From the White House to the bullpen, blessed are the whistle-blowers.
They make us face truth — and conscience.
For daring to impose such inconvenience, the truth-tellers are hunted down and hated. In the case of former Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers, they are also called out as a “snitch” by former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Fiers told reporters he has also received death threats for the role he played in exposing the sign-stealing scandal that now taints Major League Baseball.
Fiers, who now pitches for the Oakland Athletics, played for the Astros from 2015 to 2017. Part of the criticism aimed at him — and why Ortiz said he’s “mad” at him — is that Fiers waited until after he left Houston, with a World Series ring, before he officially blew the whistle on his former teammates.
Better late than never. Besides, whatever the timing of Fiers’s moral awakening, it doesn’t erase the essential truth of what he disclosed: The Astros were using outfield cameras to steal signs, and banging on trash cans to tell hitters what was coming their way. And that was wrong.
Just like Fiers, the CIA official who allegedly blew the whistle on President Trump’s call to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has also been demonized and his motives questioned. Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, did their best to unmask the whistle-blower during President Trump’s impeachment trial. At one point, Trump retweeted a message to his 68 million followers that named the alleged whistle-blower. That name was also put out by conservative news outlets. The whistle-blower’s legal team also got death threats, as did others who testified against Trump.
As the summary of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky clearly showed, the president was banging the trash can himself. But the truth of the revelations did not matter to Team Trump. All that mattered was why the whistle-blower blew the whistle. Witnesses who backed up the whistle-blower — like Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland, the now-former US ambassador to the European Union — paid a price for their honesty. Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran on the National Security Council, was ultimately fired and marched out of the White House by security guards, along with his twin, Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, who also worked on the National Security Council. Sondland was recalled from his post the same day the Vindmans were fired. For voting to convict Trump on the abuse-of-power impeachment charge, Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah was denounced as a Judas and a traitor.
Coming from a president who dodges truth like a second baseman leaping to avoid a hard slide from a runner, none of that is surprising.
At least with the baseball scandal, there’s consensus: The Astros cheated. As a result of the MLB investigation, general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were fired by the Astros. Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who were both part of the Astros team in 2017, also lost their jobs. Beltran, one of the best hitters on the Astros when he led the illegal sign-stealing scheme, was the only player to be penalized. While that rankles some, witnesses are often granted immunity for telling the truth.
Meanwhile, the findings of an ongoing MLB investigation into Red Sox cheating allegations are reportedly imminent. (The team is owned by John Henry, who also owns the Globe.) That’s why the comments Ortiz made about Fiers seem especially wrong, for they feel like an effort to intimidate others from telling what they know. That’s a bad look for Ortiz, who is idolized by kids.
The truth is often unpleasant. Those who bring it to us are not always pure of motive, or blameless. But in the game of life, there is something called right and wrong. We should be able to see the difference, no matter what team we are rooting for.