the trash-can scheme? This Washington Post article provides some evidence that the scheme was well-known around the league:

“The whole industry knows they’ve been cheating their a---- off for three or four years,” said an executive from a team that faced the Astros in the playoffs during that span. “Everybody knew it.”

Like most of the people interviewed for this story, the executive spoke on the condition of anonymity to defy an MLB request that personnel from other teams refrain from speaking freely about the Astros. He estimated “10 to 12” teams had complained to MLB about the Astros over the years. An executive from another team agreed with that number.

While the logistics of the ­Astros’ scheme — a camera in center field, a video monitor near the dugout, banging on trash cans to signal pitches and what the Wall Street Journal reported was an operation called “Codebreaker” to decipher the catcher’s signs — remained unknown as it was happening, suspicions that games against the Astros were contested on an uneven playing field skyrocketed.

“It was a big open secret, really big,” said a veteran scout from another team whose coverage included the Astros. “Throughout baseball, throughout the scouting community, for several years, not just starting in 2017. I would say probably 2016, maybe earlier, through [2019], things were going on that were blatantly against the rules.”

There is, around much of baseball, a “what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse” attitude. This isn’t all bad — it’s there to help build trusting relationships among teammates and coaches. But when things diverge into something against the rules like this is, why wouldn’t someone have blown the whistle a lot earlier? “10 to 12 teams” went to MLB and nothing happened? That’s on Rob Manfred, but at a certain point someone should have made this public. That did happen eventually with Mike Fiers’ comments last November that blew the lid off the scandal.

Baseball really has to clean this up, because almost everyone is angry that the integrity of the game has been called into question.

Baseball really has to clean this up because:

Hey, Jim. You’re the team owner. Eventually everything done by those who work for you reflects on you. It’s certainly not good when Rob Dibble (Rob Dibble!) is the voice of reason:

That wouldn’t fix everything, but it would go a long way toward making a statement that the Astros players truly are sorry. And are they really?

Are they truly sorry?

Does this sound like a sincere apology to you? (Sounds like “sorry we got caught” to me.)

And further, this doesn’t really excuse anything:

Meanwhile, Dave Hudgens, who was the Astros’ hitting coach in 2017, said he knew about the sign-stealing scheme and is sorry he didn’t report it:

Well, I should’ve gone into A.J.’s office and said something, like any of us should’ve done. But we didn’t. And I really can’t even think of what I was thinking back then, to be honest with you. You know, a lot of times I wouldn’t get into the dugout until we were hitting (during the game). I was in the (batting) cage a lot of the time. Nobody ever talked about it or ever said anything, to my knowledge, either to me or my assistant. It’s not something we were involved in setting up.

The Astros are likely in for a summer where they get booed mercilessly in every road ballpark in which they play, and they will have deserved every bit of it.

Some sincere, heartfelt apologies might have mitigated that. I don’t think I heard one today.