Public court proceedings have opened a knothole for peering into the state of the MLB investigation into the Red Sox regarding illicit electronic sign stealing. The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan reported on the most recent developments (subscription link).
It was once anticipated that we’d see some resolution this spring. While reports have indicated that the Boston organization wasn’t terribly worried about significant blowback — at least, in comparison to the fury that met the Astros — it was entirely unclear just what commissioner Rob Manfred would discover and do about allegations that the Red Sox wrongly utilized video for sign-stealing in 2018.
This subject has quite rightly faded to the background as a global crisis unfolds. But it’s a big deal in regular baseball terms. And now it seems there could be more at stake than had previously been let on.
We owe our window of insight to a lawsuit filed by daily fantasy players. Today the court held oral arguments on the team’s motion to dismiss. Based upon the questions posed by the judge, it’s rather clear that Manfred has reached a finding of some wrongdoing — even if the public isn’t yet aware of the specifics.
Just what Manfred found and what punishment he has or will mete out isn’t quite clear. The team’s lawyer did acknowledge that the Sox accept some of the underlying factual findings, but left ambiguous what they actually are. “Certainly, we did find on certain occasions in 2017, that this electronic device was used to communicate sign information.”
The Sox’ attorney also made clear the team doesn’t agree (at least in the litigation context) with Manfred’s broader determinations. In particular, the attorney argued, the team is “entitled to disagree that that activity happened at the club level.” That statement certainly could be read to imply that Manfred identified participation in illicit activities that went beyond uniformed personnel.
It’s rather frustrating to see such long-running uncertainty. But the evolution of the Astros scandal surely played a role in the slow unfolding of the Red Sox case. And the league is understandably focused on much more pressing matters at the moment. Today’s drip of information doesn’t tell us a whole lot, but does increase the intrigue.