By Sam Bush

The Astros opened spring training yesterday and tried to apologize for the illicit sign-stealing operation that has shaken the major league baseball.

Many rivals found their answers and apologies lacking or misguided, particularly owner Jim Crane’s assertion that the team’s sign-stealing did not affect outcomes and should not taint Houston’s 2017 World Series title.

At a morning news conference that included brief statements from team leaders José Altuve and Alex Bregman and featured Crane taking questions from a horde of reporters, Crane clumsily said the Astros’ cheating “didn’t impact the game,” only to retract the sentiment a minute later without saying the 2017 championship should be seen in a different light.

Astros players roundly agreed with Crane that their title should not be diminished, and players provided few details on how and why the scheme pervaded. The baseball world wanted more from the Astros — more remorse, more accountability, more explanations.

Astros say they are sorry but draw a line when it comes to questioning 2017 World Series title.

“I saw a couple of interviews, and they all said pretty much the same thing. They skated by everything. They swept everything under the rug,” Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea, who has competed in the same division as the Astros for his entire four-year career, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They didn’t own up to anything and they’re trying to move on, which is like” ‘What are you guys trying to move on from? You haven’t even said what it is you did.’ They just now said they’re sorry, but what about this entire offseason? It was like, deny, deny, deny. When the time comes, you have to say what you’re trying to move on from. It’s crazy.”

The Astros attempted to use Thursday to cleanse their season of the vitriol they faced all winter. It left most within the baseball universe unsatisfied.

“That’s it?” 11-year veteran David Freese wrote on Twitter late Thursday afternoon. “What a f*#*!!! joke. I’m old, retired, out of the game so [disregard] my thoughts but damn. … All people want is something from the heart if it’s there. Something!!”


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