Rob Manfred believes Astros players will be punished through public reaction

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred held a news conference on Sunday about the state of the sport and — surprise! — he had to answer a lot of questions about the Houston Astros cheating scandal.

Manfred opened the conference — which was not televised, despite being the first time the commissioner has spoken publicly about the scandal — with a short statement about both sign-stealing scandals. He said that the report about the Boston Red Sox cheating in 2018 should be completed in several weeks, and then commented on the reaction to the Astros’ punishment. He doesn’t believe that any Astros employee or player escaped punishment, and thinks that the reaction from the public and from fans is the best punishment for the players.

It’s not clear which players’ faces Manfred has been looking at, but it’s certainly not Carlos Correa’s. Correa didn’t seem sorry at all when he ripped Cody Bellinger for daring to share his opinion on the cheating scandal that may have denied him a World Series ring. Manfred didn’t punish any player in the scandal, and only punished two Astros employees (GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch). No other staffers have been publicly fired, despite the “Codebreaker” cheating program that two employees developed.

Manfred said later in the conference that he believes that firing Luhnow, Hinch, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora was a harsh enough punishment to deter anyone from doing it again, but failed to explain why the firing of non-players would deter players from cheating again.

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HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Houston Astros display a 2017 World Series Championship banner fduring pre-game ceremonies on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Houston Astros display a 2017 World Series Championship banner during pre-game ceremonies on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Apr 2, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Fans stand for the national anthem before a game between the Houston Astros and the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Houston Astros unveil the 2017 World Series banner prior to playing the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Fans watch from Union Station as the Houston Astros take on the Baltimore Orioles on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and wife Whitney Crane arrive with the Commisioners Trophy aboard the Budweiser Clydesdales on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and wife Whitney Crane arrive with the Commisioners Trophy aboard the Budweiser Clydesdales on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: A general view of Minute Maid Park during player introductions on opening day at Minute Maid Park on April 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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As for why the Astros were allowed to keep their 2017 World Series championship despite cheating throughout the season and during the playoffs, Manfred said that stripping them of the title was considered but eventually rejected because it had never been done before.

Manfred also doesn’t approve of the lively dialogue that players have been having in the media and on social media.

Leave it to the commissioner of baseball to hate on the one truly interesting and positive thing to come out of this scandal: players showing personality. Does Manfred even like baseball?

Throughout the conference, Manfred seemed resentful that he had to answer so many questions about the illegal sign-stealing, somehow not grasping what a huge, huge deal it is to both players and fans.

Manfred only got a few questions that weren’t related to the scandal. He got several about the Atlanta Braves’ continued use of the racially offensive tomahawk chop chant, both of which he refused to answer. He may be annoyed, but he better get used to it: the Astros cheating scandal isn’t going anywhere for awhile.

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