As expected, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred came down hard on the Houston Astros for their camera and trash can based sign stealing during the 2017 season. General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were both suspended from the game for a year, and the Astros themselves were fined and stripped of several high draft picks. The team then fired both Luhnow and Hinch. Newly former Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was instrumental to the whole scheme, seems likely to face an even stiffer penalty from the league once it’s wrapped up its investigation of Boston’s own sign stealing scandal.
Although I think Manfred’s done a great job addressing this vile chicanery, if I’ve learned one thing from my years of watching professional sports (or even just as a shapeshifting space tortoise masquerading as a human being for research purposes) it’s that when people get caught cheating, other cheaters don’t stop; they just cheat smarter. A suspension is fleeting. A World Series trophy, or business success, or the knowledge that I porked your mom…that’s forever!
Since the Red Sox probably need to cheat their asses off this season if they want to get anywhere, I’ve got a few ideas.
- Involve the commentators. Houston’s scheme relied on stealing signs using a monitor in the clubhouse set to watch a center field camera aimed at the catcher’s grundle. Who else has a camera aimed right at the catcher’s grundle? NESN! If the backstop calls for a curve ball, Dave O’Brien should launch a snot rocket out the window and down onto the hitter’s shoulder. It’s a hell of a shot, but with a little practice he’ll be better at hitting his target than most of the team’s bullpen.
- Make it romantic. I’ve been to way too many games at Fenway the last several years. There’s been a wedding proposal on the right field roof deck at every single game. I propose we make this tradition useful to the team while also increasing the rate at which we’re processing New England couples through the ballpark so that they may go forth and multiply and strengthen our great nation through their sturdy northeastern progeny. Let’s do one of these in between every Sox at bat. A yes means the pitcher’s bringing the heat. If she has to say no because the call is a slider but she doesn’t really mean it we’ll just cycle ’em back out next inning.
- Make it part of the fan experience. At Fenway, you’re not just there to see a ballgame; you’re there to make memories! YAY! Where better to put a spy than at one of the field-side tables in Bleacher Bar. If Sully from Medfield drunkenly waves from center field, look for the breaker.
And don’t worry about Alex Cora. I’m sure the Patriots could use someone with his skillset.