Ex-Astros player Marwin Gonzalez ‘remorseful’ on cheating scandal: ‘I wish we could take it back’
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The apology tour began Tuesday on the first day of Minnesota Twins camp, the opening act for what should be a prevailing theme around spring training.
On this day, it was utilityman Marwin Gonzalez – now with the Twins – apologizing for illegally stealing signs during Houston's 2017 World Series championship season.
“I’m remorseful for everything that happened in 2017,’’ Gonzalez said, “everything that we did as a group. And the players that were affected directly by us doing this and other things.
“That’s what I feel the most regret over, and I am remorseful.’’
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Gonzalez, who is entering his second year with the Twins, appeared nervous and anxious during his 4 ½-minute press conference. But he knew he would have to answer questions.
After all, no player was more informed of the pitches coming in 2017 than Gonzalez, according to data accumulated by Astros fan Tony Adams on SignStealingScandal.com. There was trash can banging on 147 of 776 pitches when Gonzalez was batting at home, meaning that 18.9% of the time he was being notified which pitches were coming.
Gonzalez had the best year of his career in 2017, hitting .303 with a career-high 23 homers and 90 RBI to go with a .907 OPS.
Marwin Gonzalez played with the Astros from 2012-18. (Photo: David Berding, USA TODAY Sports)
Gonzalez didn’t get into specifics or talk about how much the sign-stealing benefited him or his teammates, only that he wants to apologize for his actions, specifically to his new teammates – pitchers Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill – who were part of the Los Angeles Dodgers team that lost to the Astros in the 2017 World Series.
Hill, who has yet to speak to Gonzalez, says he feels worse for the Dodgers’ coaches and entire clubhouse staff than anyone. The Astros received a record postseason share of $438,901.57 that year, compared to the Dodgers’ $259,722.14 for the losing shares.
“Look, there was a lot of money on the line, to be honest,’’ Hill told USA TODAY Sports. “It really affects a lot of people more than just the trophy, right? But look, I feel for the guys on that Dodgers team. I think about guys whose career ended that last year. You think about how close we came to accomplishing that goal… Everyone cared for each other. It was really a close-knit group. And then that team disbanded.
“But nobody wins. The fans don’t win on both sides. The players don’t win. You can’t go back and play the World Series. It’s just tough for baseball, really hard for baseball.’’
Hill, like his former Dodgers teammates, certainly doesn’t believe the World Series title should be vacated.
“You got to feel like you earned it,’’ Hill said. “You want the whole euphoric feeling of raising the trophy. It’s just that now a lot of us don’t have many accolades to hang our hat on. Playing the game is an unbelievable accomplishment. Being on All-Star teams is an unbelievable accomplishment. And winning Silver Sluggers, MVPs, Cy Youngs. But the main goal of anybody to walk into a major-league locker room is to win the World Series. And to call yourself World Series champions, well, that must be special.’’
The Astros will always have that achievement, the trophy and Gonzalez will always have that ring.
Gonzalez says the most guilt stems from knowing that pitchers’ careers were adversely affected by the Astros’ actions.
Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mike Bolsinger holds the Astros responsible for ending his career, and filed a lawsuit Monday against the Astros for unfair business practices and negligence.
"I wish we could take it back and do it a different way," Gonzalez said. "But there’s nothing we can do. I just want to move forward.’’
Still, it’s not going to go away. Not now. Not a month from now. Maybe not for a long time.
That 2017 World Series banner will hang forever in Minute Maid Park, but its significance will be in the eye of the beholder.
Is it tarnished forever?
“That’s hard to say, and that’s hard to speculate,’’ Gonzalez said, “because I still think we have one of the best teams in the last decade. A great talent. I hope we could take it back, but there’s nothing we can do.’’
Would they have won the World Series without the cheating?
“That’s hard to measure, that’s hard to know,’’ Gonzalez said. “You’re never going to know. That was a great team. Great guys, too, besides everything that happened. It’s hard to answer that question.’’
Gonzalez also refused to answer, or even venture a guess, whether anyone on the team tried to stop the cheating.
It’s over now. It won’t change anything. Just like the way he is viewed, he can’t control what people think of him now.
Yet, Gonzalez realizes that while the controversy may die quickly in the Twins’ camp, the Astros won’t have that luxury. He feels for the scrutiny his former teammates will face all season.
“I’m sure they will, that’s how it is,’’ Gonzalez said. “They’re going to get booed. Hopefully, they can get through that.’’
Maybe one day baseball can get over it, too, Hill says. He’ll forgive Gonzalez, now his teammate. He may forgive the Astros, too. Major League Baseball is littered with scandals.
This is just the latest.
“You look at the things that baseball has gone through, the 1919 Black Sox, and baseball bounced back from that,’’ Hill said. “The steroid era, baseball bounced back. World Wars. So baseball can bounce back from this.
“It will be a long spring training. I mean, [former Astros] are all over the place. But hopefully we can move on. I love this game. I don’t want to see that derailed because of mistakes that were made.’
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale
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