Well, it seems that cheating in baseball is absolutely worth it. The Houston Astros did it for several seasons, won a World Series, and for the most part, the organization as a whole got a slap on the wrist. No players faced penalties. The franchise itself paid a fine that amounts to a hill of beans and a can of tuna. But compared to what Major League Baseball just handed down to the Boston Red Sox for their part in a sign stealing scandal, the Astros got the guillotine.
In 2018 the Boston Red Sox were using video cameras to watch the catcher put down signs, then relay that information to the dugout, and then the hitters. Their punishment? The video replay guy was suspended for 2020, and he’s not allowed to work as the video replay guy in 2021. Oh, and the Red Sox have to give up their 2nd round draft pick in 2020. That’s it. That was the entirety of their punishment. Alex Cora, who was the manager of the Red Sox until January when he and the team mutually decided to part ways, was given a suspension for the 2020 season – but only for his involvement in the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal from 2017. He was not punished at all for what happened with the Red Sox in 2018.
So what are the difference between what the Astros did and what the Red Sox did? Well, if you are going to believe what Major League Baseball says (spoiler alert: I’m not), this was something that was directed not by the manger or coaches or players, but by the video replay operator.
This is where things become highly questionable from my view. The report basically says that it was the video replay operator acting alone. While it’s believable that he wasn’t instructed to do this on his own, he couldn’t have done it on his own. The signs he was stealing were relayed through multiple people in order to get to the hitter.
This is from the report:
I do not find that then-Manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis. Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only.
Are we honestly supposed to believe that no coaches or managers participated in the relay of signs from a video replay room, down a tunnel, into the dugout, and then to the batter? And if we can somehow accept that they didn’t do that, that they were also all so dumb that they didn’t see what was going on around them for an entire season? That somehow several players could figure out the signs the catcher was giving from the dugout and get them to the hitter? On no planet does that make an ounce of sense. But that’s what Major League Baseball and the Boston Red Sox want us to believe happened.
Oh yeah, they also want us to believe that almost none of the players knew that what they were doing was against the rules in 2018. You know, on the Boston Red Sox, who were fined in 2017 over the Apple Watch incident, which directly led to an MLB memo to all teams about using technology to steal signs – yeah, those same guys seemed to “believe” what was happening wasn’t illegal and against the rules. Right. And I’m the king of France.