MLB pins Red Sox sign-stealing scandal on a video replay guy, I guess

Following the Astros being exposed for cheating and that whole drama, focus turned to the Red Sox, who were also being investigated and were of particular interest because Alex Cora is a common factor between the two. It’s also of interest to the Dodgers because they made an off-season trade to get one of the Red Sox’s (and league’s) marquee players in Mookie Betts along with David Price.

Well, the results of the investigation were announced recently, and the MLB essentially concluded that it was just one video replay guy that was doing the cheating and not even that much of it.

Major League Baseball on Wednesday suspended Boston Red Sox video replay system operator J.T. Watkins without pay through the 2020 postseason and stripped the team of its second-round draft pick this year after completing its investigation into allegations that the team stole signs during the 2018 season.

As with the Astros investigation, Red Sox players were promised immunity in MLB’s investigation. But Manfred said that even if players had been subject to discipline, none would have been punished. Manfred wrote in his report that Watkins, who denied the allegations, “on at least some occasions during the 2018 regular season, utilized the game feeds in the replay room, in violation of MLB regulations, to revise sign sequence information that he had permissibly provided to players prior to the game.” Manfred found Boston’s conduct far less egregious than that of the Astros, noting, “Unlike the Houston Astros’ 2017 conduct, in which players communicated to the batter from the dugout area in real time the precise type of pitch about to be thrown, Watkins’ conduct, by its very nature, was far more limited in scope and impact. … The information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base (which was 19.7% of plate appearances league-wide in 2018), and Watkins communicated sign sequences in a manner that indicated that he had decoded them from the in-game feed in only a small percentage of those occurrences.”

So most importantly, Mookie is INNOCENT (and so is Price, I guess, whatever) … unless he leaves in free agency (or Price sucks), then he (or they) absolutely knew about all this and are cheaters for life.

No but really, no players will be punished for this just like with the Astros and apparently we’ll never know how much or who actually benefited from their system … sorta like with the Astros.

That said, Cora will still be suspended for a year for his actions during the Astros scandal.

Former Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who mutually parted ways with the team in January as part of the fallout from the Astros sign-stealing scandal, is suspended through the 2020 postseason as well — but only for his previous conduct as Houston’s bench coach. Cora and former Astros player Carlos Beltran were the key individuals in a scheme to place a camera near Houston’s dugout and have players bang on a trash can to signal breaking pitches. Cora left Houston after the 2017 season and managed the Red Sox to the 2018 title.

Hilariously, this is because Rob Manfred does not believe Cora knew what was going on.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in his report that he does not believe Cora was aware of Watkins’ actions and will not impose additional discipline.

Manfred wrote that he did not find that Cora, his coaching staff, the front office or most of the players on the team “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.”

Personally, I absolutely believe that Cora got away with rampant cheating in Houston that resulted in a World Series win , went to another team that subsequently also cheated and won a World Series, but this time had absolutely no knowledge of what was happening. Absolutely.

What the Red Sox likely did was not as bad as what the Astros did, sure. However, what’s in this report seems likely to be far from the only things that went down.

All in all, this seems like yet another case of the MLB desperately wanting to move on and cause as little of a mess as possible, hoping that Manfred coming off incompetent and soft to the public will cause less damage to the MLB brand that actually taking meaningful action. The results of that plan is yet to be seen, but outside of Baseball Twitter and what not, I get a sinking feeling that they may be right.

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"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times