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Red Sox get their punishment for sign stealing

Alex Cora suspended for 2020, but only for his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing in 2017, not the Red Sox in 2018.

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Pre-World Series Workouts And Media Availabilities At Fenway Park Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Punishment came down for the Red Sox on Wednesday for improper use of the video replay room during the 2018 season. Major League Baseball suspended Boston’s video replay system operator J.T. Watkins for the 2020 season and postseason, and the Red Sox forfeited their second-round pick in the 2020 MLB draft.

Compared to the Astros’ punishment for sign stealing, this is much lighter, but that’s because, per MLB’s investigation, the Red Sox malfeasance was “far more limited in scope and impact.”

Alex Cora, the manager of the Red Sox in 2018, was suspended for the 2020 season, but only for his role as bench coach for the 2017 Astros. Commissioner Rob Manfred in his report did not find that “Cora, the Red Sox coaching staff, the Red Sox front office, or most of the players on the 2018 Red Sox knew or should have known that Watkins was utilizing in-game video to update the information that he had learned from his pregame analysis.”

So Boston had a supposed rogue actor — one still employed by the team — and nobody in the organization knew what he was doing. Sure, why not? Let’s go with that explanation.

Cora was fired by the Red Sox on January 14. Asked on Wednesday if Cora might be back with Boston in 2021, general manager Chaim Bloom told reporters, “All the reasons we parted ways with him then are still the case.”

While it’s official that the Dodgers lost back-to-back World Series to teams who were punished for cheating, another difference in the Astros and Red Sox cases was that Boston wasn’t found to have cheated during the postseason.

“The evidence uncovered during the investigation is insufficient to conclude that the conduct continued in the 2018 Postseason or 2019 regular season,” Manfred wrote in his report.

In addition to getting suspended for 2020, the fall guy Watkins is not allowed to serve as video replay coordinator during 2021 neither in the regular season nor the postseason.