However, no other players on that team were named, and Manfred said in his report that he was not inclined to hand down punishments to anyone else.
Asked on NBC’s “Today” show if “the punishment fit the crime,” the 86-year-old Aaron replied. “No, I don’t.
“I think whoever did that,” Aaron continued, “should be out of baseball for the rest of their lives.”
In the wake of the Astros’ scandal, another record-setter, hit king Pete Rose, submitted a petition to MLB requesting that he be removed from its permanently ineligible list. If granted his request, the 78-year-old Rose would also be eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
When asked Thursday by NBC if Rose should be enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y., Aaron said simply, “No.”
Aaron’s stance on Rose appeared to be somewhat harsher than his previously stated position on whether players accused of using performance-enhancing drugs should be in the Hall of Fame.
“The thing is, do you put these guys in, or do you put an asterisk beside their names and say, ‘Hey, they did it, but here’s why?’” Aaron said in 2009. “To be safe, that’s the only way I see that you can do it.”
When the Giants’ Barry Bonds, who was widely suspected of using PEDs, broke Aaron’s all-time home run record in 2007, the latter appeared on a video screen at San Francisco’s stadium to offer his congratulations. “Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years,” he said at the time. “I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement.
In choosing not to punish any active players who were on the 2017 Astros, despite noting in his report that witnesses to the scheme described it as “player-driven,” Manfred said it was difficult to determine varying degrees of culpability and “impractical given the large number of players involved, and the fact that many of those players now play for other clubs.”
However, this year’s Houston squad, which still has many of those players, can likely expect scornful treatment from opposing fans while on road trips, as well as continued, tough questions from reporters.
“It’s a fair question,” Hinch replied. “And I think everyone’s going to have to draw their own conclusion.”
“I hope over time, it’s proven that it wasn’t [tainted],” Hinch added, pointing to the abundance of talent on that Houston team. “But I understand the question. … Unfortunately, we opened that door.”
Sign-stealing, in and of itself, is not illegal in baseball, and it has been a part of the game for many decades, mostly via players who have reached second base peeking at the catcher and signaling to the hitter. However, as Manfred pointed out in his report, it becomes illegal when electronic equipment is used as part of the scheme.
When Aaron told NBC Thursday that he was “surprised” to learn the details of the Astros’ operation, he was asked, “They didn’t steal signs back in your day?”
“They did. They didn’t steal them that way,” Aaron replied with a chuckle.