MLB commissioner Rob Manfred apologizes for referring to World Series trophy as 'a piece of metal'
Manfred owned up to one mistake prior to a Tuesday press conference
On Tuesday, for the second time in three days, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred met with the media for a press conference that centered around the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. Unsurprisingly, one of the highlights (a relative term) involved comments Manfred made on Sunday, when he referred to the World Series trophy (appropriately named the Commissioner's Trophy) as a "piece of metal" in an interview with ESPN.
Manfred was explaining why he thought stripping the Astros of their 2017 title was a "futile act." Here is his full quotation:
"The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act. People will always know something was different about the 2017 season, and whether we made that decision right or wrong, we undertook a thorough investigation, and had the intestinal fortitude to share the results of the investigation, even when those results were not very pretty."
Manfred made a point of apologizing for his off-hand remark on Tuesday, prior to taking questions for the better part of 30 minutes.
"In an effort to make a rhetorical point I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way," he said. "It was a mistake to say what I said."
Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was among those who took exception to Manfred's dismissive comment. "For him to devalue it the way he did [Monday] just tells me how out of touch he is with the players in this game," Turner said. "At this point the only thing devaluing that trophy is that it says 'commissioner' on it."
Manfred was speaking Tuesday afternoon at Cactus League spring training media day in Scottsdale, Arizona. His comments on Sunday marked the first time he held a press conference since the league announced the results of its months-long investigation into the Astros in January.
Here are other notable developments from Manfred's latest press conference.
Astros stole signs in October
Manfred confirmed that the Astros used their sign-stealing, trash-can-banging operation during the 2017 postseason. Manfred said that the Astros did, refuting public comments from their players. While Manfred didn't name names, he did state that the players admitted to partaking in the banging scheme during the playoffs in interviews during the league investigation.
"The garbage can signaling went on in the postseason," Manfred said. "There was conflicting evidence on that point. In an investigation you often have conflicting evidence. And it was my view the more credible evidence was that they continued to use the scheme in the postseason."
Manfred brings up union when talking immunity
Manfred again discussed MLB's decision to grant Astros players immunity in order to receive honest testimony.
Manfred said that they originally approached the players union with a list of players they'd grant immunity to, but that the union pushed back and demanded full immunity in exchange for cooperation. Essentially, Manfred is telling the players who are angry with the lack of punishment toward the Astros' roster to blame their union leaders.