Red Sox: Musings on the Boston-Astros sign-stealing fiasco

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred visits "Mornings With Maria" hosted by Maria Bartiromo at Fox Business Network Studios on September 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred visits "Mornings With Maria" hosted by Maria Bartiromo at Fox Business Network Studios on September 30, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball’s sign-stealing drama continues to percolate. Maybe a decision will be rendered by the next ice age?

Apparently, the Red Sox clubhouse is an insular environment where events are ignored, minimized or non-existent such as a concerted effort to pilfer signs. The chain of command within the clubhouse is the manager and former manager Alex Cora had already developed an intriguing method of sign-stealing with Houston.

Did this disappear with Boston? Was Cora’s second in command Ron Roenicke left out of the loop, unaware, naïve, or simply sheltered from the sign-stealing operation? A Sargent Shultz approach? Hear and see nothing?

The investigation into the supposed misdeeds of the Red Sox has been an excruciating exercise in time displacement. An investigation that had all the speed of a marathon by sloths and the code word became “New developments” to explain the glacial movement of the baseball investigators.

There is due diligence, but this process was death by a thousand cuts. At least Cora chose to fall upon his sword and relinquish his managerial throne before having it removed by Commissioner Manfred. Kudos to Cora for doing the right thing.

The Manfred investigation at times appeared to be like that of Inspector Clouseau and at other points on the timepiece like Cotton Mather presiding over the Salem Witch Trials. Some suffered a draconian sentence and others received a pardon or immunity.

I find it incredulous that the leaders get tattered and those who benefited – the players – collectively got the get out of jail free card. Translation: potential union action and reaction has Manfred cowering. The Red Sox and Astros both have a nefarious linkage in what has become the baseball crime of this century.

The whistleblower in the scandal is a right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers. Fiers went to the most notated confessional of note: the media, and that meant Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich. The great emotional divide commenced with Fiers being either a Gandhi or Quisling.

Choose your words or emojis and do social media battle.  But Fiers started the sudden burst from players who lined up to confess their sins or point out other possible culprits.

As a baseball follower, my impression was the Astros and as a subtext, the Red Sox,  both were crime families with their managers assuming the roles of consigliere. I have little sympathy for Astros manager A.J. Hinch who displayed a pure milk toast approach to exercising managerial authority. His directives to cease operations were blissfully ignored and that placed him firmly as a titular leader only.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow pleaded ignorance and if GM’s had an injury list Luhnow would be on it for excessive finger-pointing elsewhere for the devious acts perpetrated. And the Astros players certainly set a low bar with an embarrassing apology display that had all the sincerity of a faith-healing seminar by Benny Hinn.

The team’s owner – Jim Crane – made the expected bluster to protect “The Brand” and quite naturally franchise value. To paraphrase Crane the Astros will clean house and this is not who we are, etc., etc.  The usual mile wide and inch deep pronouncements after being caught after getting the big cheese – a World Series title.

Crane has limited his ire as the Astros organization continues unperturbed by the involvement of others in the corporate hierarchy.

For the fans of the Astros, they can spend an inordinate amount of time for in all probability the rest of this century defending their team.  Some have managed to take the high road and some the middle road and far too many have leaned on to the “Everyone does it” defense. A defense that has some decent traction within the mindset of the followers of the game.

Apparently, the Astros major bungling was getting caught. This most certainly applied to Red Sox Nation that has mirrored similar responses.

One exception to the investigation by Major League Baseball was Dave Dombrowski whose Red Sox record remains clean despite the actions of his underlings. Dombrowski apparently was blissfully unaware of the shenanigans perpetrated by his personally selected manager. So much for having a pulse on the clubhouse.

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Red Sox players have already instituted and performed that old staple of a circle the wagons defense. No mea culpa from the Boston contingent since that would strike at the heart of their professional competency.

Just what profit they made from advanced knowledge is certainly an industrious exercise for a battalion of sabermetricians to determine.  No more park-adjusted, but pitch knowledge adjustment. As rewarding as a PED adjustment figure.

The universal player theme across the spectrum is knowledge. Nary a day goes by without words like “aware” and “knew” embedded in a story as players either attempt to gather a spec of the spotlight or maybe cleanse their consciousness.

When the issue first broke many a long-retired player come forward to detail their own knowledge of their teams and opponents’ methods. A tutorial on sign-stealing operations with a nice historical touch.

Next. David Ortiz is not happy with Mike Fiers. dark

The maelström of this fiasco is just another in a list of ethical dents that have hit John Henry. Henry’s recent public relations boondoggle around the Mookie Betts nightmare has certainly tainted the glossy finish of the franchise despite four championships.  If Henry pulled up stakes on the team hardly a teary eye could be found. The fans have soured and that will be quite visible with a plethora of empty seats.