ASTROS OFF THE HOOK IN SPY CON­TRO­VERSY

MLB de­clares team not guilty, but Red Sox still not buy­ing it, writes Rob Longley.

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - rlon­g­[email protected]­media.com

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.”

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