A century ago, in the wake of the ‘Black Sox’ scandal, in which the Chicago Black Sox were accused of taking a bribe to throw the 1919 World Series, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis became the first commissioner of baseball, and permanently banned eight men from ever being involved in big league baseball again. It was a stiff punishment, but the public had little confidence in the legitimacy of the game, and Major League Baseball wanted to rectify the situation.
A century later, the banging of a trash can brought new skepticism on the legitimacy of Major League Baseball games.
In an effort to curb some skepticism, current commissioner Rob Manfred handed out one-year suspensions to Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch for their involvement in a sign-stealing cheating scandal that came to light after the club lost the World Series last fall. Both men were fired an hour later by Houston’s ownership. Tuesday, the owners of the Boston Red Sox decided to part ways with their skipper, Alex Cora, citing he had been named one of the masterminds in the scandal. I ask, does the punishment fit the crime, or was it too lenient?
There is no proof that the White Sox threw more than the fall classic in 1919, and we’ll never know if they would have thrown more games if they hadn’t got caught. We do know that two of the past three World Series now have a dark shadow cast over their legitimacy. Is Houston the rightful champion of 2017? Or Boston in 2018? Or, are the Dodgers supposed to be back-to-back World Series champions? Those are questions that will never get answered.
I doubt that Luhnow and Hinch will find a job in baseball when their suspensions are up, but if they do, and the teams they are with move up in the standings, can we trust the legitimacy of the games they are involved in?