Unless you've been consumed by the unfolding drama in Washington DC this week, you've undoubtedly have heard about the latest scandal in baseball involving the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox and stealing signs.
For both of you that are unfamiliar out there, here is a quick recap. Major League Baseball found that in 2017, the Houston Astros had an elaborate sign stealing system set-up, in Houston, that allowed them to see and transmit pitches to their batters through a series of cameras, phones, and trash can thumping.
MLB is also in the middle of investigating the Boston Red Sox for the same issue during the 2018 season that allegedly was brought over from the Astros when Alex Cora was hired as the Red Sox manager.
This latest cheating scandal comes on the heels of the decade long steroid scandal that nearly killed baseball, and continues to create headlines to this day, with many of the suspected cheaters now eligible for the Hall of Fame, and writers grapple with their place in baseball history.
MLB handed down severe punishment to the Astros for this, taking away their first and second draft picks for this year and next, fining them $5,000,000, the maximum allowed, and suspending the GM, Jeff Luhnow and the manager, AJ Hinch for one season. Houston Astro owner Jim Crane went even further, by immediately firing both Luhnow and Hinch.
Additionally, in the report, MLB announced that they were investigating Alex Cora and his role in this caper, which appears to be the starring role as the mastermind of the plan, while he was the Astros bench coach. And, while several players admitted to being involved, only one was named and that was Carlos Beltran.
Immediately after the firing of the Astros people, the Red Sox tried a preemptive move, by firing Alex Cora, before MLB handed down any penalties. So now we have two of the last three World Series winning managers, and one GM, out of baseball for cheating. Only 40 some days ago the New York Mets named the fourth person named in the report, Carlos Beltran, as their new manager and then abruptly tried to stave off further embarrassment by letting him go yesterday.
Incredibly, in the span of less than one week, three managers and a GM have been fired over this with less than five weeks until spring training starts. And it's only Friday morning, and the next chapter of the report is still to come in the coming weeks. The rapidity of this whole unfolding story is as amazing as the story itself.
Just as everyone was catching their breath, two firestorms erupted on Twitter, yesterday and last night, that are keeping this story alive. First, Jessica Mendoza of ESPN, and the Mets front office, suggested that Mike Fiers, the player that told this story to the Athletic to get everything rolling, was a bad guy for going public. She later backtracked a bit, but nonetheless she raised eyebrows with her comments.
Then, as if there wasn't enough gasoline on this fire, reports started to surface, that were re-tweeted by players and fans alike, that several baseball players were wearing a buzzer under their uniforms that told them what pitches were coming.
As you can imagine there immediately surfaced many pictures of suspected shapes under uniforms of several players on different teams, and video of one player, Jose Altuve of the Astros, pleading with his teammates to not tear off his uniform top after a game ending home run.
MLB has clearly stated that they investigated this rumor early on in the process and could find no facts to back this up. Of course facts never get in the way of a good Twitter story as we know. (Or this column as many of you out there know)
As a fan I'm glad this has come to light, and I'm not feeling any sorrow for those involved and their punishment. I don't like cheaters in anything so good riddance to them all. However, if MLB does not immediately announce that they are expanding this investigation into all 31 teams, and then report on every player, manager, and front office type that is cheating, there will be another permanent stain on baseball, and especially those that are innocent, forever.
The steroids mess proves that everyone in the game has been tarnished in some way, most of them with no cause for it, because of the actions of a few. Unless baseball names the cheaters,every player in the game today will always have fans wondering did they or didn't they?