Friday, April 24, 2020

Unequal Justice

I was reading Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich's article in The Athletic this morning about the pathetic little slap on the wrist the Red Sox received for their own electronic cheating scandal. I understand that what the Red Sox did was always considered a lesser sin than what the Astros got whacked for, but losing a second round draft pick and having a relatively low level employee suspended for a year seems quite a small price to pay.

I know that MLB was working without a Mike Fiers type of insider informant with the Sox, but this wasn't even the first time they were caught doing electronic cheating. Remember the whole Apple Watch in the dugout fiasco from a couple of years back.

There's a lot of excuse making in Commissioner Manfred's statement on why the Red Sox were treated so leniently. The article brings up some good questions. To me, the punishment was handed out sounds an awful lot like a deal struck between the league and the club to try to bring things to a conclusion without looking too soft. A second round pick late in the round isn't much of a loss, and the employee who was made the scapegoat wasn't even banned from baseball, just suspended.

If Major League baseball thinks that this punishment is going to make another team think twice about pulling something similar then they are deluding themselves. What they're going to need to do is to find a foolproof way to keep anyone with any contact with live video away from anyone in the dugout, period. The only possible exception would be when a manager wants to know if he should challenge a call, and even there it wouldn't be terrible to me if they forced teams to decide if they're going to challenge without video guidance.

I have a lot of friends and relatives that are fans of Boston sports. They don't like to hear stuff like this, but that is quite a legacy of cheating they're building in that town. Between the Red Sox being nailed for electronic cheating twice and all of the times Bill Belichick's Patriots have caught breaking the rules, young fans of those teams are learning questionable lessons in fair play and sportsmanship.

Cheating has been around for a long time. A more primitive pre-electronics cheating scheme enabled Bobby Thompson to hit a home run to beat the Dodgers with the famous "shot heard 'round the world" 69 years ago. There has always been pressure to obtain an edge in sports, and so often the line is blurred and inconsistent. Guys who used steroids were unforgivable cheaters. Guys who doctored baseballs like  Gaylord Perry and Mike Scott were "characters" to be winked at and made the subject of funny stories.

I wrote in my post on Carlos Beltran that there has been so much rationalization of various forms of cheating in baseball that we probably shouldn't be shocked when such blatant attempts to cheat the game get revealed.  I can't help but feel that a focus on electronic cheating by the league might put a temporary stop to things, but as soon as MLB focuses their attention elsewhere, 2-3 years down the road, this type of activity is likely to return. Certainly the punishment that the Red Sox were just given won't be much of a deterrents to future cheaters.


I recently received an offer to subscribe to the Athletic for 50% off.  I got a free week and then a year for $30. Money is tight right now, but $5 a month for good sports content seems reasonable. It's worth looking into if you're looking for something similar.  If they don't still offer the deal on the web site try Googling "Athletic 50% off."  I've been enjoying it.  Also, if anyone wants a free 30 day trial email me.  I'm allowed to share this with 5 friends or family members, and honestly no one in my family would be interested. In my family I am the rare bird that both loves sports and enjoys reading.


Stay well, everyone. We'll be back tomorrow.  Wait, it's after midnight.  Make that later today.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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