By Ken Reed

Rob Manfred is either not taking these cheating scandals seriously or is simply a puppet whose only concern is not getting owners upset with him.

On Wednesday afternoon, the day before the NFL draft was set to begin (nice job burying the story Rob!) Manfred announced his punishment of the Red Sox in Major League Baseball’s latest cheating scandal. He took away Boston’s 2020 second round draft choice and suspended the Red Sox video replay system operator without pay for a year.

That’s it! That’s the entire punishment. No fines for the organization. No player fines or suspensions. No general manager suspension. Alex Cora, the Red Sox manager, had already been suspended for a year for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Cora was a coach for the Astros in 2017.

J.T. Watkins, is the video replay operator who was suspended by Manfred. He was in charge of supplying Boston hitters with scouting reports and patterns on opposing hitters in 2018. He would furnish Sox batters with pregame information on that day’s opponent. During games, he worked in the video room near the dugout.

MLB rules stipulate that he could not use the video replay system to update his information on opposing players during the game. However, multiple players said Watkins’ reports would change during games as he watched live video. Watkins was apparently updating opponents’ sign sequences in his in-game reports, according to several Red Sox players.

No, this doesn’t compare to the depth and blatant cheating of the Astros scandal, but it also represents the third time in five years the Red Sox have been punished by Manfred for cheating. Now, that seems like a pattern of cheating to me, and certainly provides evidence that the Red Sox have an ethical problem in their culture.

In July 2016, the Red Sox illegally gave inflated signing bonuses to teenage prospects from Latin America. As a result, Manfred declared five Red Sox prospects free agents and the team was prohibited from signing any international amateur players for a year.

During the 2017 season, Boston was fined after MLB found out they were using Fitbits to illegally relay signs during games.

And now we have the 2018 cheating scheme.

The old saying, “Three strikes and you’re out,” clearly doesn’t apply to the Boston Red Sox. Instead, Manfred quietly issued a minor penalty and then announced it in a news cycle dominated by the NFL draft.

For their part, the Red Sox brass claim the franchise’s World Series trophy for 2018 isn’t tainted at all. The Astros claimed the same thing about their 2017 World Series championship.

Well then, if there was no advantage gained, why did both teams feel the need to cheat?

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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