HOUSTON – Following KPRC 2’s special report, “The Luhnow Interview,” the sports world has been discussing former Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow’s comments to KPRC 2′s Vanessa Richardson.
Luhnow denied his knowledge and involvement in anything related to cheating.
“I didn’t know we were cheating,” said Luhnow. “I had no idea. I wasn’t involved. Major League Baseball’s report stated that I didn’t know anything about the trashcan-banging scheme. They stated I might have known something about the video-decoding scheme and not paid it much attention. But there was really no credible evidence of that claim. I didn’t know. I didn’t know about either of them.”
Luhnow joined the Astros as general manager in December 2011, known for his emphasis on analytics over traditional baseball scouting methods. He expressed several times he felt he was scapegoated by MLB and the Astros on several different occasions.
“They just did it,” he said. “Whether it’s the players or the video staffers, they just decided on their own to do it and that’s a shame, because had they come and asked me for permission I would have said no. Had they gone and asked Jim (Crane) for permission, he would have said no. There’s just no reason why that should have happened.”
Another incident that stained Luhnow’s legacy was the Brandon Taubman incident. Taubman, the Astros Assistant GM at the time, made insensitive remarks to a female reporter in the clubhouse after the 2019 ALCS. The Astros initially sent out a statement claiming the reporter’s story was a fabrication. Luhnow expressed his regret with “taking one for the team” in the press conference that followed.
“When that interview was over, I received a text message from the other person who had been involved in writing it and crafting it, thanking me for ‘taking one for the team,’" Luhnow said. "I shouldn’t have taken one for the team. I didn’t write that response. It was a horrible response. It never should have happened. But unfortunately I did. I take my responsibility in it. I should have stopped it, but that’s not my area of expertise. I was busy preparing for the World Series. There are people in the company -- the legal department, the marketing department, the PR department -- those are the people that are involved in crisis management. And they botched this one big time.”
The interview also revealed the lengths Luhnow went to trying to prove what he says is full innocence; a binder he presented to Rob Manfred, an offer of a polygraph, and documents Luhnow’s lawyer was able to obtain.
“I asked Rob Manfred for a meeting in New York, and I put together a binder," explained Luhnow. “It’s about 150 pages long. It’s 14 different tabs. And I refuted, with facts, with emails, with documents, with testimony, each and every single allegation that was in that charging document. I sent it to him ahead of him, and I went through it with him there in person. I also looked at him and I told him, ‘I would like to take a lie detector test,’ because it essentially came down to one person’s word that I might have known against my word. And I have 16 years in the industry. I’ve been complying with rules for 16 years. In fact, early in my career, I helped Major League Baseball lead a study about how to eradicate wrongdoing in the international market because there was so much mischief going on. I have a long track record of following the rules, and helping apply the rules, and in fact helping create the rules. I knew Rob knew all of this, and I also knew I had a lot of people who would speak for me. So I presented to Rob two pages of references; people inside of baseball on all levels from owners to former commissioners, to people who have worked with me for 16 years. And I presented him a list of people who know me outside of baseball in my three careers before. And I wanted him … he could have called any one of those people to ask about my integrity, my character, my honesty, and he chose not to contact any of those people. He turned down my offer to do a polygraph test. I don’t know how much of the 150 page binder he read, but none of it made its way into the final report, so frankly, he had his mind made up."
“After the investigation was over and I was fired, I got access to about 22,000 text messages that were from personnel in the video room,” said Luhnow. “And it was clear from those messages that they were communicating back and forth about the rule violations. They were aware of the Red Sox and Yankees rule violations, they were aware it was wrong, and they also were using text messages to cheat on the job. They were communicating signs, and this was to coaches, to people in the video room. It’s all there in black and white. And what’s also clear from it is who’s not involved. I’m not implicated. I’m not in any of those text messages. In fact, there’s a few text messages where they say ‘Don’t tell Jeff.’”
Luhnow also addressed the timeline of cheating, his message to Astros fans, who he still talks to in the organization, and more in our full interview. You can watch the full interview and read the full transcript here.