Bang on a trash can twice if you are tired of reading about the Astros…
However, 100 years after the Chicago White Sox fixed the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, MLB is toiling through another scandal involving not only one, but two Fall Classics.
This story has been beaten to death more than the poor trash can in the Astros dugout, and fans no longer need a breakdown of the events from 2017-2018. However, with talking heads and countless articles bickering on the fallout and reaction of the scandal, it may be hard to keep your opinions aligned.
Who are mad at? Who cheated? Who is to pay for all this?
Former Red Sox manager and two-time World Series coach Alex Cora has been fired, along with 2017 World Series champion AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow. They’re gone. Donzo.
They have they own demons to deal with now, and even worse, they may never participate at baseball’s highest level ever again (I predict a lifetime ban for Cora).
Let’s look at the facts. Baseball’s commissioner Rob Manfred laid down the law on the Astros and the punishment is pending for the Red Sox. However, just because he handed out a punishment, he should not be off the hook. Keep in mind, Manfred works for the owners, and he gave Astros owner Jim Crane a free pass. Crane got off scot-free and even got to hold onto his franchise’s only trophy.
That seems fishy that the owner of a franchise would have absolutely no clue of the day-to-day trashcan banging in his dugout. It seems Manfred did not want to infringe on his boss too much. In the report, Manfred glosses over Crane’s alibi:
I also can say our investigation revealed absolutely no
evidence that Jim Crane, the owner of the Astros, was aware of any of the conduct
described in this report.
He gives a makeshift excuse for Crane claiming:
Astros owner Jim Crane and his senior executive team spent their
energies focused on running the business side of the Club while delegating control and
discretion on the baseball side to Luhnow.
Those quotes come from a 9-page report written by Manfred. It is really worth a read here.
Okay, yeah. Crane was so busy with the business aspect of his team that he not ONCE interacted with the athletic day-to-day aspects of the team? Great. I interpret this as Manfred was scared to look too deeply into Crane’s involvement because he was worried about what he would find. Manfred purposefully gives Crane a free pass.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, no players were punished, and only Carlos Beltran was named in the report. He has been fired, but that opens up a different can of worms for a different blog. Poor Mets.
Manfred did not want to step on the toes of the MLBPA by even trying to punish the players. He would have had to negotiate with the MLBPA to make any drastic steps regardless. Manfred walked a tightrope between the players and the owners and that fell on the Astros GM and manager. Now they are out of a job. Cora was punished (or will be soon) accordingly as he was the ringleader of the banging scheme. However, everyone else who directly participated is only walking around with a scarlet letter. So if you want to be mad at someone, be mad at Manfred for trying to please both sides inequality instead of firming and justly punishing all the guilty parties.
Yankee fans can also take a stake in Aaron Judge’s new personal vendetta against the 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve. No current players were named as explicitly cheating, but it would be hard to imagine the Astros clubhouse could cheat if Altuve did not participate as well. And when Judge finished second to Altuve despite better numbers, Yankee fans can really get angry that they missed out on having one of their players win such a prestigious award.
As for the teams as a whole, the 2017 ALCS brings up a lot of what-ifs for Yankees fans. Added to that near-dream season is “what if the Astros were not cheating?.” Well, it is impossible to rewrite history, but it is not unreasonable to see the Yankees moving to the 2017 World Series without the Astros cheating. The Manfred report indicates the Astros cheated in that playoffs, so Yankees can feel very mad about that, justly.
As for the Red Sox ALDS series in 2018, the Yankees cannot credit their failures on the Red Sox cheating that season. The Red Sox were not able to steal signs electronically in the replay room in 2018 because there were MLB personnel in the replay room to monitor such actions. So that series win holds a bit more legitimacy than the Astros’ a year before.
However, the Red Sox did cheat in the 2018 regular season and the Red Sox finished 8 games ahead of the Yankees in the standings that season. Again, do not try to rewrite history, but it is still reasonable enough to imagine a scenario where the Red Sox are unable to win the division without cheating. Look at how they took the same roster into the 2019 season without cheating and fell to third place in the AL East.
Personally, I believe this sign-stealing scandal is a wider issue and Yankee fans may wind up being mad at their own team too. Keep that in mind while you bombard the cheaters who have already been caught.
The last step here is for the Yankees to walk free after more teams are exposed for cheating. They were already caught in 2017 along with the Red Sox. Hopefully, unlike the Red Sox, the Yankees had enough morals to stop cheating.