Just like the president, the king, and the big cat collector, the sport commissioner is largely determined by the scandal that occurred on their watches.
Therefore, Rob Manfred does not need to look far when looking for a guide for how to move his sport past the ugliness of sign thieves in recent months, which reached conclusions like Wednesday with the findings in the 2018 Red Sox. Presumably there is still a Batphone – a Budphone? – who directly links the current commissioner with his direct predecessor:
“Commissioner Selig, can you remind me how you deal with steroids?”
In fact, Manfred worked under Selig for almost all of the illegal performance-enhancing drug saga and helped improve the legacy of his superiors, so maybe the tutorial would be overkill; I just want to use the joke “Budphone”. Apart from that, the road map to improvement, if not necessarily safety, looks very similar between then and now: Have a scandal by making crime more difficult to do next time.
Illegal PEDs and illegal sign theft can qualify as dishonest cousins, similar and not identical. Both are mobilized to make you better, which in turn helps your team win, which means that they are not as serious as, for example, gambling on baseball.
Stealing the sign, however, requires more teamwork, thereby fundamentally charging the boss, while the use of illegal PEDs tends to be more of a solo act. You can test individuals for illegal PED use and determine who actually does what. Stealing more murkier marks. Jose Altuve, for example, knows all about the Astros 2017 trash can and usually rejects information, which makes him … guilty, but not as many as some of his teammates?
From the commissioner’s point of view, Selig heard public calls about steroids but not much was done until the players – encouraged by reporter Ken Caminiti – signed the test. Manfred heard personal screams far and wide about illegal sign theft, especially the Astrosbut didn’t knock his head until Mike Fiers sounded the alarm.
After Selig had the support of the players and their guild, he changed his narrative. Sluggers are starting to look less like large-headed, prominent-bicep-ed cartoon characters. In due course, the players themselves led the charge to impose harsher penalties for violations. And when neer well-searched and found a way to beat the test, the baseball investigation unit nailed them through evidence and witness testimony.
If some baseball historians still scold Selig for being slow to realize the game’s fungus, most praise him for producing a drug that reduces problems, otherwise it will never be completely eradicated.
Illegal sign theft, too, will never be completely eliminated because, well, you’ve met humans before, right? However, Manfred can hope that the sentences handed down to Astros and the Red Sox provide a strong disincentive; even if you are short on the Red Sox case, do you really think the video playback operator wants to end up as a J.T. Watkins? He must take further precautions to oversee the replay rooms, because he and his deputies are on their way to do 2020 before the closure of the coronavirus.
And the anger expressed by many players against Astros must be changed to the purchase of the Players Association so that its members are disciplined the next time this happens.
I don’t believe Manfred deserves the sacred hell he has received for giving immunity to Astros 2017 and 2018 Red Sox players; Player suspensions will never be held under appeal. I also don’t think that any titles should be revoked. If Manfred is totally wrong in this unified investigation, in my opinion, he should be more harsh on Astros owner Jim Crane for allowing such negative organizational culture to deteriorate and on Red Sox owner John Henry for running a team that violates signatures. stealing rules a year after Apple Watch’s violations set tougher rules.
Maybe, like Selig and steroids, Manfred will always be associated with theft of the sign. Obviously, like the person he replaces, he can reduce the damage to his sport and commissions with diplomacy and perseverance.
Reggie Jackson said, “If you have bats on hand, you can change the story.” Still Manfred on a plate. The world of baseball can’t wait for resolution.