TORONTO – There's never been so much in the rightly rigorous discipline of the Houston Astros in Major League Baseball. The series of personal, financial, and design penalties imposed by Commissioner Rob Manfred and team owner Jim Crane caused both GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch is one of the hardest in the game's long and sometimes dirty history. This is the 1919 Chicago Black Sox and Pete Rose play area that is perfectly appropriate when the integrity of the sport is at such a great risk.
Given that we were already here in 2017 when the Boston Red Sox were caught cheating with smart watches and were only punished for the hustle and bustle, some feared that the Astros would escape with another punch on the wrist. Instead, Manfred gave the face a slap that should resonate with those who want to draw the line between legitimate gameplay and illegal fraud.
Everyone knows the consequences now, and they really are boys.
Even more remarkable is the way in which Manfred publicly denigrated a baseball company culture, which he described as "very problematic", in a thorough and well-founded, nine-page decision that was released to the media , Given the outrageous and shameful harassment of three female reporters by fired assistant GM Brandon Taubman during a post-season celebration that triggered the Astros Front Office's initial investigation, this is significant and has certainly forced Crane's hand to fire one of the two smartest Executives in sports.
I just can't get a guy back from a seasonal ban and move forward as if nothing had happened when Manfred wrote the following: “At least in my view, the baseball operations department's island landscape – one that values and rewards results Other considerations, combined with employees who often lacked guidance or sufficient control, at least partially led to the Brandon Taubman incident, the club's admittedly inadequate and inaccurate response to the incident, and ultimately to an environment that made it possible for that The behavior described in this report has occurred. "
Take a second to take care of it. When was the last time a commissioner for a sport made such a comprehensive complaint about the core nature of a club?
He just crushed them.
Then, pending Shaggy's defense, Luhnow announced in a statement that he assumed responsibility and blamed subordinates, including, without naming him directly, Alex Cora, the former bank coach and current Red Sox. Manager.
Jeff Luhnow published this statement through a lawyer. Pic.twitter.com/ZNbKzb6EBI
– Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) January 13, 2020
Manfred made it clear that ignorance does not release anyone from responsibility.
"Regardless of Luhnow's current state of knowledge, the Astros rule violation in 2017 and 2018 is, in my opinion, due to the fact that the heads of the baseball operations department and the field manager did not adequately manage the employees under their supervision," Manfred wrote, "To establish a culture in which adherence to the rules is anchored in the structure of the organization, and to stop bad behavior as soon as it occurred. "
In other words, if it happens on your watch, you own it as it should and for your problems, besides coughing up $ 5 million and two tips for the first round and two for the second round need picks, the Astros must find a new GM and manager. Given that they have wages that go beyond the luxury estimated at $ 216 million, losing two top leaders per month before spring training tends to be disadvantageous for taking up an expensive roster ,
(Tangens here, but John Gibbons makes sense as a manager for a win-now team in need of stability. He offers a steady hand like Jim Fregosi when the Toronto Blue Jays fired Tim Johnson in the spring of 1999. )
So examples were given – something that Major League Baseball 2017 should have done with the Red Sox and maybe created a deterrent that would have prevented all of that – and the real question now is whether it’s enough for the game, to move forward.
The discipline for Cora, which is presented in the report as an Astros mastermind, for his role in a similar plan to steal signs with the 2018 Red Sox is still ongoing, and the burden could be higher as he has broken the rules with two clubs now.
Whether Cora can survive as Luhnow and Hinch did is not closely observed, but how things are among the players is all the more interesting.
In private, the players have whispered for a long time that the Astros are not the only ones who do this, but also other clubs that deal with the dark arts. The relative silence of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost the World Series to the Astros in 2017 and 18 to the Red Sox, makes you wonder if they refuse to throw stones because they have sinned.
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And hey, maybe there really was a man in white who was employed by the Toronto Blue Jays to relay signs from the midfield seats. Wait, was that the last decade? Don't worry, better hide it, folks, stat.
Seriously how deep a dive leads into the cave of the theft of signs is an interesting debate. How do players who feel cheated react? Does Baseball need a Mitchell report on steroid testing to find out who did what with electronic sign stealing and when? Is that pound of Astros meat enough to keep the bold and immoral out?
cloudy, ground, everything.
Regardless, the rules for engaging fraudsters are now clear. Manfred has established a basis for punishment to deal with the crime, and he will bring the call to his knees by showing the perpetrators out the door.