Spring is in the air.  At least it is somewhere.  States across the US are still dealing with some massive mood swings from Mother Nature, but this won’t stop baseball from moving forward.  Spring Training is here, and it’s time to get ready for an event-filled season that includes, hopefully, nothing but positivity.  Unfortunately, that plan isn’t getting off to a great start with the Astros issuing an apology, of sorts.

The Houston Astros held their highly anticipated news conference Thursday before they take the field in West Palm Beach, FL.  On hand was owner and chairman Jim Crane, manager Dusty Baker and a couple of players and, obviously, the conversation centered primarily on the sign-stealing scandal that is rocking the franchise.  Crane tried to rationalize that the creative management style was not cheating and didn’t impact the outcome of any games.

Polls Show Weak Astros Apology

That didn’t do much to instill faith in the team again, and polls have shown that it was a weak apology from the Astros.  He could have taken a cue from two of his players, Alex Bregman and José Altuve, who were more sincere with their apologies.  Bregman swallowed his pride and offered, “I’m really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization and by me.  I have learned from this, and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans. I would also like to thank the Astros fans for all of their support. We as a team are totally focused on moving forwards to the 2020 season. Thank you.”

The death of Kobe Bryant didn’t impact just the basketball world, but the entire sports community.  A couple of Philadelphia Phillies players decided to honor the Philly native as they started spring training in Clearwater, FL.  Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto were spotted on the field wearing Phillies-colored Kobe Bryant Turf Shoes.  Their tribute is consistent with what a number of Philadelphia-based teams have been doing, including Joel Embiid and his No. 24 during a home game and the Sixers honoring the late basketball phenom before one of its home games.

More MLB News….

The Boston Red Sox aren’t getting off to a great start this season.  They already have to deal with a new head of baseball operations and the ejection of former manager Alex Cora for his role in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, and now have to figure out when one of their stars might be well enough to begin practice.  Four-time MVP Dustin Pedroia was expected to be available for spring training, but the second baseman has not recovered as anticipated from an injury to his left knee.  It still isn’t clear when he might be well enough to take the field, but it looks like it might be awhile.

Tim Tebow made a name for himself as an outstanding quarterback at the University of Florida, even taking home the Heisman Trophy, before a five-year stint in the NFL.  However, his passion is on the baseball diamond, and is back for his fourth run with the New York Mets.  He returns as a non-roster invitee in hopes of seeing the big leagues after spending time in Triple A, and told USA Today, “I never said I’d make it or succeed, but I won’t give up on this easy.  What I’m doing is focusing on things I can control so I can look back and have no regrets. Succeeding isn’t really a choice. But fighting, scratching, clawing and believing, those are choices.”

The Baltimore Orioles have begun warming up for the season and now has 67 players attending their training camp in Sarasota, FL.  There are some familiar faces, as well as some new ones, and the team is doing everything it can to put together a winning lineup for the year.  So far, Austin Hays, Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander are in the mix as outfielders, and a new catcher is expected to bring some excitement to the team.  Adley Rutschman is participating in his first MLB spring training, and the first overall pick from 2019 is carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders (and his knees) as the Orioles get things rolling.

Saving the best for last, the San Diego Padres are being accused of putting a swastika on their new ball caps.  Anyone with a little bit of common sense knows that it isn’t a real swastika, nor was it even meant to represent one, and the resemblance is only tenuous, at best.  Regardless, the combination of “SD” and mascot Swinging Friar from two previous logos created a shape that, if looked at just right (under a waning moon through rose-colored shades) could be interpreted by some as the symbol linked to Nazi Germany.  The Padres decided to appease the masses and have pulled the caps for now, but they might make a reappearance later in the season for at least one game.