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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

If charges are true, MLB must come down hard on Red Sox

Alex Cora is now connected to two teams under suspicion — the 2017 Astros and the 2018 Red Sox.
Alex Cora is now connected to two teams under suspicion — the 2017 Astros and the 2018 Red Sox.file/Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Throw the book at ’em.

If the new report is accurate — and there is no reason to believe it is not accurate — the Red Sox are an arrogant disgrace.

World champs in 2018? Swell. At this moment, the evidence indicates that when it came to winning the big games, “Our cheaters were better than their cheaters.’’

The 2018 Red Sox were good. They probably didn’t need to cheat to get an edge. But there appears to be ample evidence that they cheated. Just as the Patriots cheated with Spygate in 2007, and most likely again in the Super Bowl-winning season of 2014 during Deflategate.

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The Sox of ’18 and the Patriots of most years were better than all the other teams, but that was never good enough. In the spirit of Red Auerbach, the Red Sox and Patriots took it to the next level. They covered all the bases. They uncovered every rock. Even if it made them bottom-feeding cheaters.

In case you missed it, a report from a couple of well-respected scribes at The Athletic charged Tuesday that the 2018 world champion Red Sox illegally used their video replay room to gain an advantage during their 119-win season.

The defense, as usual, will be, “Everybody was doing it.’’

Sorry. Not good enough. If the report is accurate, the 2018 Red Sox tainted their championship. They are no different than the Spygate Patriots. And if you are OK with those cheatin’ Pats, you no doubt will be OK with this.

Related: Want to end video-aided sign stealing? Get rid of video

But the arrogance and boldness of the Red Sox’ alleged transgression is off the charts. It is not something that should make our region proud. This is the kind of infraction that provokes the NCAA to vacate tournament appearances and championships.

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“Haunted” by the legacy of Yawkey Way? Red Sox owners John Henry, who also owns the Globe, and Tom Werner should take a look inside their own clubhouse.

No one is going to strip the 2018 Red Sox of their championship banner, but everything from that season is now tainted (do I have to keep saying “if the new report is accurate”?).

Meanwhile, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred looks like a stooge. And vaunted Red Sox manager Alex Cora has a lot of explaining to do.

Fair or unfair, the popular and successful Cora represents the common denominator of MLB’s last two cheating investigations. Cora is the thread that connects the 2017 world champion Astros and the 2018 world champion Red Sox.

The Red Sox can hope that this news bomb gets lost in the Tom Brady fallout after Saturday’s stunning Patriot playoff loss to the Titans. Perhaps this inadvertent news-dump timing will work for the local diamond nine. But baseball still matters to some people in this region and this latest scandal is not going to dissolve into the ether of the Patriot malaise.

The most galling aspect of this latest charge against the Red Sox is the soft manner in which the Sox were treated after they got caught cheating in the infamous 2017 Apple Watch (technically, Fitbit) scandal of 2017.

Those John Farrell Red Sox were guilty, without doubt. They admitted the scam and took a slap on the wrist from the feeble Manfred. Like a weak parent admonishing a chagrined child, Manfred pledged that things would be much worse if any team did anything like this again.

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And then the Astros and Red Sox gave Manfred the finger, blatantly using electronics to cheat in their championship seasons of 2017 and 2018 (if the new report is accurate). The Astros banged on their trash can to let hitters know that off-speed pitches were coming, and the bold, shifty Sox darted in and out of their video replay room to relay information to Boston hitters who were amazingly good in 2018.

If was almost as if the Red Sox batters knew what pitch was coming.

Perhaps because they did.

In September of 2017, after the Apple Watch Sox got fined by the limp Manfred, the late, great Nick Cafardo wrote of the “very lenient punishment the Red Sox received after being caught red-handed stealing signs with an electronic device.’’

“Basically, what Manfred said in his discipline was the next team to try something like this is really going to get nailed,’’ wrote Cafardo.

This didn’t stop the Astros from cheating for the rest of the 2017 season or the Sox from using electronics to cheat in 2018. Champions both. Cheaters both (if the reports are accurate).

Baseball needs to fix this.

Organic sign-stealing is cool. And fun. Nobody is better at it than Alex Cora.

But the sophistication of modern electronic devices has changed the landscape. It needs to be policed. Video in ballparks needs to be curtailed and controlled — like folks visiting cockpits in commercial aircraft after 2001. And the nonsense of players and team personnel going back and forth into the clubhouse and other underbelly areas of ballparks during games needs to stop. No other sport does this.

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It’s time for Rob Manfred to have his Kenesaw Mountain Landis moment. Eight Men Out. Whatever it takes.

Come down hard, Commish.

Baseball needs to get its game back under control. Time to be harsh. Time to make the punishments hurt.


Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com