MLB issues return with sign stealing
History tends to repeat itself, especially in the sporting world.
Take Major League Baseball.
It was during the 1919 World Series that a band of Chicago White Sox players — back then the best team money could buy– conspired with a group of gamblers to throw the championship to a team of inferior Cincinnati Reds.
In 1920, the commissioner of baseball — Kenesaw “Mountain” Landis — cracked down on the perpetrators of the scandal and banned eight players from the game for life.
Say it isn’t so, Joe?
Now almost a century later, the question turns into “Say it isn’t so, Jose Altuve?” as the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros were put under the scandal microscope.
A group of Houston players were accused of concocting a complex system for stealing signs from the opposition. It involved some of the batters — including Altuve and Alex Bregman — wearing buzzers under their uniforms.
The investigation revealed that other veteran star players were involved as well as the bench coach who would later lead the Boston Red Sox to the 2018 world championship. One of the veteran Astros players implicated also was named to manage the New York Mets for 2020.
Now in January of 2020, almost 100 years after Commissioner Landis punished those who perpetrated the Black Sox scandal of 1919, a new commissioner has to deal with the leaders of the Astros.
MLB boss Rob Manfred banned Astros manager AJ Hinch for one year, and his GM Jeff Luhnow, for knowing about the sign stealing but not doing a thing about it. The team later fired both men.
Within a day, also losing his job was Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who led his team to the 2018 championship after leaving the Astros bench.
In quick order, the newly minted Mets manager, Carlos Beltran, who was a player with the Astros in 2017 and implicated in the scandal, also vacated his position before getting the chance to lead the Mets to one spring workout.
Closer to home, all Cleveland Indians fans know that their team has only won two World Series in the last 100 years. The 100th anniversary of that first Series win over the then Brooklyn Dodgers will be this season.
During that fateful 1920 season, the Black Sox scandal broke and also Cleveland lost its beloved shortstop Ray Chapman, who was hit in the head by a New York Yankee pitcher and died a short while later during the pennant race.
The 2020 edition of the Indians are fearful of losing their beloved shortstop for a different reason. The bright lights of big bucks and free agency could lure Francisco Lindor away from Cleveland after the 2021 season. It could be August 2020 when Indians fans, just like in 1920, could be dealing with another devastating loss.
Let’s hope this history doesn’t repeat itself. However, we can always hope that 2020 will end in a world championship like 1920 did for the Tribe.
SPRING TV BASEBALL: The Indians pitchers and catchers will be reporting in less than a month, and the cable television network of the Tribe (SportsTime Ohio) is planning to air 10 spring games from Arizona in February and March 2020.
Announcers Rick Manning and Matt Underwood, along with field reporter Andre Knott, will be working five spring games — the first being Feb. 27 at 3:05 p.m. vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers from Goodyear, Ariz.
Two games versus Oakland from Los Vegas on Feb. 29 and March 1 will be produced by Sportstime Ohio. Game time for the pair will be 4:05 p.m.
The two other SportsTime Ohio-produced games will be shown March 17 and 18 both at 9:05 p.m. vs. the Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers, respectively. Note that Cincinnati will have former Tribe hurler Trevor Bauer, while the Rangers will be carrying former Tribe ace Cory Kluber.
Five other games will be carried over SportsTime Ohio (Channel 36 on Spectrum cable systems in the area), but they will not be produced by the local crew and thus announcers Manning and Underwood will not work these games, which include March 3 vs. the Los Angeles Angels from Goodyear (produced by Fox Sports West); March 4 vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks (Fox Sports Arizona); March 9 vs. the Los Angeles Angels (Fox Sports West) and March 13 vs. the Milwaukee Brewers (Fox Sports North). The final spring televised game will be March 22 at 3:05 p.m. when the Reds play the Indians at Goodyear. That game will be carried by the Reds broadcast crew of Fox Sports Ohio.