Red Sox investigation antics continue: what now?

Yesterday marked what should have been the last day of spring training, with the Red Sox opening up the 2020 regular season in Toronto tomorrow. They were supposed to have a lot that they do not have, most recently seeing Chris Sale say farewell to the season to get Tommy John surgery. The best news for the Sox at this point might just be that the season will not in fact start tomorrow.

(Photo: John Minchillo/Associated Press, The New York Times)

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Baseball is still failing to do his job and the Red Sox and their 2018 championship team have fallen victim to his antics. Remember when the Houston Astros became the most hated team in sports and somehow sidelined the Yankees for the temporary role as the villains of baseball? And remember when the article from The Athletic briefly associated the Yankees in allegations related to sign-stealing but threw the 2018 Red Sox in the headline... just because? Rumor has it that after about 700 delays with the investigation, MLB has let the Red Sox know about their findings and team lawyer Lauren Moskowitz reportedly disagrees with them. Let’s break this down.

What are the findings?

A natural question—you’d think since the Red Sox have information about the findings from Major League Baseball and have already raised objections, the league would have announced those findings in order to be transparent about any rules that may have been broken. You gullible fool who thought our commissioner was competent enough to do the most intuitive thing logic suggests! I pity you.

During the 2017 season, the Red Sox were fined by MLB for using an Apple Watch to relay stolen signs to hitters, a method that 2017 Red Sox outfielder Chris Young recently said was a concept he learned from the Yankees. The Yankees also later received a slap on the wrist for a similar method of sign-stealing. Yet, they are not scruitizined at all for their actions simply because they haven’t won anything. But hey, that’s a conversation for another day. The 2018 Red Sox have been accused of using an already-existed video replay room, existent in every Major League ballpark, to manually decode signs and then relay them to men standing at second base to alert the hitter of the catcher’s signs.
(Photo: Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

While MLB continues their vague exposition on the official rules of sign-stealing and usage of video to transmit and decode signs, the Red Sox continued to take advantage of the available technology. The ongoing investigation, already delayed multiple times by Rob Manfred, is to discover the exact actions by the Red Sox and evaluate if it deserves a significant punishment. Simple enough, right?

What’s the holdup?

Another great question, I am so glad you asked! On January 13, Commissioner Manfred suspended Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for the 2020 season. The same day, they were fired by Astros owner Jim Crane who was also fined and charged with the losses of draft picks in 2020 and 2021. The day after (January 14), the Red Sox fired Alex Cora and on January 16, the Mets fired newly-hired manager Carlos Beltran, the then-player associated with leading the illegal operation.

But that wasn’t quite enough since the original report tied the 2018 Red Sox to part of a sign-stealing mess that could forever tarnish their reputation. Given the ties between the skipper of the 2018 Red Sox and the mastermind crew of the 2017 Astros that were proven to be guilty, the Red Sox had to be investigated. The issue? The Red Sox are more than likely innocent.

(Photo: AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Listen to what the Red Sox have claimed. Listen to what now-retired member of the 2018 team Ian Kinsler had to say. Listen to what their opponents think. The Red Sox have likely used the video replay room to take advantage of sign sequences and decoding that several teams not only have easy access to but likely use on a regular basis. A technique of relaying signs after getting a man on second base has been modernized for the last several years and despite the shady rules that MLB has laid down to attempt to preserve integrity, everything takes advantage of the ballpark technology because that’s just what the teams that want to win do.

"I'm interested to see what happens with this whole report because I truly believe they're not going to find anything that's substantial. They might throw a small punishment out there because they did a report. I don't know. I don't know where they stand on this whole thing. We saw where they stood on the Astros thing. I just really don't see any form of punishment coming to the Red Sox. It was a very good team." — Ian Kinsler

We’ll let Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay explain it. Yes, a guy who gets paid to call games for the New York Yankees has come out in support of the Red Sox because he’s also not stupid.

Heck, even Ross Stripling, member of the Dodgers that fell in the World Series to the 2017 Astros and the 2018 Red Sox, lashed out against the Astros, going so far as to publicly admit he wants to plunk Astros batters. His take on the Red Sox? He’s cool with them and don’t think they deserve hate. (See below for Stripling's breakdown.)

It’s clear that the 2018 Red Sox are only getting a prolonged investigation because they were part of a report that wanted to include champions other than the Astros in the sign-stealing backlash. The Red Sox got their 119-win season fair and square and don’t deserve to have questions surrounding their path to a championship. Astros owner Jim Crane dealt with getting caught horribly in arguably the worst display of PR in the history of sports. Rob Manfred dealt with getting exposed in arguably (don’t worry, I said arguably, I am aware of Roger Goodell) the worst display of leadership in recent sports history. Now, he wants to save face by sharing the shame spotlight of the Astros with the Red Sox, thinking that will somehow make him look better.

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll yell it out again. Rob Manfred is slowly but surely ruining a league that is meant to promote the beautiful game of baseball. Through unnecessary rule changes, ambivalence to real issues, and the lack of a gut to take on serious leadership, Manfred has found a way to make Major League Baseball a laughing stock in the sports community. Now, with all his baggage, he wants to taint the 2018 Red Sox because he hates us all. If they want to take a year-long investigation of using the video replay room and then punish us for it, they should investigate every team in baseball and punish them all. We should not stand for hypocrisy. We are innocent. Give us our clear.

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