BOSTON -- Parsing the commissioner’s own words, it sounds like any potential punishment MLB delivers the Red Sox for sign stealing will be measured.
Baseball sources on Wednesday said it was premature to categorize the punishment in a particular way -- heavy-handed, wrist slap, etc. -- but Manfred’s own words on Tuesday at Fenway Park gave some insight into his thinking.
Deterrence for breaking the rules is something Manfred has valued before when rules have been broken in his time as commissioner, and the same is true now. So Manfred has reason to do something more than make a token gesture.
“When I think about punishment, I think you need to think about deterrents,” Manfred said. “I think you need to think about how the violation has affected the play on the field, and I think you need to think about how it's affected the perception of the game publicly. All of those things are something that you have to weigh in terms of trying to get to appropriate discipline.”
At the same time, the commissioner strongly indicated he does not think the Red Sox -- or the Yankees, if they’re in turn found to have taped the Sox for the purpose of gaining an advantage -- should vacate any wins.
“Wins, look, I would say this: Could it happen?” Manfred said. “You know, is there the authority to do that? I think the answer to that, under the major league constitution, is yes. Has it ever happened with this type of allegation? I think the answer is -- I know the answer is -- no. And the reason for that is it's just very hard to know what the actual impact is in any particular game.”
Considering how poorly the Red Sox wound up against the Yankees this year, losing 11 of 19 games, it’d be even harder to see evidence of impact. That wouldn’t eliminate the transgression, of course.
Manfred emphasized how cooperative the Red Sox have been and that no violations were presently ongoing. Add in the fact that sign stealing is a problem Manfred said is usually handled behind closed doors, and it just doesn’t sound like the Sox are about to have their world rocked.