Manfred: Additional Protocols Will Be In Place To Prevent Cheating
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said there "absolutely" will be more protocols in place by Opening Day to prevent cheating practices similar to what the Astros were punished for, according to Tom Verducci of SI.com. Now that the league has completed its investigation into the Astros' sign-stealing, Manfred "has to decide on how to assure a corrupt-free game in a high-tech world." The answer either is "more technology or less," and Manfred is "not sure which path is correct." He said, "We need to continue to evaluate where we have technology proximate to the dugout and whether there are technology changes that could be helpful in resolving this issue." Verducci: "Why not eliminate as much technology as possible? If cameras and monitors are causing such subterfuge, why not turn them off as soon as the first pitch is thrown? Video rooms are locked. The only monitor available to a team is the replay one with the MLB security official standing next to it." Manfred said that is an "option," and the league has "talked about it." Manfred: "We are not done on 2020 (protocols)" (SI.com, 1/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown cited sources as saying that in the coming weeks, MLB "intends to analyze its methods of policing how technology, especially related to live game feeds, is used in video rooms, clubhouses, dugouts and beyond." Greater oversight, up to "banning in-game video of any kind and adding a second MLB security official, will be considered" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/13).
IS ANYONE SURPRISED? In DC, Barry Svrluga writes everyone "should have seen it coming." Sign-stealing, using the human eye, has been "baked into baseball culture for a century." Svrluga: "Put millions of dollars on the line, outfit each team with frame-by-frame, high-definition video, and, lo and behold, the notion of using the available tools for unintended purposes proved too tantalizing to resist. Go figure" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/14). SI.com's Verducci wrote the Astros' issue began with MLB "embracing technology" and turned into the "largest sign-stealing scandal in the history of baseball." In '14, the league "adopted a challenge-based replay system that put live television monitors close to dugouts." If that was when "Pandora's Box unintentionally opened," Manfred "attempted to slam it shut" with yesterday's penalties (SI.com, 1/13). Verducci said, "This game has a long history of kind of giving a wink and a nod to the dark arts of cheating. ... The commissioner realized that technology changed baseball so much that he had to catch up and get ahead at the same time with these suspensions." The Athletic's Jayson Stark: "In an age of technology, think how tempting it is to use it for everything. If you are a team like this, trying to win a World Series, to be special, you are looking for every edge. Technology lures you into its traps" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 1/13).
PLENTY OF BLAME TO GO AROUND: THE ATHLETIC's Ken Rosenthal wrote people at "every level of the sport bear responsibility for this mess." The penalties doled out by Manfred will "serve as a powerful deterrent to anyone who considers engaging in illegal sign stealing in the future." But MLB still "must figure out exactly how to best prevent such violations from occurring again," and everyone involved "needs to acknowledge the role they played in allowing the sport to grow so out of control" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/13). MLB Network's Bob Costas said there is a "larger statement here for the entire sport," and if this is "not a deterrent, nothing will be" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 1/13). THE RINGER's Ben Lindbergh wrote it is "quite likely that the Astros and Red Sox weren't the only teams engaging in at least low-level forms of illegal sign stealing; every team has a video room and must have been tempted to use it improperly." It is "risky for any MLB fan base to proclaim its team pure or complain too loudly about losing to known sign stealers" (THERINGER.com, 1/13). The Athletic's Evan Drellich said this will "in no way eliminate cheating," but what it "might do is scare people off from this kind of cheating" ("Nightly News," NBC, 1/13). The N.Y. Post's Ken Davidpff said this might be a "deterrent for teams to think twice about allowing their players and their staff to do this kind of thing" ("CBS This Morning," 1/14).