The Twins’ Marwin Gonzalez didn’t fix the issue, but he did take a positive step on Tuesday when he showed up in Fort Myers, Fla., for spring training and seemed sincere in his apology for the sins of the sign-stealing Houston Astros. Gonzalez played a key role on the Astros’ 2017 World Series championship club and made it sound as if he felt real remorse for his involvement.
That made Gonzalez the first position player from that team to issue a mea culpa.
On Thursday, every bit of potential good that was done by Gonzalez was blown up when the Astros somehow managed to take a terrible situation and make it worse when arrogant owner Jim Crane and his team addressed their cheating ways in West Palm Beach, Fla. This included having new manager Dusty Baker, who had no part in the cheating, speak at the press conference and players Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve give statements that sounded like poorly written book reports by a third grader.
This pathetic display by the Astros and Major League Baseball comes on a day when it’s supposed to get to 11 degrees below zero in the Twin Cities. The Twins’ pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this week and the team will begin full workouts on Monday. The Twins are coming off their first American League Central title since 2010 and have high hopes after signing big-name free agent Josh Donaldson and adding starter Kent Maeda in a trade that is expected to make Minnesota one of the best teams in the AL.
This time of year — on a frigid day — we should be looking forward to baseball season and the fact that spring isn’t that away.
Instead, there is no way to get past the point that the Twins are in a league, and playing a sport, that is doing its best to destroy itself. Not just embarrass itself, but destroy itself. The Astros cheated their way to a championship and instead of trying to make things right many of them spent Thursday morning being as defiant as possible.
This is the same organization that last season initially tried to dismiss the fact its assistant general manager, Brandon Taubman, went on an expletive-filled tirade toward a group of female reporters after winning the AL pennant. Taubman’s intimidation tactics involved his attempt to celebrate the fact the Astros employed pitcher Roberto Osuna, who had been acquired in July 2018, while he was serving a 75-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy.
The Astros’ inept media relations department initially called a report by Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein “misleading” before other reporters came forward to say there was nothing misleading about Apstein’s story. Taubman eventually was fired.
This latest sign-stealing fiasco was bad enough but Crane and his franchise have managed to make it worse by being unable to do any form of crisis management. Commissioner Rob Manfred has only made it worse by not suspending any of the players involved — Gonzalez and Co., should get at least 50 games apiece — instead counting on them to corporate with the investigation and suffer no consequences.
If you’re a baseball fan, there are countless things to be angry about when it comes to this situation. We have no idea how many teams were using advanced technology to cheat and baseball’s incompetence and arrogance cause us to surmise the number is probably higher than any of us would like to believe.
But today our anger should be directed at one place: The Houston Astros. A group that got caught cheating its way to a championship and was arrogant enough to believe that providing a one-day apology would be enough to make us forget. There are numerous Astros employees who probably deserve to lose their job but what we saw Thursday made it clear the issue starts at the top.
Twins owner Jim Pohlad and his fellow owners should be on the phone today to Manfred — who will need to get out from below his desk to answer calls — demanding that there is only one thing that can begin to fix this mess. That would be forcing Crane to sell the team. MLB can take control of the franchise for now — that’s also not ideal, but it’s better than Crane being in charge — and look to get an ownership group that would have a clue.
Crane looked like a fool on Thursday because he believed we were foolish enough to buy his nonsense. He also oversaw a franchise were a key employee of his decided it was OK to berate female reporters in order to defend a player who had been suspended for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy. This all falls on Crane and no one else.
In this case, two strikes should be enough. Spring training is starting and baseball is kicking of its season by being a complete joke. Kicking Crane out of ownership club isn’t going to fix that but it would be sending an important message. If you can’t control your team — and Crane clearly can’t — then you don’t get to own one.