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A.J. Hinch Says Astros' Sign-Stealing Scandal Put a 'Cloud over the Sport'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 13, 2021

Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch acknowledged the far-reaching effects of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal that came during his tenure with the organization.

"I do believe that we did some good things in Houston," Hinch told reporters Monday. "I do believe we were wrong in the behavior and the decisions that we made in 2017, and it’s hard to have that cloud over the sport and be responsible for that and be the man that was that was the manager that it happened on my watch."

Following an investigation into the sign-stealing allegations, MLB suspended Hinch for the 2020 season. The final report from Commissioner Rob Manfred said he "neither devised the banging scheme nor participated in it." He was nonetheless punished for failing to do enough to bring the scheme to an end.

Even after having served his suspension, Hinch continues to display a level of contrition.

"It’s something I take very seriously," he said. "I will continue to apologize not only to the Houston fans, but to all the fans around baseball and continue to repeat how wrong it was. And for that, we’re going to have to live with that for the rest of our careers. It’s part of my story."

Purely in terms of official fallout, the story is largely over. Hinch and Alex Cora, who was also implicated in the report, are back in MLB dugouts. None of the active players were named, and MLB didn't strip the Astros of their 2017 World Series title.

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Carlos Beltran remains the biggest casualty, having gotten fired by the New York Mets as  their manager once his role in the sign-stealing operation became clear.

But with a full year having transpired since Manfred's report, the saga remains a sore spot for many. Especially with fans returning to stadiums, the Astros are becoming a regular target for hecklers.

The specter of the steroid era continues to follow legends such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez.

Sooner or later, the heckling will probably die down, but the memory of the scandal is unlikely to go away in the years ahead.