ESPN – The kneecapping of the Houston Astros went off Monday in exquisite fashion. Big names were fired. Draft picks were revoked. A record fine was levied. Pounds of flesh were exacted from egregious cheaters. The optics worked. The Astros’ comeuppance was here, and it was severe. Major League Baseball was righting an obvious wrong.
As the day rolled on and people around baseball pondered exactly what had happened, a less obvious version of the story emerged. It was all so tidy, all so clean, so carefully orchestrated and meticulously calibrated — like something the Astros, ever lauded for their efficiency and ruthlessness, might concoct…As much as MLB played the big, bad monolith in delivering the ruinous news from on high, this was not some unilateral punishment for the Astros. It was a sneak peek inside the sausage factory of power and the anger that Crane’s relative acquittal caused across the league…Multiple ownership-level sources told ESPN that dissatisfaction with the penalties had emerged following a conference call with Manfred, in which he explained how the Astros would be disciplined, then told teams to keep their thoughts to themselves..”Crane won,” he said. “The entire thing was programmed to protect the future of the franchise. He got his championship. He keeps his team. His fine is nothing. The sport lost, but Crane won.”
It’s a long read, but I definitely recommend you check out Jeff Passan’s whole story because it is a pretty fascinating peak behind the curtain. My first reaction to the Astros news yesterday was that they got absolutely HAMMERED by the league. The other owners don’t seem to agree. While I completely understand owners around the league still being bullshit at the Astros, this Passan story just shows how out of touch these team owners have become. What the hell do you want Manfred to do? He fined the Astros the largest team penalty in league history at $5M (and the maximum allowed under MLB rules), banned the GM and the manager for a year and took 1st and 2nd round picks from the team for the next two years. I know, I know the Astros will recoup most of that $5M, if not more in money saved from not having to pay those four draft picks.
With all things considered, thats still pretty, pretty savage. Especially for an organization like MLB that is basically setup like a franchise model thats comprised of franchisees operating their own businesses. For all his faults, Manfred is working with what he’s got here and a lot of that is playing politics amongst 30 billionaires. These owners have no idea what it takes to appease a boss, let alone 30 bosses that make 100x what you make annually, so to bitch and moan about the punishment rings hollow.
“Manfred’s report named Beltran as one of the players involved in the scheme, though the league did not discipline him because it gave players immunity in exchange for their testimony.
That choice registered publicly as another curious part of Manfred’s ultimate decision. What sort of disciplinary action clears players for a “player-driven” scheme? The answer is a practical one. Between the well-defined lines that held GMs and managers responsible and the fear of the Major League Baseball Players Association defending any discipline against active players and sending the cases into grievance hell, Manfred’s pragmatism here, though not satisfying, is understandable.”
Have these guys never watched a cop movie in their lives? Or an episode of The Sopranos? You gotta let some of the small time guys off the hook if you want to get anyone to talk about the Capos. This ain’t the NBA in the 70s where David Stern could just tell some bum owners what was going to happen and they had to accept it.
Now its just a matter of time until Alex Cora gets absolutely roasted himself. Passan cited two sources saying “the end of Cora’s time in Boston could be coming” Alex Cora got the axe from John Henry on Tuesday night. During the middle of the Jeopardy GOAT Tournament no less, which is about as big of a news dump as I can remember.
This came as no surprise because of the optics of the situation. There was no way the Sox were going to take that heat for a guy who in all likelihood won’t be able to work for *at least* the next year. AJ Hinch already completely threw Cora under the bus in the statement he released
“While the evidence consistently showed I didn’t organize or participate in the sign stealing practices, I failed to stop them”
— The 300s (@The300sBoston) January 14, 2020
Although Shaugnessy did a nice job playing both sides of the fence on this one and reported on Tuesday that the Sox may not actually fire Cora.
I think any reasonable person understands sign stealing happens in baseball and the more technology you add the more sophisticated the sign stealing is going to become. Granted it’s my favorite baseball team that is embroiled in this, but as former Marlins slugger Logan Morrison has said, he knows first hand of several teams that do the same type of stuff.
Some more detailed accusations from Logan Morrison on Instagram, calling out the Astros as far back as 2014, as well as the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox for using technology to aid sign-stealing. pic.twitter.com/h7TySzpO1W
— John Trupin (@JohnTrupin) January 13, 2020
Manfred’s report directly references how teams like the Yankees were fined for doing the same exact thing in 2017. I mean Cora even joked about Carlos Beltran and how much he’s “helped” the Yankees after the Sox got bludgeoned by them in the London Series last season.
Here’s video of the Alex Cora soundbite we just played on @WFANmornings. This was following the Yankees’ sweep of Boston in the 2019 London Series. Check out the wink after he brings up Carlos Beltran’s name around :27 and unprovoked usage of the word “devices.” (h/t @Pacmangrig) pic.twitter.com/HgkglIoB7O
— Chris Lopresti (@CLoprestiWFAN) January 15, 2020
So lets not all start acting like this is someone stealing a $20 out of the Sunday School collection basket. This is a bunch of guys getting bagged doing something they should not have been doing and they knew it. This is not the 1918 Black Sox throwing a game and ruining the integrity of baseball.
Just take a look at the response Passan got when he asked an unnamed team president if he would take that hit for a World Series title:
“I don’t know that I would,” one team president said, “but I don’t know that I wouldn’t.” It was an honest answer.”
So everybody just pump the breaks on the hysteria train before you hurt yourselves.