Friday Morning Hot Links

When does an apology fall short of satisfying the aggrieved party? I thought about this a lot today. There are a number of reasons why an apology is rejected or at least treated with skepticism:

1. The apologizing party was told to apologize. Someone told them they were to apologize - that it's something that they should do. They don't really want to do it, but did it, anyway.
2. The apologizing party is not actually sorry.
3. The apologizing party knows/thinks others were doing the same things for which they are currently apologizing, and thus the apology sounds insincere.

Regardless, the Astros held Apology Day yesterday in West Palm Beach.

Statements

Bregman:
I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization, and by me. I have 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.

Springer:
The amount of remorse, regret that's very, very obvious to us in this room...There's no real way to express how much regret we have. How much remorse we have.

Reddick was asked if the World Series was worth breaking the rules:
I don't think so...It's something that we're gonna probably regret and feel bad for for the rest of our careers.

Carlos Correa had a lot to say, on Twitter and to the media. Correa entertained a question on Twitter from noted troll Incarcerated Bob (who is credibly accused of being behind the "Beltran's Niece" Twitter account) and said there was nothing going on in 2018 or 2019. Correa also confirmed Manfred's findings in the report, but rejected the idea that the Astros were wearing buzzers. Altuve:
It was a fake Twitter account that started everything. It makes me upset that a fake Twitter account had that much credibility. Like I said, I feel bad for 2017, but I can say something I didn't do was the buzzer thing. No one on this team wore a buzzer.

A.J. Hinch tried to clarify that he was not aware of any buzzers. What reality is this, even. Hinch:
There has been a significant reaction to my answer to the 'buzzer' question. To be clear, I have never seen any such device used in baseball. I am not aware of any such device existing or being utilized with the Astros, the players, or any other team.

Correa, On Beltran steamrolling everyone into buying into the trash can scheme:
[Beltran] was the best teammate we've ever had...We all had a say in everything...When the anonymous source is saying we felt intimidated, we were too young to say something, that's straight up bullshit.

Verlander:
It's been difficult, showing up in 2017. And once I spent some time there, understood what was happening. I didn't - I wish I had said more. Looking back, I can't go back. I can't reverse my decision. I wish I had said more, and I didn't, and for that I'm sorry.

McCullers:
I think that's something none of us can go back and change. I think the important thing we've all come together here. We met (Wednesday) and we stand behind Alex and Altuve and are remorseful for what happened for what happened that season and look forward to moving on.

Dusty Baker:
At the meeting [Wednesday] night the players showed tremendous remorse and sorrow and embarrassment for their families, the organization, the city of Houston and for baseball.

Jim Crane completely misread the situation:
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.

This is, of course, completely stupid. The Astros had a good team, they won the World Series. It impacted the game. Click that link to see the logical gymnastics Crane does. 10.0 from all judges, including the East German one. More Crane, on whether he should be punished by Rob Manfred, who is an employee of Jim Crane and 29 of his closest billionaire friends:
Well, clearly, the report states that I didn't know about it. Had I known about it, certainly I would have done something about it. I did hire Jeff, and I think Jeff did a lot of great things for the organization over the years. You know, no, I don't think I should be held accountable. 


Billionaires never think they should be held accountable. Read more to see how Crane threw Hinch and Luhnow under the bus. Jim Crane wants to be the new White Knight who leads the Astros into the Garden of Nevermore or whatever dreamland Crane is the mayor of. Billionaire wants all of the credit and none of the blame.

Will Harris told Nationals reporters that he wishes he would have made better choices.

Reactions

*Ken Rosenthal:
The Astros screwed up their news conference on live television Thursday as only they can.

*The San Antonio Express-News' Mike Finger: The Astros apologized, but for what, exactly?
The Astros might have gone to unprecedented lengths to break the rules, putting careers and legacies in peril in the process, but they did not do this to affect the outcome of games. The players, who obviously would have won the World Series without any help, are profoundly sorry for taking part in the scheme, even though the whole thing was beyond their control. The owner, who was completely oblivious to what happened before, can absolutely guarantee everything will be above board from now on.

*A's pitcher Sean Manaea:
I saw a couple of interviews and they all said pretty much the same thing - they skated by everything, they swept everything under the rug. They didn't own up to anything and they're trying to move on which is like - what are you guys trying to move on from? You haven't even said what it is you did. They're just now saying they're sorry, but what about this entire offseason? It was like: deny, deny, deny. When the time comes, you have to say what you're trying to move on from. It's crazy.

*Rays pitcher Chris Archer, on his August 1, 2017 start, in which he allowed 6H/4ER, 5K:0BB, 2HR in a 6-4 win against Houston the day after Dallas Keuchel said the Trade Deadline was "Disappointing to say the least." Archer:
It's pretty messed up. The whole thing is messed up. It sucks when you dedicate your whole life to something, and somebody's out there doing some shady shit like that.

Mike Fiers was the opposing pitcher that game. He allowed 3ER in the first inning. Archer allowed four runs, all were driven in on homers from Beltran and Bregman and hits from...Beltran and Bregman. Archer:
You heard some rumors but I don't think anybody expected it to be to that extent, especially when you know these dudes on a personal level. You've talked to them. You've gone to dinner with them. You've even been on the same team with some of them - Team USA and stuff [Archer played with Bregman in 2017 for the World Baseball Classic]. FaceTimed with them throughout the season and offseason. Texted with them. Whatever. And then to find out to find out I was a part of them being successful. It was definitely disheartening. It's bad for the game. They set out the punishments, and it is what it is at this point. I guess it's time for everybody to move on.

