Jim Crane stood among scraps of confetti, joyous players and their children running amok on the Minute Maid Park grass late Friday night and pondered the meaning of a third World Series trip for his Houston Astros in five years.
Not quite two years ago, the Astros owner was in the center of a far different image, one that no amount of winning, it seemed, could erase: Crane at a podium in West Palm Beach, Florida, framed by two of his greatest stars, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, MVP-caliber talents who on this February 2020 morning apologized for their role in the Astros' elaborate and highly illicit electronic sign-stealing scandal.
Owner and players were not punished for the Astros' elaborate sign-stealing scandal: Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred went out of his way to say Crane knew nothing of it, opted to grant players immunity in exchange for cooperation and banned GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for a year; Crane fired them.
Now, after vanquishing the Boston Red Sox in six games to claim the American League championship, Crane maintains the Astros have put the scandal behind them - and took the fall for an industry in which many teams were cheating in a similar fashion.
"We got it pinned on us, we owned it, we took the penalty and we’re past that now," Crane said.