As Major League Baseball officially begins full-squad spring training it was painfully apparent today that the Houston Astros could use more media training and, more importantly, contrition and sincerity as they officially addressed their sign stealing cheating scandal in front of the media. The league, meanwhile, is not doing much better.
Led by team owner Jim Crane, apologies were put forth with little to no emotion. ‘This will not happen again under my watch’ promised Crane meekly as he fumbled with pages of words he clearly did not write nor adequately rehearse. There was no eye contact. No anger. No resolve. Instead, Crane put forth an air that this was all a bother to him, something he was advised to do.
Only two players spoke for mere seconds with the only heartfelt words coming from Alex Bregman, whose face and demeanor demonstrated pain and embarrassment. ‘We know we need to regain your trust,’ was his message and it truly felt like he meant it. Star Jose Altuve, the team leader, was robot-like and barely spoke. Another missed opportunity.
In crisis communications, what you say and do have to be meant, owned and followed through on. Admit wrong doing, apologize, reassure, and demonstrate true resolve toward permanent corrective action. Today’s press conference felt like a long rain delay that eventually gets postponed. It is anticlimactic with a resolution that is unclear for the future.
Moreover, to date, only Astros field leadership has been punished (suspended by the league and eventually fired by the team—“We went above and beyond” said Crane). No players have received so much as a fine, let alone a suspension. That also just doesn’t feel right. And so, many of us, as fans, are left feeling cheated by a league who has traditionally promoted “integrity” of the game as the foundation for everything. We’ve been thrown a screwball indeed.