Major League Baseball has taken some of this downtime during the COVID-19 outbreak to hand out its penalties for the Boston Red Sox sign-stealing scandal. Initially, these punishments are very underwhelming compared to the Houston Astros, and the penalties are not that severe as initially expected, even with manager Alex Cora. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted out the news.
BREAKING: #RedSox penalties:
*Loss of 2020 2nd-round pick.
*Ban of replay operator J.T. Watkins through 2020 playoffs and from doing same job in ‘21.
*Ban of Alex Cora through ‘20 playoffs, but only for conduct with #Astros.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 22, 2020
The way it seems, the Red Sox were not breaking the rules nearly as bad as the Houston Astros; thus, their punishments were less. It is still underwhelming to see the comparison between the two organization’s disciplines. Red Sox manager Alex Cora who was instrumental in the sign-stealing with the Astros, was not banned for life as many suspected he would be.
Cora will have to sit out the 2020 season; he was already fired, so this was a no brainer once the information on the Astros came about. Replay video operator JT Watkins was suspended for the 2020 season and cannot return to the same job in 2021. Finally, the loss of a second-round pick, which will be more crucial given that the 2020 draft may be as short as five rounds.
Unlike the Astros, this sign-stealing initiative seems to be directed and run differently. Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he believes that the Red Sox sign stealing was unbeknownst to most players and manager Alex Cora.
The way the Red Sox “system” for sign-stealing worked was that Watkins would sometimes use the replay feed to revise and decode sign sequences in-game or pre-game, violating MLB regulations, and he would provide this information to the players. The impact of this sign-stealing was far more minuscule since it would only play a benefit at certain times in the games, a minimal number of times when runners were on second base, AND Watkins had relayed information.
The punishments may be a bit underwhelming, but given the differences between the Red Sox and Astros case, it does seem to be understandable.