Red Sox sign-stealing drama will soon dissipate with others outed

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 22: Manager Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox answers questions from reporters prior to a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 22, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 22: Manager Alex Cora #20 of the Boston Red Sox answers questions from reporters prior to a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 22, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox are in the spotlight on the sign-stealing saga, but the good news is eventually that light will shine on others and already has. Misery loves company.

Sign-stealing is now all in vogue for reducing the usual tedium before Spring Training approaches. The baseball hierarchy has dished out suspensions, fines, and their version of mattress warning labels to put the former and any future miscreants on notice. The Red Sox are currently awaiting their call to the Principal’s office for their possible shenanigans in 2018.

A clear line in the sand has been drawn by Commissioner Manfred on just what levels of skullduggery will be tolerated. Traditional baseball custom allowed the drama to be on the field to take a peak, but that has long been circumvented.

Rarely do pangs of sympathy emit from my hardened soul for smug corporate suits but Manfred has now been tormented with another and far more substantial round of misbehavior. No more of the mundane spousal abuse and PED usage, but turning over the cheating rock that anyone with any connections going on in their synapsis was aware of.

Like the making of sausage, it is best not to know. This, however, has had a surprising round of confessions coming forth to keep the campfires burning bright.

Carl Erskine – now 93-years-old – cleared any memory fog to relate how the nefarious New York Giants created an elaborate system including a buzzer and spyglass combination that circumvented the acceptable professional standards. Was Bobby Thompson’s famous “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” the result of pilfering?

Erskine is not a stand-alone as others have come forward to the confessional to plead their involvement or to delineate the methods employed by artisans of the craft of baseball to be forewarned of what pitch may be forthcoming. Is the motivation and attempt to clean the slate before being interviewed by St. Peter? Is it the thirst for notoriety? A possible junket into the fifteen minutes of fame?

Is the next phase a list of suspects stretching from the known to the unknown? A vestibule of criminal sign stealers that would parallel and bury the famed Mitchell Report on alleged and real users of now-banned substances. The Oakland Athletics who generally have observed the Astros tail lights in the race for the divisional brass ring have already checked in. Expect others to follow as the moment of fame is just too delicious to ignore.

Mike Fiers, whose first-person account started the discipline ball rolling has certainly been tarnished to some such as ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza who apparently places him firmly in the stoolie category. Others consider Fiers – now a potential baseball pariah- a whistleblower who should be raised to Gandhi status. I have no worries about Fiers since I smell a book deal in the works. My Kindle awaits his answer to Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” for the real inside game.

The next issue is just what to do? You have two championships with a stench although the Red Sox – my team so my sanctimonious defense – were monitored during the playoffs on their way to another World Series flag. But the Astros? They were far more devious and creative including an expensive order of trash cans from Amazon. Maybe a new baseball movie? Bang the trash can slowly?

I have no fear of how this will be handled vis-a-vis every precious accounting of wins and losses. As I peck through this undoubtedly a battalion of baseball nerds is applying advance metrics to create not park-adjusted, but sign-stealing adjusted to the grand scheme of wins and losses.

Are the 108 wins going to go under 100? I await a final clerical determination. Meanwhile, it is fodder for the haters. The social media exchanges by the pristine New York Yankee fans have a certain amount of thunder of late.

The most significant fallout is employment that is a direct result of unemployment. The Astros are now looking anywhere but the state penitentiary for on-field and off-field management as their owner Jim Crane has no doubt installed lie detectors as part of the interview process. But what about Boston?

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The talk is just who can they get to empty the filled bilge tanks. Dusty Baker – almost as old as Erskine – has been mentioned. Jason Varitek is certainly on the shortlist – respected and one certainly familiar with negative behaviors such as beer and chicken. Maybe Dustin Pedroia as player-manager but the player part seems as sure-fire as David Price behaving himself.

A bench coach is considered a manager-in-waiting and the Red Sox have one in Ron Roenicke. Roenicke did manage the Brewers (342-331) and is a baseball lifer. But what about last season? If Roenicke was unaware of what was taking place or aware that leaves him – from my saintly perspective – out of the mix.

The Red Sox have been on a discipline roll for 2019 and it has drifted to the dismay of management into the offseason. First were Steven Wright and personal and professional issues that have resulted in his dismissal and the next is another farm hand getting popped by MLB for a positive drug test. Add Alex Cora to the blender along with the departure of Dave Dombrowski and Red Sox Nation has some significant repairs to be done.

Jason Varitek should be bench coach, not manager. dark. Next

Is there a nugget of good news from this mess? Expect this as collateral damage since the list of accomplices (other teams) will be expanding exponentially. A domino effect will happen as a validation to the “everyone does it” crowd will be cemented with each hand wringing confession by an aging and long retired veteran or an active player with loose lips. So Red Sox fans keep those pointing fingers warm since I expect a target-rich environment.