Major League Baseball just revealed the biggest cheating scandal in professional sports since the NBA refs were fixing the scores in the early 2000’s and since Tiger Woods cheated on Elin Nordgren. The 2017 and 2018 World Series winners were using technology to steal signs and MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, did everything in his power to sweep it under the rug.
This offseason, the Athletic reported that the Houston Astros used cameras in the outfield to instantly relay the catcher’s signs to the dugout where someone in the dugout was responsible for banging a trash can that would indicate to the batter in the box whether a fastball or breaking ball was incoming.
The Astros won the World Series that season. After cheating by knowing exactly what type of pitch the opposing pitchers were throwing which literally eliminates any sort of challenge that the game of baseball presents.
Rob Manfred suspended the manager and the GM for one year, fined the owner, took away a couple of draft picks andddd that’s it. Even though by all accounts, it was a player-driven scheme. Zero players were punished. The title was not vacated.
OH, and thanks to the Coronavirus shut down, both AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow could potentially be back in baseball before the Astros even play another game which means at the end of all of this, there was zero penalty for the Houston Astros.
In January, it was reported that Major League Baseball was looking into the 2018 Boston Red Sox who happened to be managed by Alex Cora—the bench coach for the 2017 Houston Astros. What a weird and wild coincidence that the Astros report said that Cora was heavily involved in the cheating and suddenly as the manager of the Red Sox, there were more reports of cheating. Strange.
It’s almost as if when you remove meaningful consequences and punishments for this type of behavior, it continues because there’s no incentive to stop. But what do I know?
Let’s look and see how Rob Manfred dropped the hammer on the Red Sox.
MLB's investigation into the Boston Red Sox's sign stealing during 2018 revealed a far lesser scheme than the Houston Astros, with penalties accordingly less severe: Only a loss of a second-round pick and a replay operator banned, as @Ken_Rosenthal and @EvanDrellich reported.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 22, 2020
Former Red Sox manager Alex Cora will be suspended through the end of the 2020 season, though that penalty is for his actions with the Houston Astros and not his time as Red Sox manager. All in all, Boston escapes significant discipline and Cora gets same penalty as Hinch/Luhnow.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 22, 2020
Alex Cora has already been fired so we’ll ignore his suspension. Boston lost a second round draft pick. That is all. And some random replay operator lost his job. And that for sure sucks for JT Watkins or whatever but does that negatively affect the Red Sox next season in any way? Trick question: it does not.
If I were Rob Manfred, I would probably care more about the game of baseball being completely destroyed by cheating. This is astronomical worse than the steroid era because individual players on the juice does not dictate the outcomes of games as much as an entire organization using technology to tell batters exactly what pitch is coming.
Barry Bonds did quite literally all of the steroids. He won a grand total of zero World Series championships. Didn’t matter if he hit 762 career home runs if Benito Santiago was coming up to the plate behind him and grounding out to first base 3 times a night. But imagine if Benito knew exactly what pitch was coming.
According to Rob Manfred, it is a bigger penalty to yell at a home plate umpire about your club having ‘savages in the box‘ than it is to use watches and apps and replay equipment to cheat.
I do not believe what the Red Sox did was worse or even equal to what the Houston Astros did and I’m still upset that if baseball returns this season, the Astros won’t have to deal with hostile crowds because of social distancing thus again, getting away with cheating and facing zero consequences.
But the idea that only a random video monitor dude lost his job at the end of all this knowing damn well that Boston will most likely bring back Alex Cora once the year ends is gross as hell. Just once in my lifetime, I’d like to see a leader not be a little coward and actually do the right thing.
Rob Manfred is a little bitch and I hope whoever wins the next World Series does so by doing exactly what the Houston Astros did in 2017 and we all universally blame Manfred for not being strict enough now when he had the opportunity to set a precedent.