Houston Astros owner Jim Crane claimed in a legal filing Monday that Major League Baseball “exonerated” him, which protects him from being sued in the sign-stealing scandal.
Crane made the defense in a suit filed by former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger. The ex-major leaguer named Crane as a defendant and his lawyers planned to depose him in the case.
“I was not involved in any alleged rules violations by the Astros,” Crane wrote in his motion to dismiss his summons for a deposition in the matter, according to The Athletic. “Major League Baseball conducted an investigation into potential rules violations by the Astros. That report explicitly exonerated me and stated that I was unaware of and had no involvement in any rules violations by the Astros.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in its January report on the 2017 scandal that there was “no evidence” to support that Crane was aware of sign-stealing going on in the Astros’ clubhouse.
“At the outset, I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct described in this report,” Manfred said. “Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported my investigation, and provided unfettered access to any and all information requested.”
While Crane apologized and vowed they would never cheat again in a February press conference, he maintained that he didn’t feel like the cheating impacted the game and said the World Series wasn’t tainted.
“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that,” Crane said.
Crane was asked whether the Astros actually cheated when they used video to steal signs, he told reporters: “We broke the rules. You can phrase that any way you want.”
Bolsinger filed his lawsuit, claiming the Astros’ cheating in 2017 altered his career. He accused the team of negligence and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations.
He told USA Today that he remembers pondering whether the Astros knew what was coming in an Aug. 4 game.
“I don’t know if I’ve had a worse outing in my professional career,” he said. “I remember saying, ‘It was like they knew what I was throwing. They’re laying off pitches they weren’t laying off before. It’s like they knew what was coming.’ That was the thought in my head. I felt like I didn’t have a chance.”
Bolsinger was demoted to the minors after that game and never found himself in the majors again. According to a website that tracked which games had the most bangs on the trash can the team used, Bolsinger’s game had 54 total bangs.
The right-handed pitcher is seeking unspecified damages. According to USA Today, he wants the Astros to pay about $31 million in bonuses from their 2017 World Series victory to children charities in Los Angeles and to start a fund for retired players who need financial assistance.