HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: AJ Hinch #14 of the Houston Astros stands for the national anthem prior to Game One of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

While the Houston Astros failed with their half-hearted apologies, former manager A.J. Hinch has earned some sort of respect.

The Houston Astros held a press conference on Thursday to formally apologize for their sign-stealing scandal throughout the 2017 season. Jim Crane, Dusty Baker, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve took the stage, and they ultimately dropped the ball.

They were better off with Carlos Correa running the entire press conference, who flat-out admitted they had the advantage over everyone. Mostly everyone else beat around the bush, including Crane, who said he felt it had no impact—just to backtrack that quote under a minute later.

Despite the Astros digging themselves deeper into their own hole as the days go by, former manager A.J. Hinch is one of very few people from the 2017 Astros to have an in-depth public discussion and apology since the sign-stealing scandal broke in November. MLB Network’s Tom Verducci interviewed Hinch about the scandal, and it aired last Friday.

The majority of the team spoke after Thursday’s press conference for the first time since the scandal broke. Marwin Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel, who now play for the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, respectively, have both apologized for the team’s actions. Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran both made brief statements when they were fired from their managerial jobs—Cora with the Boston Red Sox, and Beltran with the New York Mets.

With former Astros spread out throughout the league, three of them in New York, it may not be the end.

But Hinch went above and beyond most everyone else so far and it seems that will remain the case after the debacle that occurred on Thursday at the Astros’ spring training facility.

But this is not new for the former manager.

When the Astros publicly stated that a female reporter lied about former assistant Brandon Taubman’s since confirmed comments about closer Roberto Osuna following Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS, Hinch was the only person to stand up for the team and say the front office was acting foolishly.

“I’m very disappointed for a lot of reasons. It’s unfortunate. It’s uncalled for,” Hinch said prior to Game 1 of this past season’s World Series. “For me as a leader in this organization… I take everything that happens in the clubhouse to heart… [you] should never feel like you’re going to be uncomfortable or disrespected.”

Even though Hinch was questioned for his answer about whether or not the Astros used buzzers in 2019, he has since released another statement saying that he had no such knowledge.

While Hinch never told his team to stop the trash can banging, he did destroy the monitor that led to the banging twice.

Whether that is true or not, all we have heard from players is that they believe in the commissioner’s report, rather than just saying they didn’t.

Hinch did not say they weren’t used, either, but with his proven dislike for the trash-can banging system, there could be a possibility that the Astros wore buzzers without his knowledge.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to feel pity for the Astros. However, Hinch deserves some.

For the suspended, and then fired, Hinch, the banging of the trash cans was a huge predicament deep in his own conscience.

It was a player-driven system. And it worked.

He knew it was wrong. But a bang leads to a 400-plus foot home run off of a hanging curveball.

More home runs are hit.

And those lead to wins—101 of them in the regular season, to be exact.

The success the Astros had been dying for after four-consecutive 100-plus loss seasons were right there.

While Crane might take the stance that it had no impact on the games, it did. Why else would the Astros keep banging?

Because they were winning.

Be A.J. Hinch; your lifelong dream is to win a World Series. You are oh so close.

And now, the ring is yours.

It’s easy for all of us to say that we would never cheat the game, and we would fairly earn whatever World Series ring we won.

But if the system is working, it is not that easy to stop.

Now compare that to those who take performance-enhancing drugs. You are a year or two shy from free agency and want to cash out on a guaranteed nine-figure deal.

It happened to Robinson Cano.

You know it’s wrong, but it works. You don’t have to feel bad for Hinch, but we cannot act like we are perfect souls, either.

Hinch had his fair share of wrongdoings; he did not directly tell his team to stop cheating. He originally shied away from the question of whether or not his team used buzzers in 2019. He snarked at the Yankees’ complaints of them cheating in the 2019 ALCS, knowing his team had cheated in the past (and possibly was cheating that season, as well).

But in a time where the Houston Astros cannot get anything right, with all of the fake “sorry we only got caught” apologies, Hinch has done a helluva lot more than most everyone on his former franchise, who is making a mockery of itself day by day.

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