WINNING COMES AT A PRICE

Here’s the one problem that is still stumping MLB’s most successful analytics guru

Sorry goes a long way. Composite image by Jack Brame.

You know Earth is about to spin off its axis when the sitting President of the United States is suing to have a free election overturned … and that's only the second most-stupifying court case on the docket.

Disgraced Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is suing the Astros for breach of contract and $22 million. Luhnow claims that Astros owner Jim Crane unjustly fired him as part of a shady deal with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred that allowed the Astros to keep their 2017 World Series title.

The lawsuit is a 17-page document filed in Harris County District Court. Here's the Cliff's Notes version: Luhnow says he was an innocent scapegoat in a "negotiated settlement" between the Astros and Manfred. Luhnow claims that he had "no knowledge" and "played no part" in the Astros sign-stealing scheme during 2017 and 2018.

Luhnow wants the Astros to pay him the guaranteed $22 million in salary, performance bonuses, profits, interest and benefits he lost when Crane fired him (along with team manager A.J. Hinch) last January.

Luhnow claims that MLB's investigation into the scandal included interviews with 70 witnesses, and only one, a mid-level Astros executive, fingered Luhnow as the culprit. Luhnow says the Astros employee was told he could keep his job if he ratted out Luhnow.

In collateral damage, Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Boston manager Alex Cora also lost their jobs because of their involvement in the scandal. Cora was the Astros bench manager during 2017. After that season, Cora was hired to manage the Red Sox and guided them to the World Series title in 2018.

Hinch immediately apologized for not doing more to stop the Astros from illegally stealing signs. Cora eventually apologized, too. Luhnow never admitted any guilt and protested his innocence, from the start and more recently in an exclusive interview with Channel 2 sports reporter Vanessa Richardson. The day after Luhnow's interview ran on air, Manfred stood his ground, saying, "He (Luhnow) damaged the game and as a result he was disciplined."

Now that the dust has somewhat settled, Hinch is the new manager of the Detroit Tigers, and Cora is back as manager of the Red Sox.

And unapologetic Jeff Luhnow? Elton John was right, sorry really does seem to be the hardest word. Even if Luhnow is telling the truth and didn't know about the Astros' shenanigans, and it's possible he didn't, he was the boss and should suck it up and accept the consequences.

Hinch and Cora took their lumps and now they're back. Luhnow, by suing the Astros and attacking the commissioner, well, good luck finding another job in baseball.

Sorry goes a long way. Tiger Woods owned up to his "infidelities" and "affairs," and it looked like millions of cheering fans followed him up the 18th fairway of the 2019 Masters, all forgiven.

Alex Rodriguez admitted that he lied about taking steroids and cheating baseball, served his suspension, and offered a hand-written apology to fans. Today A-Rod is practically the face of baseball, working for both ESPN and Fox. He's a multi-gazillionaire on ABC's Shark Tank. Oh, and he's engaged to Jennifer Lopez.

Kobe Bryant was accused of sexual assault. He tearfully apologized to his wife in public, saying "I sit here in front of you guys, furious at myself, disgusted in myself, for making the mistake of adultery." For that, plus his tragic death, he's Saint Kobe.

Remember when Andy Pettitte nearly broke down in tears admitting that he took a performance enhancing substance (HGH)? He was welcomed back to baseball. The next time he took the mound, fans gave him a standing ovation.

Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds have never admitted knowingly taking steroids. Whether they did or not, despite their historic careers, it's unlikely they'll be voted into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose lied so many times about betting on baseball that when he ultimately fessed up, he was a lost cause and he'll never see Cooperstown, either. Same with Lance Armstrong, too late to salvage his reputation and legacy.

I know that it would kill Luhnow to apologize for his role in the Astros scandal, especially if he deep down believes that he's innocent. Remember what the famous legal scholar George Costanza said, "It's not a lie if you believe it."

