Astros owner Jim Crane says he's exempt from lawsuit against team because MLB 'exonerated' him

Jack BaerWriter
Yahoo Sports

Facing a deposition as part of former MLB pitcher Mike Bolsinger’s lawsuit against the Houston Astros, team owner Jim Crane wrote in a legal filing on Monday that he had been “exonerated” by Major League Baseball of involvement in the team’s illegal sign-stealing.

Therefore, Crane claimed to be immune from legal action for his team’s cheating, according to The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan:

“I was not involved in any alleged rules violations by the Astros,” Crane wrote in his declaration, or legal statement, which is attached to the motion to quash the summons for deposition and move the case to Texas (or dismiss entirely). “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.”

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Bolsinger’s lawyers had reportedly served Crane with notice that they planned to depose him on June 1. The Astros have also reportedly filed to either move the lawsuit from California state court to Texas or dismiss it.

The Astros face multiple lawsuits stemming from their cheating, including ones from Bolsinger, fantasy baseball players and Houston fans.

What Rob Manfred actually said about Jim Crane in the Astros report

Crane’s name is mentioned exactly three times in MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the Astros’ illegal sign stealing.

The first time comes in the opening paragraph, where Manfred explicitly states he found no evidence of Crane’s involvement in the illegal scheme.

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. Crane is extraordinarily troubled and upset by the conduct of members of his organization, fully supported

The second time comes during a breakdown of the Astros’ operations structure, in which Crane was focused on the business side of the team while since-fired general manager Jeff Luhnow had total control over the baseball side.

The third time is the section breaking down culpability in the organization for the team’s cheating, and it very much mirrors the first mention of Crane:

Jim Crane was unaware of any of the violations of MLB rules by his Club. In fact, Crane told Luhnow after the Red Sox discipline was announced that Luhnow should make sure that the Astros did not engage in similar conduct.

You will notice that at no point did Manfred actually use the word “exonerated,” though outright saying Crane, one of Manfred’s 30 bosses, was unaware of the violations could be considered functionally the same.

While Crane might not have been aware of the cheating, he certainly benefited from it financially.

Mike Bolsinger’s lawyer questions the validity of Manfred’s report

Even though Manfred’s report came away with no evidence of Crane’s involvement, Bolsinger’s lawyer reportedly contended that the report itself is now suspect. Further, he claimed that Crane’s filing has now made MLB and its investigation eligible for discovery.

From The Athletic:

On if he agreed the MLB report exonerated the owner, Meiselas wrote, “I don’t, and I don’t think the players and fans do either, and since the Houston Astros have made the Commissioner’s report the focal point of their motion, I see no other option but to set the depositions for those involved in the investigation.

“The report is highly suspect in many ways which will be the subject of discovery. Commissioner Manfred has not exactly gotten high grades for [h]is handling of any of this, to put it mildly.”

MLB’s investigative materials had reportedly already been subject to discovery in the lawsuit from the fantasy baseball lawsuit in New York.

There is no evidence Jim Crane had any part in the Astros' cheating scheme. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
There is no evidence Jim Crane had any part in the Astros' cheating scheme. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Astros’ lawyers question if team’s cheating really impacted games

Taking a note out of Crane’s book, the Astros legal team also defended the team in legal filings by questioning if the cheating really impacted games.

Crane was widely criticized last month for his claim that the sign-stealing did not impact the game.

“Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game,” Crane said. “We had a good team. We won the World Series and we’ll leave it at that.”

That claim was rebuked by basically every non-Astros MLB player on Twitter. In more complicated words, the Astros’ lawyers somewhat repeated the claim while citing Manfred’s report:

“Major League Baseball (‘MLB’) investigated alleged rule violations by the Astros related to sign-stealing, resulting in a January 13, 2020 report in which the Commissioner of Baseball expressly found that ‘it is impossible to determine whether the (Astros’) conduct actually impacted the results on the field,’” the Astros argue in their motion. “The MLB (sic) did not conclude that sign-stealing violations occurred in every game or even most at-bats in the 2017 season.”

Of course, the Astros left out half of the sentence they cited, obfuscating the actual intent of the sentence. What the report really said was:

And while it is impossible to determine whether the conduct actually impacted the results on the field, the perception of some that it did causes significant harm to the game.

At some point, it would be nice if the Astros’ legal team explained why the team was illegally stealing signs if it wasn’t sure it would have any impact on the game, and why it feels the need to take sentences out of context to defend such conduct.

More from Yahoo Sports:

What to Read Next