Red Sox: Look for MLB Commissioner to lower the boom on Boston
A groundswell of MLB players accusing Commissioner Rob Manfred of leniency for the Astros in the sign-stealing scandal could mean trouble for the Red Sox.
OK, deep breath . . . If you are one of those Red Sox loyalists expecting MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to rubber-stamp a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for the Boston once the MLB completes its investigation into the team’s alleged sign-stealing escapades of 2018, guess again.
Let’s put it this way: it’s time to cue up some 1980’s M.C. Hammer and his “Greatest Hit” album (name one other Top 40 hit he had other than “U Can’t Touch This”). Things have changed in the last week or so, such that it’s better than even odds the Red Sox get hit harder than expected (what’s expected is not much at all). Hammer time, courtesy of Rob Manfred.
MLB’s investigation of the Red Sox was expected to be done by the start of spring training, which was a week ago; now we’re talking closer to the end of February.
One bit of sheer speculation: Manfred tacked on those extra two weeks to give his sleuths time to interview (interrogate?) the likes of David Price, Mookie Betts, and Brock Holt once they were safely ensconced with their new teams and perhaps more transparent about the sign-stealing accusations.
Don’t be shocked if Manfred’s investigation produces at least a two-year (or longer) ban for former Red Sox manager Alex Cora, forfeiture of the 2018 World Series title (and trophy), and a seven-figure fine and loss of draft picks.
If even half of that comes true, a downer offseason for the Red Sox becomes a spring training in chaos. Oh, and Manfred uses his announcing the Red Sox sanctions as cover to also say he is taking away the Astros’ World Series title, as he should.
You say there’s no precedent for stripping teams of World Series championships? I say, where does it say Manfred can’t start a new precedent, one that is merited? While he’s at it, he should remove Pete Rose’s lifetime ban, restoring Rose’s Baseball Hall of Fame eligibility before he passes away.
Enough is enough. Carlos Beltran makes Rose look like Saint Peter. Rose bet on games as Cincinnati Reds manager but show the jury where anything he did had a direct effect on who won the World Series in a given season. Not even close. Rose has served his 30 years. Free Pete!
In case you missed it, Manfred has been under an MLB-wide assault coming at him from all sides. Under Siege III: The Rob Manfred Story. One notable player after another is castigating him for not only declining to take away the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series title but for also referring to the Commissioner’s Trophy as nothing more than a piece of metal. Oops. (For which Manfred has apologized).
The court of player/public opinion could be pushing Manfred to strip the Astros of their World Series title. Such a once-unthinkable move has now been downgraded to conceivable.
Consider the logical, understandable outrage among a growing list of players as mentioned by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, citing the likes of the best yet most-understated player in baseball, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, and Dodgers third baseman Josh Turner.
In recent weeks, several Red Sox players (among them Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez) have claimed the Sox didn’t cheat in 2018 and to not expect much of anything in the way of MLB sanctions. Today, considering the seismic shift that has rattled Manfred’s office, that sounds like being in denial mixed with naivete and wishful thinking. Or could they be spot on? Don’t bet on it.
As for NBA player LeBron James tweeting about Manfred (“listen to your players”), the King has no juice here. This is a guy who a few days ago served as a captain in the annual NBA All-Star Game, which ranks as one of the biggest shams going in today’s sports world.
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Once again, the NBA’s annual showcase game – its love letter to fans and itself – featured laughable absentee defense, hideous shot selection, and pathetic ball handling, all tolerated by refs who didn’t call jack.
Never has watching teams score 150+ points been so intolerable. At times, the NBA regular season isn’t much better, a couple of bricks shy of WWF. Hey, LeBron, clean up your own game before you start brooming commissioners from other sports.
Houston, you have a problem. You need to give back your 2017 World Series title. Ditto you, Boston, for 2018. Baseball will recover, and Manfred might even save his job in the process. There’s nothing like a growing groundswell encompassing an increasing number of players and teams, and therefore team owners, to put the squeeze on a commissioner who answers to those owners.
In light of all this, baseball in Hollywood finally has its long-awaited sequel to “Bang the Drum Slowly,” someday to hit theaters as “Bang the Trash Can Quickly (or Not At All),” possibly starring Daddy Yankee as Alex Cora, Joaquin Phoenix as A.J. (After “Joker”) Hinch, Carlos Ponce as Carlos Beltran and Tom Cruise as Rob Manfred.
Presumably little can make Manfred smile or laugh at this point, though. No joking here. This winter has given him a massive mess that seems far too large for him to clean up. Soon, the Boston Red Sox will feel the sting, too; to what extent to be determined.