ASTROS OFF THE HOOK IN SPY CONTROVERSY
MLB declares team not guilty, but Red Sox still not buying it, writes Rob Longley.
HOUSTON Apparently the Astros aren’t the New England Patriots of Major League Baseball.
So say the World Series champions and thus decreed commissioner Rob Manfred’s office on Wednesday by declaring the Houston Astros not guilty of any wrongdoing in the latest pro sports episode of “spygate.”
The Boston Red Sox aren’t ready to let their ALCS opponent off the hook so quickly, however, though apparently the club isn’t fired up enough to further press the issue with MLB.
What the Astros did fess up to Wednesday, is that if you aren’t at least trying to cheat (or in the Astros’ defence, trying to catch the cheaters), you aren’t trying.
Take it from Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who prior to Game 4 of the best-of-seven series said his team was “playing defence” by monitoring other teams’ activity in opposing parks.
If it sounds suspicious, well, the whole thing is at the very least just that. And while not a full-blown scandal, it has certainly become a distraction injected into a competitive series between two outstanding teams.
The story emerged late in Game 3 Tuesday when a report out of Boston claimed that in the series opener, an Astros employee was monitoring activity in the Red Sox dugout from an adjacent camera well at Fenway Park.
Guilty as charged, the Astros say. But only to a point.
Luhnow was clearly on the offensive prior to Game 4, however, with the argument that given the modern-day tools available, teams nudge the envelope toward skulduggery. That would be many teams, not just the Astros.
“There’s a lot of technology in ballparks these days,” Luhnow said in the Astros’ dugout hours before first pitch. “Video cameras and high-speed cameras and high-magnification cameras, monitors showing live feeds, etc.
“So when we go into an opposing ballpark, we tend to look around and make sure we don’t see suspicious activity.”
Look, we’re reasonably certain the Astros aren’t the only team using cameras for a sweep such as this (or more), just as multiple teams have griped to MLB about how the champs operate.
Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said he was willing to accept MLB’s case-closed ordinance — for now — but wasn’t about to admit the Astros did nothing wrong.
“First of all, there was a violation, the person shouldn’t have been (in the camera well),” Dombrowski said. “Second of all, I don’t like the implication that the Boston Red Sox would do anything illegal.
“When (the Astros) say they are doing this to protect themselves, they’re also not listening to an ordinance from above.”