Astros Players Met With Team Execs To Talk Press Conference Strategy
The 10 players still on the Astros roster who were part of the '17 World Series-winning team held an hour-long meeting Wednesday night with team Owner Jim Crane, new GM James Click and manager Dusty Baker where they "discussed how they wanted to handle" Thursday's widely-panned press conference, according to the Houston Chronicle's Chandler Rome. The group discussed the fallout from the sign-stealing scandal, though Baker, who was hired last month following the ouster of A.J. Hinch, "didn't speak very much." Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were picked to speak for the players during Thursday's press conference, which ultimately featured a "pretty uncomfortable Q&A with Jim Crane, who really stepped over himself a couple of times (and) said some things that were very contradictory" ("Texas Sports Nation: The Podcast," HOUSTONCHRONICLE.com, 2/13). NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote the Astros "had months to prepare" for Thursday's press conference, but the result was a "statement of defiance by the team's owner and two less-than-one-minute statements by two players that were quite clearly crafted by PR professionals and implored people to look forward rather than back" (NBCSPORTS.com, 2/13). In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington writes Altuve and Bregman "weren't as tone deaf" as Crane, but their "terse, well-coached apologies at the news conference did little to mollify critics" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/14).
UNSATISFYING FEELING: In DC, Adam Kilgore notes the Astros attempted to use Thursday's press conference to "cleanse their season of the vitriol they faced all winter" in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal, but they instead "left most within the baseball universe unsatisfied." The baseball world "wanted more from the Astros -- more remorse, more accountability, more explanations" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/14). In DC, Matthew Paras writes the "tone-deaf press conference did little if anything to soothe the increasingly angry reaction" to the team's scandal (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/14). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy notes more "clarifications and better answers will be sought in the wake" of Thursday's presser (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/14). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes the press conference was "hardly the mea culpa that will convince an angry public, or calm furious peers around baseball, but this is the Astros' story" (USA TODAY, 2/14). SI.com's Stephanie Apstein wrote the press conference "occasionally veered into absurdity." Apstein: "The Astros still haven't decided what story they want to tell about what they did. They're not even sure they want to use that phrasing" (SI.com, 2/13). In N.Y., Bradford Davis writes the presser was "littered with claims that were vapid, incorrect, easily disproven, and frankly, kinda hilarious" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/14).
THEIR OWN WORST ENEMY: THE ATHLETIC's Ken Rosenthal wrote the Astros "intended to express remorse and then move forward" with this new season, but instead they "again struggled to get out of their own way" (THEATHLETIC.com, 2/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote the team's apology was "delivered in the kind of clumsy, ridiculous nonsensical fashion we've come to know and expect." Wetzel: "The Houston Astros are good at cheating. ... The Houston Astros are not good at apologies" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/13). MLB Network's Brian Kenny said, "From a PR standard, (the Astros) are consistent. They have no clue how to handle difficult situations" ("MLB Now," MLB Network, 2/13). ABC's Will Reeve said, "Sincerity, humility and accountability are some of the hallmarks of a good apology and crisis management. But by most accounts, those attributes were absent from yesterday's press conference and left in its wake, only backlash" ("GMA," ABC, 2/14). In Seattle, Larry Stone writes colleges one day will "teach a course on the Astros as an example of how not to conduct crisis management" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/14). MLB Network's Chris Russo said if the Astros "used a consulting firm to set up this whole press conference idea ... fire them and get another one." Russo: "A horrendous job by the franchise" ("High Heat," MLB Network, 2/13).
PLAYERS EXPRESS GENUINE REGRET: In Houston, Brian Smith writes the clubhouse "apology tour" that followed the press conference was "significantly more sincere" than what was said initially. After Altuve and Bregman gave "brief, wooden statements behind a podium, two of the Astros' biggest stars opened up in front of their lockers" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/14). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck writes Altuve "appeared genuinely remorseful" at his locker, though he "seemed to dodge questions about the widely circulated suspicion that he was wearing an electronic signaling device under his jersey when he hit his memorable walk-off home run" in the '19 ALCS (BALTIMORE SUN, 2/14). ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said, "As bad as the press conference was, it got much better in the clubhouse." Astros SS Carlos Correa "was very honest" when addressing the scandal. He "used the word 'cheating,' he used phrases like how it impacted other players on other teams. He spoke the right words." However Kurkjian said, "It's not that this is over now that they have apologized. There's still a lot more to come" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/13).