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MLB issues statement on Red Sox cheating

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MLB: ALCS-Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Manfred, showing who pays him, came down with punishment on the Red Sox for their cheating. If you had ‘it was on the video replay operator’s doing’ then you win.

Among his findings:

• I do not find that then-Manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis. Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only.

• I find that unlike the Houston Astros’ 2017 conduct, in which players communicated to the batter from the dugout area in real time the precise type of pitch about to be thrown, Watkins’s conduct, by its very nature, was far more limited in scope and impact. The information was only relevant when the Red Sox had a runner on second base (which was 19.7% of plate appearances league wide in 2018), and Watkins communicated sign sequences in a manner that indicated that he had decoded them from the in-game feed in only a small percentage of those occurrences.

So only the video operator and ‘a limited number of players’ knew about it. Beyond that, I don’t know why Manfred feels the need to tell us how unimportant the cheating was.

Punishment?

1) J.T. Watkins shall be suspended for the 2020 season and 2020 Postseason. When Watkins returns from his suspension, he will be prohibited from serving as the replay room operator during any game for the 2021 season and 2021 Postseason.

2) The Boston Red Sox will forfeit their second round selection in the 2020 First-Year Player Draft.

I think we’ve all be suspended for the 2020 season, but ok.

3) Alex Cora will be suspended through the conclusion of the 2020 Postseason for his conduct as the bench coach of the Houston Astros in 2017. While I will not impose additional discipline on Cora as a result of the conduct engaged in by Watkins (because I do not find that he was aware of it), I do note that Cora did not effectively communicate to Red Sox players the sign-stealing rules that were in place for the 2018 season.

I don’t know, I guess I should have been ready to hear that there was going to be no real punishment, but this seems just silly to suggested it was just a video operator who was doing it all.

Now all the cheating in the MLB has been nicely swept under the rub dealt with.