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David Ortiz is coming to the defense of the Boston Red Sox.
The retired slugger, who spent his final 14 seasons with Boston, criticized Major League Baseball’s handling of its sign-stealing investigation during an interview on Fox Sports’ MLB Twitter account.
At one point, Ortiz said the punishment for Boston’s crimes were ‘not fair’ relative to the punishments previously given to the Houston Astros.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 24, 2020
"They were searching, trying to find out if anything that happened at Houston happened in Boston, and, basically, it wasn't even close to a similar situation. What happened in Boston is what everybody is doing in the league right now, and I think the punishment was not fair."
On Wednesday, the league docked the Red Sox their second-round draft pick and suspended a team employee who manned the team’s video replay review feed for systematically stealing catchers’ signs through technological means during the 2018 season.
In its findings, the league acknowledged Boston’s sign-stealing was limited in comparison to the Astros. The fallout from Houston’s scheme resulted in then bench coach Alex Cora losing his job as Red Sox manager. MLB said none of the illegal conduct gave the Red Sox enough of an advantage to win the 2018 World Series, while also clarifying that no player would have been suspended even without the granted immunity.
Regardless, baseball fans seem to think the Red Sox got away with a slap on the wrist considering the league determined its sign-stealing regulations were violated. Ortiz sees it much differently.
"You're going to blame a video guy, suspend him for two years, just because he's watching what signals the catchers are giving, telling the players, so the players can use it on the field? That's what everybody is doing."
"I don't call that cheating. I think it was more of an excuse than anything else."
Ortiz has a vested interest given his connection to the Red Sox. To hear him defend the team should come as no surprise. However, his contention that Boston’s behavior is the norm should probably raise more questions about what MLB is willing to allow or what determines when that line is crossed. Without clearer answers, doubts about the game’s integrity will only grow.
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