4th and a Mile with Paul Muth

Cheating isn't as bad if it happens in Boston

Boston Red Sox/Facebook

On Wednesday afternoon Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred handed down his punishment to the Boston Red Sox yesterday for what amounted to almost the exact same infractions the Houston Astros had been accused of doing one season before.

Their former manager, Alex Cora, was suspended through the 2020 season, but not for anything he did with the Red Sox. Their replay system operator was suspended a year without pay, and their 2020 second round pick was stripped.

Comparatively, the Astros' manager and general manager were suspended for a year, they were stripped of their first and second round picks for this year and next, and they were fined a league maximum $5 million.

In what world does this make any sense?

The justification is that their cheating had less buy-in and was less coordinated. So their cheating was, in essence, less cheating.

If Major League Baseball was trying to send a message that cheating was a zero-tolerance offense, they did a terrible job demonstrating that yesterday.

It cannot be argued that the Astros cheated, nor should it. The issue now is regarding the perception of favoritism in the application of punishment.

The Astros were fined $5 million dollars. The Red Sox were not fined a cent. So this is, on its face, implying that the Red Sox--who electronically stole signs like the Astros--did nothing worthy of a fine. If this line of reasoning makes sense, I'm happy to be corrected.

Now, should the punishments have been the exact same? No, not at all. The Astros admittedly did operate their sign stealing scheme on a reportedly much larger scale. But the Red Sox punishment is laughable and forgettable in comparison.

It's safe to say that Manfred was in a lose-lose situation. It's also safe to say that it's possible to pick a worse way to lose between his options. Whenever cheating is involved, however, it's always better to be as heavy handed as possible. Look at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. When the New England Patriots were accused of deflating footballs, the investigation proved inconclusive. In spite of that, Goodell suspended quarterback Tom Brady four games, fined the organization $1 million dollars, and took two draft picks away. The Patriots took it on the chin and moved forward, just as the Astros did. The Red Sox, however, probably didn't even feel the punch.

At the end of the day, Manfred will be applauded by the owners for spinning the electronic sign stealing problem as the act of a lone-wolf scheme that the Astros committed on their own. History will forget the Red Sox culpability, as well as the dozen or so other teams that current and former players have spoken out about as having committed the same crime that were never investigated. Instead of this issue becoming the next Mitchell Report-style black eye on a sport that is almost synonymous with rule bending, Manfred has effectively pinned the entire problem on the Astros' shoulders for history to frown upon.

So if any Astros fans were looking for some solace in he long delayed Red Sox punishment, it is safe to say that it is nowhere to be found.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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