Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he has some regrets over his handling of the Houston Astros‘ sign-stealing scandal, admitting in a recent interview that granting immunity to the players was “maybe not my best decision ever.”
MLB did not punish any Houston players after a league investigation confirmed the Astros had cheated by using a camera-based sign-stealing system during the regular season and playoffs of their World Series-winning 2017 season and during part of the 2018 regular season.
Manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for the entire 2020 season and eventually fired by the Astros, who also lost draft picks and were fined $5 million. But the players’ immunity drew widespread criticism of Manfred, who said “there are some decisions that I would like to have back,” in a wide-ranging interview with Time.
“I’m not sure that I would have approached it with giving players immunity,” Manfred told Time, which published the interview Wednesday. “Once we gave players immunity, it puts you in a box as to what exactly you were going to do in terms of punishment.
“I might have gone about the investigative process without that grant of immunity and see where it takes us. Starting with, I’m not going to punish anybody, maybe not my best decision ever.”
Some members of the 2017 Astros still are booed in road ballparks and vilified by opponents, an outcome Manfred alluded to during an interview with ESPN in 2020 when he defended his decision.
White Sox pitcher Keynan Middleton called Twins shortstop Carlos Correa “a cheater” last month after striking out the former Astros star — the latest example that some in the MLB community have not forgotten the saga. Manfred said he also regrets adding to the furor when he referred to the World Series trophy as “a piece of metal” during his 2020 interview with ESPN.
“There are some decisions that I would like to have back,” he told Time. “There’s absolutely no question about that. Some of the decisions surrounding the Houston situation, would like to have those back.
“I mean, if I could take back the rather flip comment I made about the World Series trophy at one time, I’d take that one back. There have been times, particularly in times of pressure, when I look back, taking a little more time might have led to a different outcome.”
Rob Manfred says granting Astros immunity ‘not my best decision’