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Rob Manfred on Recent Astros Apology: 'It Was Not Successful'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred weighed in on the Astros' recent apology in an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech. Many outside of baseball viewed the team's mid-week apology to be a public relation disaster and Manfred was blunt when asked his thoughts on the team's recent comments. 

"It was not successful," Manfred said.

On Thursday, Astros owner Jim Crane, 3B Alex Bregman and 2B Jose Altuve were among those from the organization who addressed the team's scandal and MLB's ensuing punishment at a press conference in West Palm Beach, Fla. At one point, Crane said that, “Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game."  

He was asked to clarify his comments to which he responded, "I didn’t say it didn’t impact the game."

In the days since, countless players, both current and former Astros as well as others from around the league, have continued discussing the controversy which has dominated conversations throughout baseball's offseason.

"I think there intentions may be different than the way that it came off," Manfred said of Thursday's comments. "But I understand the reaction to the press conference and I think that the organization, the Astros, the individual players almost immediately realized the need to do more. And that's why you've seen players out there talking about this individually."

Manfred also told ESPN that he didn't initially punish any active players in the scandal as he believed any discipline of the players would have likely resulted in grievances from the Major League Baseball Players Association, citing now former GM Jeff Luhnow's failure to communicate to Houston players the contents of a 2017 memorandum outlining MLB's policy on the use of technology.

He noted that conversations about stripping the Astros of their World Series title was something that MLB "talked about and analyzed extensively" ahead of releasing their initial findings. 

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"I am a believer in the idea that precedent happens and when you deviated from that, you have to have a very good reason," he said. "The report gave people a transparent account of what went on...

"The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back, seems like a futile act. People will always know that something was different about the 2017 season, and whether we made that decision right or wrong, we undertook a thorough investigation, and had the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty."

Manfred additionally added that MLB will institute new rules to police the use of technology before the 2020 season. ESPN's 45-minute conversation with Manfred can be seen here. 

In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, Manfred said he has considered making video rooms unavailable to teams once games start. The only monitor available to a team could be a replay screen with an MLB security official standing next to it.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Friday that MLB and MLBPA are "not said to be far apart" in a new agreement that would help prevent electronic sign stealing, but that it’s unclear how quickly a deal will be struck.

On Jan. 13, Manfred released a nine-page report detailing how Houston cheated during the 2017–18 regular seasons and postseasons. Manfred suspended Astros manager AJ Hinch and Luhnow through the 2020 World Series, but team owner Jim Crane subsequently fired them.

In the wake of the scandal, the Red Sox and Mets later parted ways with managers Alex Cora and Carlos Beltrán after both men were named in MLB's report. Cora served as the Astros' bench coach in 2017, while Beltrán was a member of the World Series-winning roster.

Manfred is also expected to hold a press conference at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.