Astros Owner Jim Crane: MLB 'Explicitly Exonerated' Me in Sign-Stealing Scandal

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2020

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane speaks during a news conference before the start of the first official spring training baseball practice for the team Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) ;
Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The Houston Astros dominated baseball-related headlines for much of Major League Baseball's offseason with their sign-stealing scandal, but owner Jim Crane wanted to clarify he had nothing to do with the rules violations.

"I was not involved in any alleged rules violations by the Astros," he wrote in a motion, per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. "Major League Baseball conducted an investigation into potential rules violations by the Astros. That report explicitly exonerated me and stated that I was unaware of and had no involvement in any rules violations by the Astros."

Kaplan noted the motion was aimed to end the summons for a deposition in a lawsuit filed by former major leaguer Mike Bolsinger and either dismiss the case outright or move it to Texas. 

Kaplan also cited the league's report on the scandal that came out Jan. 13 and said it did not use the word "exonerated" when referencing the owner.

However, Commissioner Rob Manfred did seem to clear Crane of any wrongdoing when he wrote the following:

"At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested."

While Crane escaped any suspension, his team was fined $5 million and stripped of its first- and second-round draft picks for 2020 and 2021 as a result of the scandal.

Then-general manager Jeff Luhnow and then-manager AJ Hinch were each suspended for a year, and Crane's Astros fired them both in the aftermath of the punishments.

Crane was part of the Astros' press conference apology at spring training before the league halted play due to the coronavirus pandemic. His apology was widely criticized, and ESPN's Jeff Passan said it "blew up in spectacular fashion."

The owner said he should not be held responsible for the team's cheating scandal and also said the sign stealing did not impact the result of games. He then denied saying the sign stealing didn't impact the game a minute after he did.

Houston defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2017 World Series. Los Angeles also lost the 2018 Fall Classic to the Boston Red Sox, who have also been investigated for sign stealing.

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