Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a new interview that he wishes he handled the Astros' sign stealing controversy differently, confessing that "taking a little more time might have led to a different outcome."
Manfred, commissioner since 2015, started the league's investigation into the Astros' sign stealing during their 2017 championship winning season in 2019, after The Athletic published an article alleging that the Astros had an illegal competitive advantage. MLB found the Astros violated league rules and used cameras to steal and decode opposing teams' signs throughout the 2017 season and for part of the 2018 season. The scheme was "player-driven and player-executed," according to Manfred's report.
Despite the system being player-led, Manfred refused to punish the players involved. He said there were too many involved to punish all of them and that he started a precedent in 2017 of holding front offices and coaches accountable for this type of misconduct.
However, as part of a wider interview with Time Magazine released Wednesday, Manfred admitted that he might've made a mistake granting immunity to the players.
"Starting with, I'm not going to punish anybody, maybe not my best decision ever," he said. "Once we gave players immunity, it puts you in a box as to what exactly you were going to do in terms of punishment. I might have gone about the investigative process without that grant of immunity and see where it takes us."
All in all, it seems that Manfred still feels he could've done more at a historical juncture in the league.
"There have been times, particularly in times of pressure, when I look back, taking a little more time might have led to a different outcome," he said.
As a result of the investigation, Astros' General Manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for the 2020 season. They were also promptly fired by the organization. The club was fined $5 million, which is the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution, and their first and second round picks in the 2020 and 2021 First-Year Player Drafts. The team was not stripped of its 2017 title.