On October 28, 2018 as the Boston Red Sox hoisted their 9th World Series Title in Los Angeles, hero Alex Cora with his hands on the trophy, there was a man in the shadows. Unbeknownst to anyone, replay room staffer and advanced scouting assistant J.T. Watkins was either giving high fives to all of his compatriots or sitting in the corner by himself with a grin on his face, so proud of what he had accomplished; singlehandedly of course. He is the real evil that existed within the Red Sox organization. Thank God they identified him and were able to punish him to the extent he deserved.
I hope you all know I am totally joking and that MLB’s investigation of this situation was a sham. At the end of March Rob Manfred promised there would be a resolution to the Red Sox cheating scandal by May and/or before baseball resumed play. He at least held true to that statement, but in the process made a mockery of the sport that I love. As a punishment for cheating their way to the 2018 World Championship the Boston Red Sox were stripped of a second draft pick and were not held accountable in any other way. Former Manager Alex Cora was suspended for the 2020 season, but not for what happened in Boston. He was a stone cold cheater in Houston, but once he arrived in Boston he had become a changed man and was totally oblivious to the dastardly deeds that were occurring within the prestigious Boston Red Sox Organization.
Does anyone actually believe that this is really what happened? Is this conceivable to anyone that has been following this situation? The ruling laid down by Rob Manfred and MLB states that Watkins was the mastermind in revising sign sequence information that he provided to players and was a key player in the Apple Watch Scheme in 2017. Let me state with absolutely certainty that I am not absolving Watkins of any wrongdoing, but to pin him as the only guilty party within the Red Sox organization is absolutely asinine. Are we meant to believe that Watkins was the sole participant in this entire scheme as as well as the only one left from the previous year’s indiscretions? Such disrespect for our intelligence.
So this is what we are left with, as the almighty Rob Manfred has spoken. No one believes a word of this entire investigation and not even the most passionate Red Sox fan can accept this as the truth. However, we need to come to the realization that nothing we think or believe as baseball fans matters anymore. This game is not ours and I am starting to wonder if it ever was in the first place. Two of the last three World Series Champions are bona fide cheaters. There is no denying this, but we are being told to forget or even worse, ignore this fact.
Thinking about all of this has started to open a Pandora’s Box of Baseball History in my mind. Rob Manfred is not the first figure associated with the game to openly state that cheating is OK. Honestly there have been very few to express the opposite; most famously among the select minority is Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Some of us are just as guilty as Manfred by the way that we hold many of baseball’s most notorious cheaters up on a pedestal; Ty Cobb, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and A-Rod. Other names and faces may have popped into your mind as I was listing off these famous players. Does this make us as bad or as culpable as the man we are accusing of ruining the game, at least as it pertains to this issue? Maybe, maybe not, but it is definitely something to think about.