The Yankees are no longer flying solo in their war with the cheating Astros. The pressure is mounting on Manfred to act, to do “what” is the question, though.
The Yankees are not letting it go. Neither are the Dodgers. We have a civil war in baseball, and much like our nation’s Civil War, the repercussions are bound to be brutal and long-lasting.
Commissioner Rob Manfred probably believed he was coming down hard on the Houston Astros. Doling out one-year suspensions to a general manager and a field manager, together with a $5 million fine, he could only hope everyone would move on.
Initially, it appeared Manfred had gotten ahead of the crisis. People lost their job, and the shame brought to Houston players, involved or not, was felt by most to be adequate.
The Yankees See It Differently
But when the stories kept coming, day after day, and it became apparent that players on both the Yankees and Dodgers were not only upset but downright angry, the crisis began to take another turn.
The Yankees are not known as whiners or sore losers. Neither are the Dodgers. These are two of baseball’s royalty franchises.
And then, adding fuel to the fire, from the owner Jim Crane on down to belligerent players like Jose Altuve, the Astros answered with denials, untruths, and team issued “talking points”, further rattling and stoking ire from the Yankees.
More steam gathered when a YouTube video appeared featuring Altuve’s dash to home after hitting the walk-off home run off Aroldis Chapman that sent the Yankees home in the 2019 ALCS.
Now, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck damn it, it is a duck.
The charge is that Altuve was wearing a buzzer under his shirt that signaled the off-speed pitch he bludgeoned.
This video is, I believe, because of its depth is the best of many out there. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Apologies are not necessary.
The Astros Can Run, But They Can’t Hide
Here’s the thing. The Astros take umbrage in claiming no one can say they beat the Yankees in that series solely because they cheated. What they conveniently don’t say, however, is that one pitch decided the series. One pitch.
So, whether the evidence is circumstantial or not (the video), it does suggest that something “funny” took place – and the Yankees have every reason to cry foul.
Moreover, Commissioner Manfred needs to listen more closely to the protests that continue to rear their ugly head.
The Real Villain Is Surfacing (Jim Crane)
Manfred was unhappy when Astros owner Jim Crane repeated his claim that “in our opinion (the Astros cheating) didn’t impact the game.”
A fact brought home when Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reached Manfred by phone, and the Commissioner indicated, “he wasn’t having a good day — or good week for that matter”.
A word about Mr. Crane: his leading business enterprise was sued by the Department of Justice four times for allegations of war profiteering.
On three occasions between 2006-2008, the suits were settled out of court. On the other, one of Crane’s VP’s pled guilty to inflating invoices for military shipments to Baghdad.
Wait, we’re not done. Bradford William Davis, writing for the New York Daily News in October 2019, also reports that “Eagle Global Logistics, a Houston-based business founded by Crane in 1984, was investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for its hiring practices regarding women and minorities.” (read more here)
We are still awaiting results from his investigation into the Boston Red Sox and the degree to which Alex Cora spread the cheating cancer upon his arrival as manager.
Manfred will be making a big mistake if he thinks the Yankees are to be appeased if he comes down extra hard on the arch-rival Red Sox.
Manfred: A Possible Way Out?
That should play as a non-starter. Instead, Manfred has to work backward to revise his stance, and punishments levied on the Astros.
While the Yankees and Dodgers can’t expect Manfred to overturn two World Series, declaring them “winners”, it is reasonable that he can and should strip the Astros of both titles.
Manfred can also order that an asterisk be placed in the official MLB record book with no team named as the Series winner in those years.
And, whatever the Astros decide to do with their rings, who cares?
This Is Bound To Get Uglier
Civil Wars are never civil. And this one is heating up to be a turning point in the history of baseball. The wounds will fester for decades as they did between the North and South in our nation.
Baseball is not immune, and its future at the moment rests in the hands of Rob Manfred. Meanwhile, the protests from the Yankees and Dodgers will not – and should not – subside.