Innocent or guilty, Luhnow would have been better off, possibly running a big league baseball team today, if he had said "sorry." He may never recover professionally, at least not in MLB, from suing the Astros. Baseball owners stick together.

These days, if someone says to me, "Why did you …?," I immediately apologize. "You're right, I'm sorry. I'll never do it again. Now tell me what I did."

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Texans training camp observations from 8/10. Still footage by Cody Stoots.

The Houston Texans inched closer to their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from a hotly contested practice.

1. Derek Stingley did it again. The rookie continues to get more and more work. It had been rare to see Stingley win a big rep against Brandin Cooks, but that changed Wednesday. Cooks planted and turned for a comeback route as Davis Mills was letting the ball go. Stingley planted himself, and I didn’t think he would make it to the ball. Well, not only did he make it, but he also had an interception bounce off his hands. The defense had a little buzz to it after the play from the rookie. It was an example of the eye-popping potential and continued growth for Stingley.

2. A few plays later, Stingley showed his agility and closing speed on a play where he ended up defending Nico Collins. It was a different task for Stingley, but he recognized where the ball was headed and went to close on Collins. Collins dropped the pass, but even had he caught it, Stingley was there to keep it a short gain.

3. Jalen Pitre was named a starter on the team’s unofficial initial depth chart. He’s earned it. Pitre flashes constantly and some of the early hiccups from camp are no longer present. Pitre skied over Brandin Cooks, didn’t interfere, and knocked a ball away. He’s going to be a must-watch in the preseason games.

4. Dameon Pierce has a nice burst and he’s stocky, but on Wednesday I saw some patience and vision from him. The rookie running back darted through a slow-developing hole for a big gain. Pierce catches the ball a fair amount as well, despite the fact his college games didn’t feature that a ton when you watched him play at Florida.

5. I was concerned about Dameon Pierce’s pass blocking, and I still want to see what it looks like at full speed. Wednesday showed he has a decent idea of what to accomplish. Pierce chipped a rusher that was about to beat the offensive tackle, allowing Davis Mills to complete a huge play to Brandin Cooks.

6. Davis Mills and Brandin Cooks finally hooked up on a long pass and made it look easy. It was in stride, on target, and went for a gain of over 30 yards. Mills had to step up a little to make the throw. It was a tight pocket, and he dropped it right into the bread basket of Cooks. It elicited the biggest cheer of the day from the fans in attendance.

7. Towards the end of practice, it was Davis Mills and Brandin Cooks again. The situational football was in full effect as the offense was drilling a 4th and 10 from the 20-yard-line setup. Mills had to buy a little time, and the offensive line held up well, but he saw Cooks coming open and fired to the back corner of the end zone. Two feet for Brandin Cooks and a touchdown. The defense was exasperated. They’d done almost all they could to contain Cooks.

8. It wasn’t the best day overall from the offense. In part, the defense had some nice plays. There was a little sloppiness from the offense overall. Some were almost connections. I will say though, that one bad play doesn’t feel like it dooms the offense anymore. There is hope if there is ever a negative play or an incomplete pass. It didn’t feel that way last season.

9. Maliek Collins might be a problem this year. For opposing teams, I mean, not the Texans. Collins had a couple of bad penalties last year and came up close on a few plays. He again had a nice play that would have resulted in a sack. It’s fun to see his potential show in camp, I am excited to see him and All-Pro guard, Quenton Nelson, in week one of the season.

10. Kevin Pierre-Lewis is healthy and ready to contribute. He was step for step on a Brandin Cooks wheel route that ended up being an incomplete pass. With some injuries in the linebacker group, the veteran has a chance to start or at least play a lot.

11. The preseason game is on Saturday against the Saints. Here are four players on offense and four players on defense I will be watching very closely. On offense guard Max Scharping, running back Dameon Pierce, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, and wide receiver Chad Beebe is who I will be looking for the most. On defense edge rusher Rasheem Green, defensive tackle Kurt Hinish, linebacker Neville Hewitt, and any rookie who plays.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome