Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were suspended for the 2020 season (and fired by the Astros) and the team paid a $5 million fine in connection with its 2017 sign-stealing cheating scandal. For anyone who thinks that's not punishment enough and that the team's 2017 World Series title should have been rescinded or Astros players should have penalized, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has news for you: They have been, sort of. In a lengthy ESPN interview, Manfred said he "understand[s] people's desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here. I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price. To think they're skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that's just a mischaracterization of where we are."
Manfred also said that punishing them would be pointless, as the Players Association would file grievances that would be successful because it's true that Luhnow didn't properly share with the team a 2017 memo about the MLB's technology policy. But "in a perfect world, they would have been punished," he allowed. As for the Series title, Manfred said the topic was discussed extensively, but "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" because MLB has the "intestinal fortitude" to make the results of its investigation public. The AP reports Manfred also warned league managers about retaliating with beanballs on Sunday. "I hope that I made it extremely clear to them that ... throwing at a batter intentionally will not be tolerated, whether it's Houston or anybody else. It's dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation." (Read more Houston Astros stories.)