On a rainy day, cheating scandals seem to follow teams based in New England around like a storm cloud. It is the Red Sox who find themselves in the midst of the storm for the second time in the last couple of years. It was the sign-stealing under then-manager John Farrell over the Apple Watches several years ago. Alex Cora, the new skipper, is the one under fire for the latest scandal and things are getting out of control.
First of all, I’m not here to say the Red Sox used the replay room to not steal signs. I’m sure they’ve done it, and I’m sure there’s plenty of other teams doing it too, but Boston got caught. Evan Drellich of The Athletic revealed this week that, during the 2018 regular season, Boston used their replay room to decipher the sign sequences of opposing teams.
The Sox, again, is not the first and will not be the last. In reality, in Drellich’s report, both the Astros and Yankees were also involved, and yet Boston is the only squad that gets attention. I think it’s a little unfair for the Red Sox to be the only ones with the light shining on them. Back to the matter, everybody is stealing signs. Is that correct? Maybe, maybe not, but for quite a long time, it was part of the game. Using outside technology is where I think things are coming out of that gray area and heading to be unfair. I support the Apple Watch debacle punishment because Boston was just moronic. Nonetheless, this is something entirely different and should not be viewed along the same lines.
On the way to the clubhouse, each team has access to a replay room just outside the dugout. Teams can use this room to review recent at-bats to see what went wrong during that at-bat, or right. You are not allowed to use this space to see anything else that happens on the plate during the at-bat other than the hitter.
The Problem With Replay Rooms Is Not So Obvious
The problem with this whole replay room business is that the teams did not even have an MLB official in the room while they were using the facility. And they gave this space to the teams to watch the footage of the game while the game is still going on, expecting everyone to be Boy Scouts. I’m sorry for Rob Manfred, but you’re doing a bad job. If you were to give teams this great ability to see actual footage right after it happened, then you needed to have someone with them in the room to keep the shenanigans at bay.
It said in the article that the replay rooms had MLB officials in them for the post-season in order to prevent any team shenanigans. So, have control but not regular season during the postseason? Isn’t there a pair of MLB officials in the clubhouse who can handle the two replay rooms from April to October?
I find this just a bit incredible, and that’s why the MLB is the real loser in this debacle, not the three teams that have been named.
There Is More To The Story Beyond Houston
The league office not only had the Houston cheating story, which was a serious offense but now they have that which includes two more of their key franchises. Two recent winning squads in the World Series and a team that regularly goes deep into the postseason were involved in a cheating scandal that the league handed over to those teams. As for the Red Sox, this will most likely end, at least in a suspension for Cora. In the Astros fiasco from 2017, he was interested in some matter while he was a bench coach and now with Boston. It still remains to be seen whether or not Manfred wants to drop the hammer on the third-year skipper, but I can’t see it resulting in another matter.
Another thing that strikes me as very interesting is that it is the 2018 squad that comes under fire. You know, the one who won a 108 games franchise record and then cruised on the way to winning the World Series to an 11-3 record in the postseason. What a coincidence the three teams mentioned in the report all had amazing seasons in 2018 and then got the whistleblown. The league office has been placing officials in the 2019 replay rooms, and this year no peep has been heard of cheating. As far as the league office’s reputation is concerned, it may be a little too late as the egg is planted directly on their faces. If they had just set up officials from the start, this might have been avoided.
Personally, I don’t see this as a big deal, and maybe I’m just cynical, but everybody’s stealing signs. I think it’s a huge gray area for baseball as it’s a strategy that’s in existence for as long as I can remember, and as technology advances, teams just get more innovative. Giving teams another method to work out the signals of the rival squads just makes it so much easier. It’s not on the Red Sox, Astros, or Yankees, and this scandal is on the league.