Astros: Jim Crane deserves praise for handling of scandal

Astros owner Jim Crane handled the sign stealing scandal the right way.

Many of us in the Astros fan community are still reeling from last week’s results of MLB’s investigation into the club’s illegal sign stealing operation. We’ve seen the reputation of the organization and its players tarnished and dragged through the mud. But owner Jim Crane has provided a bright spot.

His decision to immediately fire GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch was a surprise, and it’s been met with mixed reaction by fans. It couldn’t have been easy; Luhnow and Hinch were two of the best in the business at their respective jobs and helped usher in this current era of Astros success.

The commissioner’s report even noted that Luhnow and Hinch were not involved in the sign stealing scheme, but they failed to put a stop to it and to see that the rule violations didn’t take place. In essence, they failed to adequately oversee the people below them.

Good PR

Crane could easily have let Luhnow and Hinch serve their one-year suspensions and return to the club after the 2020 season. But moving forward with those two at the helm would have cast suspicion on future Astros teams and made it look like the franchise wasn’t serious about the rule violations.

Besides, Crane would then have had to find people to take their jobs on a temporary basis, and there aren’t too many qualified candidates who would be willing to do that. It’s easier to get the best people on board when their job doesn’t have a set expiration date.

Beyond that, it’s the way Crane handled the announcement that sets him apart. He got up there at the press conference completely on his own; he didn’t use a spokesperson or have a lawyer alongside him. He sat there and took the questions himself, making it clear that he was in charge and was taking the matter seriously.

He didn’t hide or try to sweep anything under the rug. He took action swiftly and decisively at a time when so many people in his position would have done everything to avoid making unpopular decisions or answering uncomfortable questions.

He cleaned house and is starting fresh, ostensibly bringing in people who won’t allow this kind of thing to happen on their watch. It’s exactly what the Astros need at a time when their image across the sport is about as bad as it can be.

Crane can’t do anything about the players, of course, who are the main culprits but have escaped discipline. He can’t just gut the team. But getting rid of the people who allowed the players to get away with it is about the best he can do. He’s represented the franchise well and doing everything he can to repair its image. For that, he deserves our praise.