WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Houston Astros profusely apologized Thursday for cheating throughout their World Series championship season, knowing it was wrong.
Yet, they also refused to discredit their 2017 World Series title, adamantly believing they would have won the championship anyways, trash can pounding or not.
It was hardly the apology that will soothe an angry public, or their angry peers throughout the game.
They aren't forfeiting their $438,901.57 World Series checks.
They aren’t going to personally call and apologize to the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, the three teams they defeated during their playoff run.
The Astros simply don’t believe they were the only ones cheating.
Two members of the Astros organization told USA TODAY Sports that they were told several teams were also cheating by using live video feeds during the season, but no one else has been caught.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The Red Sox are the only team that’s currently being investigated by Major League Baseball.
Astros' Jose Altuve carries a bat as he heads out to hit. (Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP)
Still, for now, the Astros will wear it.
Go ahead and believe they were smarter than everyone else, and that no one could have figured out how to use live video feed.
Go ahead and believe that the Astros were the only ones who were immoral, dared to act unethically, cheating when everyone else was clean.
The Astros can’t wait for the day when MLB launches investigations into other teams, when there are more whistleblowers besides their former teammate, Mike Fiers, or whether secret documents are leaked.
For now, they’ve got no choice but to wear it.
They’ll be Baseball’s Ugly Duckling for the season, with fans taunting them on the road, opposing teams deliberately hitting them with pitches, and perhaps even threats that summon extra security.
Certainly, the Astros aren’t about to ask for sympathy. They’ve had enough public-relation catastrophes to realize that would never fly.
No one wants to hear any excuses.
They are tired of everyone blaming former teammate Carlos Beltran, who was fired as the New York Mets manager, and not around to defend himself.
They don’t want to hear former manager A.J. Hinch saying any longer that he is solely responsible because he didn’t stop it.
They want players to be accountable, and for 90 minutes Thursday morning in front of about 100 media members and 15 TV crews, the Astros accepted their culpability.
“There’s no excuse,’’ Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said. “We were wrong for everything we did in 2017. It's not what we stand for and it's not what we want to portray as an organization. We feel really sorry.
“We affected careers. We affected the game in some way. It was just bad.’’
The players refused to blame anyone in the organization for their actions. It was on them. Sure, it’s easy to say that if Hinch didn’t like it, he could have stopped it. It’s simple to say they were intimidated by the clubhouse culture created by former bench coach Alex Cora and Beltran.
It would also be grossly irresponsible and reckless.
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"Carlos Beltran was the nicest guy we ever had,’’ Correa said, “the greatest teammate we ever had. He was obviously a leader of the clubhouse, but we all had a say in everything we were doing in there. Whatever he said and whatever we were doing, we had the chance to stop it, as a team. Everybody. Everybody had the chance to say something, and we didn’t.
“So, whoever the anonymous source is that we were intimidated or too young to say something ,that’s just straight-up (expletive). Beltran didn’t intimidate anybody. You can talk to anybody in here. Beltran is an unbelievable gentleman, a straight-up gentleman, and nobody would be intimidated by him.’’
So, as one, they apologized before their first spring-training workout.
They aren’t asking for forgiveness.
They know you may hate them forever.
Yet, they also know there’s no way in the world that they were the only team in Major League Baseball cheating by using live feeds from monitors.
“People,’’ Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. said, “can draw their own conclusion.’’
There will be a day when the Astros can talk more freely on it.
There may even be a time where they can hint at the other teams they suspected doing the same thing.
This wasn’t the day.
They’ll take the hits for now.
Just know this storm isn’t about to go away, and it will hardly be confined to just the Astros.
Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale
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