Have the Twins Been Getting Beaten by Cheaters?
Image courtesy of Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY SportsThe penalties levied upon the Astros were fairly severe, especially after the ripple effects played out. Manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow received one-year bans from MLB before being promptly fired by owner Jim Crane. Houston also forfeited several high draft picks and received a fine. Alex Cora, who reportedly helped orchestrate the cheating – and, as you may recall, threw a fit last year by falsely accusing Eddie Rosario of breaking the rules on a bunt – is certainly destined for a lengthy ban of his own.
That's all well and good, but does little to mollify the concerns of a longtime baseball fan like myself.
Ever since this scandal first surfaced – through the exceptional reporting work of Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich – I've found myself asking: how deep does this go? It's hard to believe the Astros are an isolated case.
Hours after the bombshell, Logan Morrison weighed in on Instagram, adding some perturbing insights of his own. "So many teams are doing this," he wrote. "I know from first hand accounts that the Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, and Red Sox all have used film to steal signs."
How credible is this latest allegation? Who knows. But the decisive action by the commissioner against Houston leaves no doubt as to the verified gravity of these offenses for at least one team, and we're only starting to learn the truth. Baseball's player association is a brotherhood, and sometimes the loyalty can manifest in negative ways. It did when the steroid epidemic of the '90s ran rampant, unspoken.
Unspoken, that is, until the cracks begin to creep up. By 2003, David Wells was proclaiming that, "As of right now, I'd estimate 25 to 40 percent of all major leaguers are juiced. But that number's fast rising."
Are Mike Fiers and Morrison merely the first to shed light on a lurking corruption at the game's core? You might not be inclined to put these transgressions at the level of PEDs, but the benefit of knowing what pitch is coming? Especially when you're a good hitter, in a big spot? That can't be downplayed. Depending on the depth and extent of these activities, it's entirely possible that history was altered in significant ways by foul play.
As a fan of the Twins, who have not to my knowledge been referenced in connection with any of these activities? Well, I can't help but think about the 123 runs the Astros have scored in 19 games against Minnesota since 2017, when they won a now-tainted World Series.
I can't help but think about the unbelievable hypocrisy of Cora, and the dark cloud that now hovers over Boston's championship in 2018.
And given that New York was the first team mentioned by Morrison in his own remarks, I can't help but think about all those times over the years that Yankees hitters seemed to be sitting on the right pitch, at the right time, and dispatching the Twins with almost surreal consistency. Especially in the playoffs.
Bitterness? You could say so. And maybe my own favorite team will be implicated at some point. No possibilities can be ruled out at a time where offense and home runs have gone absolutely bananas and the once-scrappy Twins are leading the revolution. But for now, I choose to believe in the integrity of this franchise, and the people running it.
Under this belief, the notion that an already disadvantaged team may be having the deck further stacked against it, by rampant and seemingly unrepentant cheating?
It's gut-wrenching. Not just as a Twins fan, but as a baseball fan.
Rob Manfred faces a crisis. To ignore it would be to dismiss any plausibility of a level playing field, in a sport where that ideal has always been under assault.
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