MLB’s Punishment of the Boston Red Sox is Absurd
Finally, the other shoe has dropped, and the world learned the outcome of Major League Baseball’s investigation into cheating allegations levied against the Boston Red Sox. Although a punishment was given to the team, the findings don’t support that decision and make the sport and the Commissioner, Rob Manfred, look silly.
Boiling down the results of the investigation, it was determined that video replay operator J.T Watkins intermittently deciphered signs in game during the World Series-winning 2018 season and relayed them to a small number of players (He has apparently strenuously denied this).
It was also stressed that the number of players who utilized the ill-gotten signs was small and the number of incidents was limited — only when the team had a runner on second base and not in every game. It was further determined that most players were not aware of this activity, nor was any member of the coaching squad or front office. MLB banned Watkins without pay through the 2021 season; suspended former manager Alex Cora through the 2020 season (for his involvement with the Houston Astros’ sign stealing scandal only); and stripped the Red Sox of their second-round draft choice this year. No players were punished in any way because of immunity they were given for their testimony.
To be clear, the behavior that was alleged was completely wrong and should be dealt with strongly. Anyone proven to be involved should be spared no mercy, given how baseball has made clear that such behavior is prohibited. The problem is, that’s not what happened.
If the evidence supported the findings, then the punishment of Watkins was just. As was Cora’s, who may not have done anything underhanded in Boston, but was apparently a key figure in the Houston scandal. Where MLB’s decision goes off the rails is the confiscation of the team’s second-round pick. Not only was the Boston front office and coaching staff found to have no involvement in this mess, the Commissioner in his report even went out of his way to mention that the Red Sox were consistently communicating sign stealing rules and “made commendable efforts towards instilling a culture of compliance in their organization.”