Keeping Up with the 617: Unpacking the Red Sox cheating scandal

Graphic by Aiden Menchaca / The Tufts Daily

The sports world was recently shocked after an extensive investigation unveiled seasons of cheating by the Houston Astros organization. Following the bombshell story, the MLB swiftly handed out punishments to manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, who were both released by the organization following the news. Additionally, the Boston Red Sox were heavily involved in this investigation, as now-former manager Alex Cora served as bench coach for the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros.

Evan Drelich, a former writer and columnist in Boston, and Ken Rosenthal unearthed another cheating scandal in his report for The Athletic. Drelich claimed that the Red Sox used the replay booth to steal signs from opposing teams. As the Astros investigation continued, MLB fans were calling for Alex Cora’s head and tainting the memorable 2018 Red Sox season. Following the release of A.J. Hinch, the Red Sox and Alex Cora mutually agreed to part ways, ending Cora’s two year tenure in Boston.

I have many feelings on how this investigation was handled and publicized. To begin, I solely believe that what the Red Sox and the Astros did was cheating: They were using technology and cameras to relay signs to hitters. However, the Astros had a more extensive method since they would beat on trash cans to signal what type of pitch was coming. Conversely, the Red Sox were “cheating” a bit differently. Instead of using noises to signal to the batter, a baserunner would use body signals that told the batter what pitch was being thrown. If you really think about it, the hitters didn’t always have an advantage at the plate. If there was no baserunner, the hitter wasn’t being communicated with and wasn’t able to decipher the next pitch. Meanwhile, the Astros were constantly watching the catcher’s signs and were beating on trash cans almost every other pitch. So yes, the Red Sox did cheat but not to the same extent.

The Red Sox weren’t the only team that was utilizing this form of sign stealing, as the Yankees and Dodgers, two MLB powerhouses, were also wrapped up in the scandal. However, the Red Sox were getting all the media attention as many fans believed the 2018 title was won by cheating. But the Red Sox beat both the Yankees and Dodgers in the playoffs who were utilizing the exact same system! I understand that since the Red Sox won the World Series in 2018 that they would receive more media attention than usual, though the Yankees and Dodgers (and the Astros) are also at fault here. 

I agree with the Boston Red Sox’s decision regarding the Cora situation. As much as I loved Cora and what he brought to this organization, he is still a cheater. His reputation was unfortunately stained due to his involvement in both cheating scandals. The Red Sox have many upcoming decisions to make regarding the managerial position. Do they bring in an outside hire or promote from within? Since the manager market has dried up, should they bring in an interim manager? These are just a few of the questions that loom for the Red Sox’s Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom and his staff. It might be a long season in Boston, folks.