So last week I was in Tampa on a work trip. Not that I didn’t have access to any news or sports or news on sports, most of Florida does – even if a lot of Florida can’t access anything but Fox News judging by the billboards in Tampa – I did. I was tired.
But Wednesday I was in the hotel lobby waiting for my work comrades when one of them came up to me and said the Astros had fired their manager and general manager. Whoa… and whoa. In my best Montreal Expos accent I said ‘pourquoi?’
Cheating. Spying. Stealing signs.
Rob Manfred is having none of it.
Now Rob is the baseball commissioner, so he has the right to do what he thinks is best for baseball. He’s drawing a hard line – there will be no cheating in baseball. What you may ask? What? Of course, there should be no cheating in baseball, right?
Go ahead and laugh in any manner you want – a hearty har-har-har as if the thought of cheating in baseball is pure folly… or a loud guffah as in ‘sheeyit, there has ALWAYS BEEN cheating in baseball! Cheating is glued onto baseball as much as frosting is to mini wheats!’
1919 Black Sox Scandal when entrepreneur/gambler/gangster Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series by paying off some White Sox players. Remember that? Of course you don’t, you were only 4 years old or something (I’m bad at math).
Pitcher Gaylord Perry brought a whole medicine cabinet to the mound with him – Vaseline, emery boards, nail clippers, Oil of Olay, his own spit, anything to doctor the baseball so it would dip and dive like a loon looking for a fish. But he was clownish in his cheating so they just wagged their fat foam finger at him most of the time. It was entertainment you know. As was…
The entire steroid era which happened after a work stoppage. They needed to get the fans back. So what if Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa came to spring training looking like a pair of angry David Banners. Who knew all that juice would load them up to hit home runs like no one has ever done before. What a shock it was to realize McGwire’s manager was none other than the guy who couldn’t stop cheating, Tony LaRussa? I mean Tony was kind of a drunken mess who finally got caught later.
And Sammy? Oh Sammy, you chameleon. You were about 170 pounds soaking wet when you were a White Sox.
No, seriously I can’t. But thanks Sammy, you homer mensch you.
Then Barry Bonds said ‘sheeyit, everyone’s ignoring the Hall-of-Fame career I’ve already had and focusing on those two? One of them so roided up they can’t move and the other plays the outfield like a delicate flower? Sheeyit. Watch this.’ And we did. We watched him beat the hell out of those poor baseballs as much as we watched his head grow three times bigger.
Cheating? You bet your HGH (Human Growth Hormone, not Hank Goddamn Hill) it was. But, at the time, that was just fine. It brought butts into seats and eyeballs onto screens.
Okay. Cheating has been so good for baseball, so it’s all well and good if it’s leading to a more prosperous league. It’s no damn good if the cheating leads to no money, and that is the crux to this little brouhaha. Stealing pitching signs doesn’t do MLB any good in the cash drawer.
Manfred did what he needed to do… he suspended Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for a year… and the Astros suddenly got honest (Cheating? What? Us? Well…sheeyit) and fired the lot.
That set the baseball dominos into motion. Who else was on the 2017 Astros World Series team that got caught? Current – and now former – Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Gonzo. And who played for the Astros? Carlos Beltran, who was named Mets manager and then had it taken away before this season has even started. At least Carlos can say he was undefeated as a manager.
And now Manfred is looking into the Red Sox 2018 World Series championship. After all, their manager was Alex Cora. Stay tuned for that one.
The only bright light beaming down on all of this cheating? Well, for both 2017 and 2018 the losing World Series team was the Dodgers. Giants fans, like me, can only smile and go ‘uh huh.’
All I can sum this up with is: kids, don’t cheat, unless of course it garnishes you a ton of fans and some cash.