*Clean-shaven pretty boy Gerrit Cole:
My feelings really haven't changed much. Nobody is getting a win out of this. It doesn't look very good. I guess I'm just fortunate to be able to be here and move past this and get to experience all the good things about coming to a new team and all that kind of stuff.

Hero, really. Enjoy Central Park and Serendipity and whatnot.

*Add Former Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens to the list of dudes who are really sorry.

*Evan Drellich: Blame is a tangled mess.

*SI: Breaking down the Astros' latest PR meltdown.

*Dave Roberts "believes in karma."

*LA stays LA:

Other Notes

*Pete Putila will retain his Assistant GM role. Tom Koch-Weser and Derek Vigoa will remain with the Astros...for now. James Click hedged a little:
I think any new GM coming in would want to take a full view of the baseball operations staff and figure out how we take the awesome people that we have here and maximize them and put them in the right position to succeed. It's something definitely on the front-burner for me.

*Chris Speier has been added to the staff as a Quality Control Coach.

Ed. Note:

I've flirted with actually typing this out for most of the offseason, but as Spring Training actually starts in earnest (for real! You can watch Forrest Whitley throw right here!) I want to get this out. There is a certain part of me that is defined by the Astros. I get mad when they lose a game they have no business losing, when they get shut down by a guy making his 2nd career start, when the bullpen blows a Quality Start, when they go 1x13 w/RISP, when they go 0-4 at home in the World Series. Obviously I've had an Astros blog for over 11 years. I've been on Twitter for almost 11 years and have not changed my banner photo once. The Astros are a part of me. Not anywhere close to all of me, but I do spend a lot of time thinking and writing about this particular organization because I was really homesick in Upstate New York in 2008.

Many of you know I'm a public high school history teacher. I also coach soccer. The 2016-17 school year was the absolute hardest year of my life. I taught US History and AP US History for the first time each, and I was in charge of my own team under a ridiculously demanding boss with whose personality I clashed on an atomic level. So I would get home from a road game and an almost-two-hour bus ride and have to then prepare for two different classes the next day.

I love - truly love - two sports teams: the Houston Astros, and Leeds United. I was at the game that sent Leeds to the Champions League quarterfinals WITHOUT Robbie Keane and Eirik Bakke and Rio Ferdinand and Olivier Dacourt! (Leeds United has been a train-wreck since 2003 - it was a real bad time when the Astros AND Leeds were both just complete disasters and affronts to their sport). This was how I was spending my leisure time. Anyhow, when, on June 3, 2017 - the final day of the hardest year I've ever encountered - the Astros beat the Rangers to go to 40-16, the 2017 Astros brought me joy. Later that Autumn, a team I actually loved actually did something. They won the World Series. Since then it has been Hans Gruber falling from Nakatomi: they traded for Osuna, Taubman did Taubman things, Fiers talked to Evan Drellich. It's all shadows now. To me, it's tainted. It doesn't need an asterisk, the asterisk is implied. Were other teams doing it? Maybe, probably, I don't know. I know a lot of people worked really hard to get that World Series and, as advanced as the Astros were with analytics, a freaking trash can, the guy the Astros let walk to the Mets, and the Other Guy From The Carlos Gomez Trade, brought them down.

No one will ever replace the feeling I had at 10:59pm on November 1, 2017. But I know now that it's not the same, that there is shame involved. And if the players don't feel it themselves, I sure do.

Throughout this offseason I have considered shutting Astros County Dot Com down. Getting Randos (and, to be honest, some friends I've known for a long time) in my mentions blasting me for having the gall to be happy for 25 guys doing cool things who happen to have "Houston" stitched across the front of their shirt is not fun. I simultaneously want the Astros to beat the hell out of everybody and also to not have done what they did. And what they did was to cheat their way to the postseason. I'll go to my grave wondering how Alex Bregman could hear a trash can getting hit with 42000 people yelling at the top of their lungs in the bottom of the 10th of Game 5. I'll also go to my grave wondering why a team with that much talent would risk it all. No one - including Mike Fiers - has turned in their Ring, so maybe that's why I'm going to keep this dumb blog going for the time being.

I was not immediately affected by Hurricane Harvey. My mom and my dad live on different sides of Houston. Neither of their houses flooded. I've met a lot of you in real life. I know a lot of you on Twitter. I'll go with the maxim (which I didn't come up with) that Facebook is for friends who are now strangers, and Twitter is for strangers who are now friends. The 2017 World Series saved a lot of you - it was a welcome respite when your world was literally floating away or rotting under floodwaters (which Yankees fans would like to have happen every single year). Now, I'm just sad. I'm beaten down by pretty much everything. The Apologies are hollow because it didn't need to come to this in the first place.

That said, I don't think the Astros were the only team dabbling in the "dark arts" of using technology MLB made available for an edge. Still, when you're the first one caught, it's not pleasant. And you can bet that if Even Drellich With Reporting From Ken Rosenthal (the Carlos Santana feat. Rob Thomas of our generation) tugs at this thread long enough, he/they could unravel the whole thing. I just don't know if they will, or if the Fury of Baseball can stay stoked long enough to care if another team did.

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Friday Morning Hot Links