Rob Manfred says he regrets giving Astros players immunity

Rob Manfred says he regrets giving Astros players immunity

Rob Manfred admits he was wrong.

Granting immunity to players for their cooperation with Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scheme?

“Maybe not my best decision ever,” the MLB commissioner says now.

That sound you just heard was Dodgers fans all over Southern California simultaneously smacking their foreheads.

Manfred made the admission during a wide-ranging interview with Time magazine that published online Wednesday, two days before the Dodgers start a three-game series against the hated Astros at Chavez Ravine.

In a report issued on Jan. 13, 2020, Manfred cited the 2017 and 2018 Astros for violating rules that banned the use of video equipment to steal signs during a game. The Astros won the World Series in 2017, beating the Dodgers in a seven-game series.

As part of the Astros’ punishment, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for the 2020 season. Later on the same day the report was issued, both men were fired.

The team also was fined $5 million and had to forfeit a couple of draft picks. As for the players who actually took part in this scheme … well, see, those guys were granted immunity from punishment in exchange for their testimony.

On Feb. 16, 2020, Manfred suggested to reporters that having to live with the scorn from being associated with a scandal of this magnitude was punishment enough for the guilty players.

“If you look at the faces of the Houston players as they’re publicly addressing this issue, they have been hurt by this,” the commissioner said. “They will live with questions about what went on in 2017 and 2018 for the rest of their lives, and frankly, it’s rare for any offense that you have a punishment you will live with for the rest of your life.”

Manfred seems to have had a change of heart since then. He told Time, “Some of the decisions surrounding the Houston situation, would like to have those back.”

When asked what he regrets about that situation, Manfred responded:

“I’m not sure that I would have approached it with giving players immunity. 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. Starting with, I’m not going to punish anybody, maybe not my best decision ever.”

The Dodgers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the commissioner’s remarks.

Manfred also said he’d like to take back a 2020 comment in which he defended his decision not to strip the Astros of their 2017 World Series title by referring to the Commissioner’s Trophy as “a piece of metal.”

He apologized two days later — “In an effort to make a rhetorical point, I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way. It was a mistake to say what I said.” — and expressed further regret during the Time interview.

“If I could take back the rather flip comment I made about the World Series trophy at one time, I’d take that one back,” Manfred said.