If you haven’t read the article written by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich for The Athletic, it talks about the Red Sox using the replay room to steal signs during the 2018 regular season. The post season was not affected because MLB had people in the replay rooms to make sure teams were not stealing signs via live video.
The Red Sox were caught in 2017 for using the replay room to steal signs and using an Apple Watch to send the information. The punishment they received was only a fine. According to Commissioner Rob Manfred, “he received “absolute assurances” from the Red Sox that they would not engage in illegal sign-stealing activity”. All 30 teams received a memo stating that any team caught in the future will receive harsh punishment. That the Red Sox got caught again pretty much makes Manfred look stupid.
And because the Yankees have been mentioned by many fans who do not read articles, the Yankees were also fined that year but it wasn’t for using YES Network cameras as the Red Sox claimed. It was for improper phone use which MLB found that the conversation was not breaking any rules. They couldn’t use the phone for any type of communication beyond it’s intended use. In an article that Andy Martino wrote for SNY, the fine was because the Yankees pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, used the replay phone asking the replay coordinator, Brett Weber, if a certain pitch was a ball or strike.
That 2018 Red Sox was fun to watch. That said, I am not surprised that Cora brought some tricks from Houston. I have always suspected he did and to be honest, I am disappointed it was confirmed. It’s always been said that Alex was one of those players that was really good at picking up signs while on base and if a pitcher was tipping. It’s a shame that Alex felt the need to start a system to steal signs using video because, as I mentioned earlier, that Red Sox team was fun. They were basically unstoppable in October because of the amount of talent the roster had and the moves that never made Alex look bad. They won the World Series the right way so at least that is something positive out of this whole thing.
Understand that using video during a game to decode signs is not the same as figuring out the signs while standing at second base then signaling to the hitter. The crazy part is that during the 2018 World Series, there was a report that the Red Sox were pissed that Manny Machado was stealing signs while on second base and signalling to the hitter what was coming. What Machado did is the legal way and that is on the pitcher and catcher to change their signs during the game. When a team is using live video to decode signs, there is no way a pitcher and catcher can realize it while no one is on base. It’s why now, multiple signs are used even when the bases are empty.
After the Astros were handed their punishment and the owner, Jim Crane, announced in a press conference that Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch were fired, many suspected that Cora will be next. While MLB is still investigating the 2018 regular season, the Red Sox announced that the organization and Cora “mutually parted ways” in light of what the Astros investigation revealed. Let’s be honest though, Cora got fired. There is no way Cora can argue or deny being part of what the Astros did and what he did with the Red Sox at this point. This isn’t stopping MLB from continuing their investigation and hopefully they conclude it before Spring Training starts.
So now we wait on who will be the manager for 2020. The bench coach has experience as a manager and might be the best route to go for the Red Sox. The players will constantly hear questions about the investigation and Cora and they have every right to be annoyed by it. This doesn’t change the fact that the Red Sox are a good team and that they will contend this year. They just now have to do it while trying to block out the distraction of what happened during the winter.
UPDATE: The findings of the investigation were pretty much a joke. The league basically said it was a he said/she said type of thing. The players who spoke didn’t have concrete proof of the accusation while the replay guy who was accused couldn’t provide any reason why he was being blamed while denying he did anything. The Red Sox still ended up losing a draft pick because the guy is an employee of the organization. This will still look like the Red Sox cheated in 2018 in the eyes of many fans but in reality, there is no proof they did.
Thank God that is over.
*Image credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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