Every day there seems to be another Red Sox person or media report expressing confidence that Major League Baseball’s investigation into alleged cheating by the 2018 Sox will not result in significant punishment.
And I’m wondering . . . how can they know this when it’s an ongoing investigation?
On the day that the Sox brass parted ways with Alex Cora, John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy all asked that we “reserve judgment,” with Henry adding, “It’s unfortunate that we can’t comment.”
Asked if the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series without cheating, Henry and Kennedy said, “Absolutely.”
In Springfield last weekend, Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez said, “I’m excited for the investigation to get over with so they can see there was nothing going on here.”
Boston baseball boss Chaim Bloom told reporters that members of the 2018 coaching staff are being considered as Cora’s replacement. Bloom on Thursday said he does not need to wait for the MLB report before hiring the next manager.
On Jan. 16, WBZ’s Dan Roche (formerly part of the Sox broadcast team) tweeted, “Hearing more and more that the MLB investigation into 2018 Red Sox not turning up a lot . . . ’’
Thursday night when Lou Merloni (now part of the Sox radio team) was asked on NBC Sports Boston if he thought the Sox were going to get off “scot-free,’’ he answered, “I’m hearing that they believe they are. They believe that what they’re told is true and that they didn’t do anything. And if they didn’t do anything, there’s no reason for punishment.’’
Wow. Where is all this confidence coming from, considering that they are all talking about an investigation that has yet to be completed? Could it be that the Sox really are innocent?
The reporters who broke the news on the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal (Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich from The Athletic) are the same reporters that had three sources accusing the 108-win Red Sox of cheating in 2018.
It’s easier to believe that the fix is in. That would explain the confidence in a great outcome to an investigation that has yet to be completed. Players are still being interviewed by MLB.
Is it possible that the Sox agreed to part ways with Cora in exchange for absolution regarding allegations against them from 2018? Is it possible that commissioner Rob Manfred, who personally called Henry to let him know an investigation was being launched, feels he got his pound of flesh from those blatantly cheating Astros and now wants the whole thing to go away? I don’t have the answers, but the questions feel like they’re worth asking.
“The sign-stealing issue was brought to light by the press, which is how most issues come to light with MLB,’’ said Eddie Dominguez, a retired Boston police detective, author of “Baseball Cop,” and a former member of the MLB Department of Investigation, who has no direct involvement with this case. “I believe that the buck will stop with Cora’s firing. I don’t see anything coming out of the Red Sox investigation, and there surely won’t be any others. Nothing to see here.’’
Reached Friday, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said Manfred will not comment on the Red Sox investigation.
I’ll never believe the 2018 Sox were doing anything that reaches the level of the Astros’ cheating in 2017, but it’s hard to believe nothing was going on at Fenway. The John Farrell Sox were caught redhanded in the Apple Watch scandal in 2017 and were lightly sanctioned with a warning and a fine. The Sox then hired Cora, the godfather of modern sign-stealing. And now we are to believe that nothing was going on here in 2018, a year in which the Sox won 108 regular-season games. Are we also to believe that the unnamed sources from the 2018 Red Sox made stuff up when they spoke to The Athletic?
One could have similar suspicions about how John Calipari was treated by the NCAA. Coach Cal got rung up by the NCAA when he was at UMass and again at Memphis (two Final Four appearances vacated). But not at Kentucky. It’s easy to spank UMass and Memphis. But Kentucky is a blue-chip program. A proud part of the NCAA brand. Like the Red Sox in major league baseball. The Astros at this point are not a blue-chip program.
I e-mailed Red Sox ownership Friday afternoon at 1:25 to ask about the organization’s confidence that this investigation will end well for them: “There seems to be a lot of confidence from you guys, J.D. Martinez, Chaim (he told reporters he is comfortable considering 2018 staffers for managerial opening) that the club feels it will be exonerated by MLB investigation into 2018 Sox. Media reports from Rochie and Merloni echo this. 1. Is it accurate to state you are confident there will be no punishments? 2. Have you been told anything by MLB?”
An hour later, Werner wrote, “We will have nothing further to say than what we have already stated — fans should reserve judgment until the report is issued.’’
Fair enough. I wouldn’t answer me, either, if I were them. Wonder how this is going to play with folks in Houston if the Red Sox get another slap on the wrist.
What a baseball winter here in Boston. No trades. No acquisitions of any significance. Just the sudden loss of the most beloved Red Sox manager since Terry Francona on the heels of a desire to pare payroll and a raft of Mookie Betts trade rumors.
Truck Day is a week from Monday.