On January 7, 2019, ESPN created an article that was called “Report: Red Sox used replay room to steal signs in 2018 season”. It was reported from The Athletic first. But now, I’m going to tell you what happened, one key twist of note, and what can be done to stop this epidemic.
In a newsletter exclusive on October 14, this was my first paragraph:
It is October 28, 2018. Chris Sale is pitching. The count is 1-2 against the Dodgers. Manny Machado steps into the Batter’s Box. He knows what will happen, as does everyone else watching, because the score is 5-1. The game is all but certain. The fans are quiet. Chris Sale pitches, a horrible pitch as it almost hits Manny Machado, but Machado swings. And he misses. And the Red Sox have won.
Well, now should they have won?
The Boston Red Sox are one of the most well known baseball franchises in the MLB. They’ve won 9 World Championships, and they’ve been home to some of the most well known players, such as Ted Williams and Wade Boggs. They were also known for going 86 years without a World Series, which was claimed to be caused by “The Curse of Bambino”. It was broken in 2004, and the Red Sox would win it all again in 2007 and 2013. In 2018 they were looking to rebound after losing in the ALDS for 2 straight years. Even making the playoffs in 2016 though, should be considered a good season. In 2015 and 2016, the Red Sox had finished last in the tough AL East. But in 2018, the Red Sox were dominant, as they got 108 wins. They won the World Series 4-1 against the Dodgers, and they were looking to repeat the next year.
Let’s cut off there, when the Red Sox won the World Series. Now let’s talk about their cheating system.
Red Sox players would visit their replay room, which was showing live feed of the opposing catcher’s hand signals. They would relay that information to the dugout, who would in turn communicate to a baserunner, who would use body movements to relay the pitch information to the batter. The batter would then know what pitch would be coming. This system was only used in 2018.
Well, this explains some things. In 2017 the Red Sox scored 785 runs. In 2018 they scored 876, a near 100 runs more than 2017. Obviously, there must have been some roster changes.
There was one change. Yeah, it was a big one, but it can’t explain that bis of a jump. His name is JD Martinez. He was MVP caliber, but he most have benefited a little. In fact, the stats say so too.
JD Martinez jumped in AVG, OBP, RBI, BB, 2B, H, R, and do I need to go on. He had identical HR numbers. Yeah, he was better in 2018 than he was in 2017. And then, there is a clear cut example. And his name is Mookie Betts.
Mookie Betts had hit .264 in 2017 with 24 home runs and 80 RBIs, which was not the best year-but not the worst either. But in 2018 he won the MVP. He hit .346 with a .438 OBP and 32 home runs. He was phenomenal. He was one of the league’s best players. Now, how can a player go up that fast? That can go down that fast (see Everything to Nothing: Billy Burns), but not up THAT fast. Mookie Betts had always been a good player (.318 AVG, 31 HR, .897 OPS 2016), but not MVP caliber.
The Red Sox obviously cheated. But, there is a tie to the Astros cheating scandal, or a darn good theory.
On November 3, 2017, Alex Cora was introduced to the Red Sox. Who was he at this moment? He was the Astros bench coach who was just coming off of a World Series title, and he was only 42 years old. He had 14 years of playing experience, and 1 World Series ring under his belt as a manager. He wasn’t a questionable hire, but there were probably better options on the market.
It wasn’t too questionable after he won another World Series, and he did it the “right” way. Well, for now.
In November 2019, the Astros scandal came out. It rocked headlines. The Astros had cheated. What I didn’t know when I wrote my article on it was that a scenario, a picture of when it started had just come out. It goes like this:
On May 23, a struggling player meets with a coach for a system where he can get ahead…
Most people with a reasonable mind would know that this player was Carlos Beltran. He was hitting .236 at the time, with only 4 home runs. That’s really not good. But why Cora?
Cora was the bench coach, and the bench coach is the player’s coach. He also had access to technology, and the pitching coaches certainly aren’t going to help the batters cheat. The batting coaches have to focus on actually training players, so that leaves Cora.
On Mays 23, Carlos Beltran meets with Alex Cora to devise a system of cheating…
This is a huge twist. At least Cora didn’t go to the Nationals, who won the World Series in 2019. They won honestly, but wait! (It’s called previewing guys.)
But honestly it doesn’t explain the fall of the Red Sox, because the Red Sox scored more runs than 2018. The problem was the pitching. That leaves the question: would the Red Sox still be good in 2018 without the cheating? I think no. Betts wouldn’t have been as good, and neither would Martinez. In 2019 the pitching was just so bad, that the best pitcher had an ERA of 3.81.
Something here just doesn’t fit. Why would the Red Sox get better from non-cheating to cheating, but then get worse from cheating to non-cheating? But to me, this question doesn’t have to be asked. To me, the Red Sox never stopped cheating. And here’s why.
Why would Cora stop cheating? He obviously did, or knew about it in 2017, and he did it in 2018. It had worked twice, why not a third time? Honestly, he never stopped. And his system in 2019 worked too. Since I am not an Athletic subscriber, I cannot know the reason that they put to show that the Red Sox didn’t to it in 2019.
My best guess is that there is no proof, and the MLB could’ve started to put league officials in the Video Replay Rooms with the coaches.
What the heck can we do? Rob Manfred is close to a decision on the Astros scandal, but now another one? Really? He will definitely include a fine, as well as losing draft picks, technology restrictions, and some big time probation. But it’s not going to stop teams. They will see that if they pay $500,000 in fines then they will win a World Series. That is a minimum wage MLB player. Rob Manfred needs to do something, but I don’t think anybody knows what.
I topped off my Astros cheating article with this line:
One more thing, baseball is stronger. And we will move on.
Now I’m not confident. How can we move on? 2 straight years a crooked, scandalous World Series happened. Obviously baseball is not stronger. It’s horrible.
Rob Manfred needs to send a statement. If the MLB finds Cora guilty of doing BOTH scandals, they have to ban him for 5 years-life. In my opinion, it’s the only way to do it.
I have lost hope, and I’m sure many others have as well. We need to solve this, and fast.