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 gets the best of the Dodgers

Astros behind McCullers Jr. get shutout win in hostile Dodger Stadium

Yordan Alvarez added some big insurance runs against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Having dropped two of three in San Francisco against the league record-leading Giants over the weekend, the Astros exited an off day on Monday and entered a hostile environment at Dodger Stadium in the first of a two-game series on Tuesday night. With some timely hits and an excellent start from their starter, Houston would grab the win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Dodgers 0

Astros' Record: 65-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (9-2)

Losing Pitcher: Walker Buehler (11-2)

Houston scores first as McCullers Jr. out-duels Buehler

After nearly turning the game's very first pitch around for a home run but instead going foul, Jose Altuve still started the game with a single in the top of the first. A double play would erase him, though, as the game remained scoreless into the top of the third. Martin Maldonado led that inning off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch by Walker Buehler, then scored on an RBI double by Michael Brantley, putting Houston ahead 1-0.

Houston threatened again in the top of the fourth, getting two on with two outs, bringing up Martin Maldonado with an empty base, which the Dodgers would use by intentionally walking him to get to Lance McCullers Jr., who grounded out to strand all three runners. He made up for it on the mound, though, out-dueling Buehler, who finished six innings while allowing a run by getting into the seventh scoreless. He would get two outs into that frame while giving up a single and a walk, leaving two on base for Blake Taylor, who came in to get the third out. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 110 P.

Alvarez adds insurance as Astros take the opener in LA

Clinging to the one-run lead in the top of the eighth, Carlos Correa worked a one-out walk to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who demolished a 415-foot two-run homer to add two big insurance runs, extending the lead to 3-0. Kendall Graveman took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth and, despite allowing a leadoff single and hitting a batter, was able to finish a scoreless inning.

With Ryan Pressly on the paternity list, Houston handed the ball to Ryne Stanek to close things out in the bottom of the ninth. He would get the job done, earning the save by retiring the Dodgers in order, giving the Astros the win at the dismay of the fans in Los Angeles.

Up Next: This short series's second and final game will begin thirty minutes earlier on Wednesday at 8:40 PM Central. For the Dodgers, they will get the debut of Max Scherzer (8-4, 2.76 ERA), while Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.30 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros.

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