What in the ever-living #(%* was that?
On Thursday, Astros players including José (Tender Nipples) Altuve and Alex (Cruel To Be Kind) Bregman took the stage, along with Master of Ceremonies Jim Crane and Dusty (I’ve Been in Baseball a Long Time and Managed the Ivy Bumblers Through Bartman But I’ve Never Quite Seen a Shitshow Like This) Baker, in yet another attempt to show a modicum of remorse for cheating their way to a World Series win in 2017 and trying their damndest to repeat the feat since.
In this endeavor, the Houston Astros failed. Top to bottom, left to right, north to south. The end effect for those of us watching, mouths agape, was wishing the Atlantic Ocean would bust a brief Old Testament rise and suck the Astros half of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches complex deep into the surf.
Bregman, looking more a Manchurian MVP Candidate by the day, was first up, with a three-pitch whiff. Altuve followed, echoing the “we regret” mantra like an android:
#Astros’ Alex Bregman apologizes for sign-stealing scandal. Jose Altuve also speaks on behalf of the Houston players, who want to move forward as the team opens spring training. #MLB #SpringTraining pic.twitter.com/MwOY8TWwFv— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) February 13, 2020
Next came owner Crane, whose chutzpah would be offensive if it wasn’t so Pythonesque:
"Our opinion is that this didn't impact the game." - Jim Crane— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 13, 2020
"I didn't say it didn't impact the game." - Jim Crane 55 seconds later pic.twitter.com/MnpPeeTUPL
There was more. Down the line, Astros players echoed the notion that they had regret (for getting caught), want to move on, thanks to the fans, wink-wink nudge-nudge. Throughout, parenthetically, they issued blanket fuck-yous to the fans of 29 other teams.
I mean, I can paw through the shrapnel of what’s left of baseball’s integrity and embed more video that’s going to piss you off. Maybe I could purple prose this thing up enought goad some Astros fans to head on over and troll us with wailing like “Bregman could have offered Altuve as a human sacrifice and it wouldn’t have satisfied anyone” (yes, this paraphrases an actual tweet from a real, live Houston sports media member) or points of order that many Astros were swarmed in the clubhouse and took “considerable heat” while speaking for upwards of 30 minutes on the scandal.
But what’s the point? It’s done.
Not a single outcome from successive 100-plus win seasons will be erased.
No one’s taking the 2017 World Series title away.
No Astro is offering his almost-half a mil World Series share to charity, as suggested by Noted Lunatic Who Nonetheless Never Wiped His Ass With Baseball’s Morals Clause, Rob Dibble.
Twins infielder Marwin González, who actually indicated some faint remorse for dicking over baseball in 2017, isn’t forfeiting his consequential, ill-begotten outlier of a two-year, $21 million deal with Minnesota.
Josh Reddick literally said he didn’t think it was necessary to apologize to his friends on other teams for perpetrating this scam on the game.
Grandpa Justin Verlander, who once nearly had a stroke on the mound when Tim Anderson attempted to steal on a 3-0 count in the middle of a game the Astros led 5-0, lamented how “difficult” Houston’s hoax on the majors has been, more woe-is-me verbiage from a Hall of Fame arm with an empty conscience and a tin heart.
George Springer, who has set himself up for a megaplus boomtown deal when he hits free agency after the season on the begotten gains of Houston’s trash can offense, actually spoke this wafer-thin apology into existence: “I’m sorry that we’re in this situation today and I regret the fact that we are in this situation today.”
Somehow, the Astros keep making this worse. They’ve taken several runs at responding to their scandal like human beings, yet fall on their faces every time.
I wish I could revel in their absolute inability to say the right thing — even to lie white, and tell us what we want to hear. It would be nice to delight in the inevitable consequences of this Satan soul selling they’ve perpetrated: Falling short year after year, freak injuries, bad bounces, forever objects of revulsion and disgust.
But I can’t. The Astros pulled it off. They cheated the hell out of the game, and, with assistance from commissioner Rob Manfred, taffy-soft ex-manager A.J. Hinch, and “the player’s code,” got away with it.
The cloud roiling over baseball after this pusillanimous skullduggery won’t dissipate this season. No amount of rollick on the South Side can completely clear the air for us, 1,000 miles north of the toxicity. The shadow cast by these craven clowns will stick like a Stoolie’s vomit, an Axe body-sprayer’s poseury, and Verlander’s misbegotten righteousness to Manfred, Bregman, Altuve, Springer, the collective Astros ... and, ultimately, baseball.
The sport will wear the stench of these sniveling milksops for seasons to come.
Try as we may to scrub the smell off, it’s stuck on us all.